Architecture is not a profession, it is a discipline” – Raimund Abraham

An architect or a designer is defined as a professional qualified to design and provide aesthetic and technical advice. Architecture or design is not just a job or a business but a professional practice. A business could simply mean an exchange of service or money, whereas professional practice requires a prolonged period of education and training with a higher standard of responsibility towards society. Integrity, competence, discipline, ethics, and adherence to codes of conduct are required to meet the standard of professionalism. 

The role of architects and designers in upholding professional standards and codes of conduct - Sheet1
Introduction_©Wallpaper Access

Like any profession, architects and designers serve their clients in the built environment but they also have a duty towards nature and society. The basic ethics applied to any profession are:

  • Do no harm – They should not harm the public or the environment in any manner.
  • Maintain patient/client confidentiality – They should practice integrity, confidentiality, and impartiality.
  • Pass the knowledge onto the next generation – They should ensure the continuation of their profession through internship, mentorship, etc.  
The role of architects and designers in upholding professional standards and codes of conduct - Sheet2
Proffesional conduct_©NIEHS

Professional Conduct

Every profession has ruling bodies that set rules and regulations for the members. Similarly, architects and designers have certain associations or ruling bodies; they make the laws that are to be followed by the members of that community to guarantee the smooth and ethical flow of work. These ruling bodies are on a global level, national level, and state level. Some examples of the ruling bodies in the designing field  are the Council of Architecture (COA), the Indian Institute of Architects, the Indian Institute of Interior Designers, and the Chartered Society of Designers, etc. Each of these bodies have a different set of rules, regulations, bylaws, and acts to be followed by the members to ensure ethical and disciplined flow of work.  

Though all rules and regulations of all associations may differ, these are some of the basic guidelines to be followed by a professional:

  • Honour – Designers and architects should uphold the values of honour, honesty, integrity, and morality.
  • Commitments – A designer should always keep their word and value the commitments made to their clients, employees, employer, supplier, etc. 
  • Copyrights – A designer should always respect his/her copyrights and respect others’ copyrights. Should not copy others’ work without consent and give proper credits wherever necessary. 
  • Fair competition – It is natural to have competition among colleagues, but the competition should be fair and healthy. Should not make false or insulting statements against any other designer.  
  • Realistic duty – It is easy to design something extravaganza, but it is important to make sure that it serves its purpose towards the public and environment. 
  • Modesty – A designer should always be open to learning, listen to constructive criticism, and be ready to work on it to improve oneself. Designing is teamwork and one has to be a collaborator to work in this industry.
  • Environmental sustainability – Designers are responsible for choosing better and more sustainable products for our future to save our precious earth. Designers have to think green and about energy conservation, regeneration, and recycling. Designers create the future, and they should keep an understanding of what we need in the upcoming days. 
  • Accessibility – Designers should think about everyone when it comes to designing, including the elderly, challenged, kids, immigrants, language barriers, different genders, etc.
  • Legal Compliance – Designers should uphold all legal compliance in the country they practice. They may relate to copyright, licensing, IP legislation, piracy, plagiarism, health and safety standards, environmental standards, etc.
  • Dignity – The resulting outputs of designing should not harm any public or any sector of society or any group of people or any environment. Designers should showcase human dignity and always respectfully portray society. 
  • Safety – Designers are responsible for the safety of the direct clients but also all those who are indirectly going to be impacted by the design. Indirect safety includes the safety of all those impacted during all stages of production, use, and afterlife.

Emerging Trends

  • Social Responsibility – Professions have a greater responsibility towards the public than before. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is voluntary, but there is an increasing expectation on corporate for ethical actions. 
  • Social Clauses – Procurement contracts and construction contracts may include Social Clauses. This is a growing trend in the Public sector. They are meant for labourers and working-class people, and their overall goal is to provide better working conditions and good value for money. It focuses on the quality criteria and nature of work. 
  • Environmental Rights – The designer has a moral role in the fight against climate change. It is a designer’s duty to make sure that the client or the employer makes sustainable choices as their obligation towards the environment. 
  • Human Rights – Includes rights given to humans for their betterment, like cultural rights, rights of access, housing rights, labour rights, etc. 


Codes of Conduct and Codes of ethics are central to the definition of professionalism in design and architecture. One should refer to the rules and regulations set by the associations of their field in their respective countries to carry out working morally and ethically. Make sure that your practice follows all laws and codes. 


Image Sources:

  • Image 1: Wallpaper Access [online] Available at –
  • Image 2: NIEHS [online] Available at –

Isha Mutha is a student at MM College of architecture, Pune. She appreciates architecture but also has an undying passion for literature. Attempting to combine her design motives with creativity for storytelling. She strongly believes that a pen is mightier than a sword and hence changing perspectives one word at a time.