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Investing Power in Architects

Introduction

For the last decades, architecture has continued to influence human life more positively. Unlike other forms of art, the architecture combines in equal proportion the two most important requirements of creativity, necessity and flair, to design and develop buildings and other structures. When compared to other forms of technical subjects, architecture stands out as more of an art than a science. Architecture has been a unique part of many communities for decades and is expected to significantly “influence people’s lives” (Ballantyne 2001, p. 7), in the future. The world cannot do without architects since they make a vital contribution to the well-being of the people living in it. However, to enable the architects to carry out their work properly, some amount of power needs to be invested in them. There are many ways through which power might be invested in architects to enable them to safeguard the vital role they play in society.

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The Job of an Architect

Architects design all types of buildings in the world; unless a building is designed by a qualified architect, there are high chances that the building will collapse in a short duration. Architects design residential buildings, offices, hotels, hospitals, churches and train stations among many other structures. Any building or structure that is occupied or used by people for any purpose was probably designed by an architect (Perkins 2007, p. 12).

For that reason, the main function of an architect is to design or make a blueprint of a structure such as a building. The act of designing a building in this case refers to drawing a plan of the building. The planning can be done by making a “plastic model or a cardboard” of the building (Jefferis & Madsen 2004, p. 2). Once the plan is complete, a construction company then begins to build the building according to the architect’s plan. During construction, the designing architect is expected to supervise the process to ensure that the constructor follows the plan exclusively (Jefferis & Madsen 2004, p. 3).

There are many factors that an architect is supposed to consider before developing a plan for a building. The most important factor is the kind of impact that the building is expected to have on the environment. Other factors include the number of people who are expected to use the building, the purpose for which the structure should be used, and the kind of activities that are expected to take place in the building. For instance, an office building is normally designed with many small rooms for various administrative centers (Waldrep 2010, p. 29).

Every architect has his own way of designing a building; some architects prefer to design structures that appear flat and sleek while others like to use curves and circles in their plans. Despite these differences in design, there are fundamental standards that every architect must adhere to. For instance, every architect must ensure that the buildings he or she designs have proper routes through which people can easily escape during emergencies such as fire (Jefferis & Madsen 2004, p. 5). Although the art is exciting, architects undergo a lot of challenges when trying to adhere to all these requirements.

Ways of Investing Power in Architects

The art of architecture is quite challenging and for that reason, the architects need power to carry out their practices diligently and independently. There are several ways through which power might be invested in architects. Firstly, the architects can be empowered by making their works and operations completely independent. When architects are allowed to draw their plans out of freedom and without any interference from any authorities such as the government, they stand higher chances of producing the best designs. It is common knowledge that professionals like to work best in environments without interfering forces (Schaik, London & George 2010, p. 161).

Secondly, the architects need to form their own bodies that should also be recognized by the law. Through such a body, the architects can speak out their grievances to the relevant authorities. This body should be responsible for fighting for the rights of the architects in the country. It is also through this body that standards and rules guarding architectural practices should be formulated. This body should also be tasked to determine the kinds of punishment or fines that should be levied on an architect who “engages in malpractices” (Lankhorst 2009, p. 48).

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Another way that could be used to empower the architects is awarding the best-performing ones. The architects through their umbrella body could set prizes for their colleagues who normally take their work seriously and the ones who produce excellent designs. Awards are known to motivate professionals to work more efficiently and the architects are not an exception to this. Such awards may be given in “monetary or non-monetary forms such as promotions and other gifts” (Lankhorst 2009, p. 49). This makes most of the architects work harder to be included in the winning list (Lankhorst 2009, p. 49).

It is also important to ensure that before an architect is allowed to practice architecture, he or she should be certified by the body that controls architectural operations and practices. The body should ensure that all the practicing architects have at least a four-year degree in architecture from a recognized university as well as the necessary skills. Malpractices caused by less qualified architects have de-empowered the architects to a great extent in the last decade or so. The architects like any other professionals are judged and empowered by what they produce. Specifically, in the case of architecture, the architects are judged and empowered by their designs; the more beautiful the design is, the more powerful the architect is regarded (Clark & Brody 2009, p. 441).

Power can also be invested in architects through setting attractive payment standards. The architectural profession is quite challenging and practically, people cannot do without the architectural services. For that reason, the architects should be accorded a very attractive payment and the clients should ensure that they pay in time. This is one of the most effective ways of motivating the architects and it also enables them to concentrate on one job at a time. Like any other profession, when an architect is not well paid, he is likely to engage in several jobs at a time, which is likely to “compromise the quality of the plans he produces” (Franck & Howard 2010, p. 144).

Architecture is a profession that requires a good working environment and favorable working conditions for it to be a success. Therefore, creating an environment that favors the operations and practices of the architects is another way that will certainly empower these professionals. The creation of such an environment may require the authorities concerned to provide architects with everything they require for their jobs. An environment without interference may also be considered as the creation of good working conditions. The construction firms should also be compelled to follow exclusively the architects’ plans and advice during construction (Franck & Howard 2010, p. 145).

Although every architect has a unique way of drawing his or her plans and the freedom to design buildings according to his or her skills and preferences, he or she should be made to adhere to modern standards of designing a building. For instance, a modern building is supposed to have emergency exits that can be used by the occupants of the building in case of an accident. When the architects are encouraged to follow such standards, they are likely to produce plans that are not only attractive but also safe, which results in strong and easy-to-use buildings. These kinds of “building will make the architects appear powerful in the eyes of the public” (Ho & Partners Architects 2011, p. 19).

The government should also join hands with the other stakeholders in empowering the architects. The government could do this by giving financial support to architects right from when they are in learning institutions up to the time they become fully qualified. When students who are willing and capable of studying architecture as a course are given financial support by the government, they are able to pursue their ambitions efficiently and they end up becoming “highly qualified professionals” (Clark & Brody 2009, p. 441). The government should also direct its support to train the qualified architects on crucial architectural issues such as developing modern plans. The government’s financial aid could also be used to organize seminars in which the architects can meet with their colleagues to invent various ideas (Clark & Brody 2009, p. 442).

The architects are also empowered when they are shielded from blame for collapsed buildings that do not emanate directly from their designs. Most architects are “blamed when a building that they designed collapses” (Till 2009, p. 5); this happens without first investigating the real cause of the collapse. Some of the causes of collapsed buildings include natural factors and the failure of a construction firm to follow architectural plans. To invest public confidence in architectural work, the architects must be protected from such dishonest blame games (Till 2009, p. 7).

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Architects also require incentives such as proper accommodation, traveling allowance and an official car among many others. When an architect is given such incentives, he or she is discouraged from getting them through the wrong channel. As a result, the architect dedicates most of his time and effort to excel in his job. The end results in this case will automatically be a “powerful architect” who designs the best buildings (Clark & Brody 2009, p. 446).

Conclusion

Architects influence human life in a great manner through their designs, which are needed for the construction of buildings and other structures on the surface of the earth. Since architectural work is quite demanding, architects need to be empowered to remain effective in their work. Some of the ways of empowering architects include the creation of an architectural body to fight for their rights, creating a good working environment for them, setting rules and standards that every architect should follow, arranging for seminars and training sessions for architects, and offering attractive remuneration and compensation for architectural services.

References

Ballantyne, A 2001, What is architecture? Routledge, New York, NY.

Clark, H & Brody, DE 2009, Design studies: a reader, Berg, Oxford.

Franck, KA & Howard, TV 2010, Design through dialogue: a guide for clients and architects, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.

Ho & Partners Architects 2011, HPA: the story of Ho & Partners Architects, ACC Distribution, Woodbridge.

Jefferis, A & Madsen, DA 2004, Architectural drafting & design, 5th ed, Delmar Thomson Learning, New Albany, NY.

Lankhorst, M 2009, Enterprise architecture at work: modeling, communication and analysis, Springer, New York, NY.

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Perkins, LB 2007, International practice for architects, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Schaik, LV, London, G & George, B 2010, Procuring innovative architecture, Taylor & Francis, New York, NY.

Till, J 2009, Architecture depends, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Waldrep, LW 2010, Becoming an architect: a guide to careers in design, 2nd ed, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

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