Architects are designers of the built environment that create communities and the urban landscape. Architects define and develop the design concept of the built structure by evaluating the client requirements, building and zoning codes, structural feasibility, costing and site context. Today’s Architect is similar to Imhotep, the architect of the first step Pyramids at Saqqara in Egypt around 2600BC; like the great Pyramids, the built environment defines our society, and we find a profound sense of being, strength and solidarity in our built structures. Spaces and societies share interdependent identities as the design of the physical space is defined by its socio-economic dynamics and other requirements that follow. Architects are able to understand these requirements, generate design concepts, implement and work in collaboration to create Architecture and the built environment.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry _©Adamlatham.com

Duties and Responsibilities of Architects / Stages of Design

Architects are responsible for the design and planning, collaboration with clients /professionals, and project supervision. Projects are organized into stages of briefing, designing, delivering, maintaining and operating after the handover. In the first stage, Architects are responsible for a strategic definition of the project by collecting client requirements to evaluate the benefits, costs and risks of feasible solutions. A Project brief consists of project outcomes, programs, sustainability issues, quality targets and spatial requirements approved by the client. Then a Project execution plan is developed after site surveys and feasibility studies. The next step is a concept design that incorporates engineering requirements, cost plans, project strategies and a framework of specifications; clients and project stakeholders review this to prepare a design program. The technical design stage follows, where the architects and the design team prepare architectural and engineering technical designs, zoning and regulations systems, building system information, and specifications, and contractor teams are integrated to prepare a construction phase plan. The next step is manufacturing and construction; the Architect is responsible for monitoring progress, resolving requests for information, commissioning the building and preparing a manual for handover and use.

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New York City _©Marco Bottigelli

Architects and the Built Environment

Architects are responsible for designing the form and function of our built environment that generates our physical behaviours and relationship to our surroundings. They study the site context, regulations, and socio-economic, environmental, and ecological factors to create defining and opposite spaces. The built environment needs to adhere to the intricate zoning and building regulations while reflecting society’s values through its design and formation; they need to be sustainable and environmentally friendly to impact the surroundings positively. The form and function of a structure need to conform to the requirements of the user or purpose. Through various strategic and briefing preparations, Architects can identify issues of conservation, cost fire safety, health and safety, inclusive design, plan of use, procurement and sustainability to define design standards that are functional and appropriate in form and usability. The physical design element of form, texture, material, visibility, and structure also defines the built environment as appropriate and in line with various factors defined by briefings, context and client requirements. Energy efficiency /conservation, sustainability, eco-design and green building principles are also imperative to great design and successfully built contemporary structures.

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Building Envelop _©Marc Goldman

Trends in the construction of the built environment

Architecture is the totality of the physical world that we live in; it is in constant progress, change and conservation, both physically and conceptually. Industrial advancements have given birth to the building structure /envelope, providing form, building services that create artificial environments and programs that create contemporary structures. Developing innovative materials with high energy efficiency and sustainability has made the building effective and resilient. The ideas of sustainability and environmental solutions to design, manufacture, and construction have become essential to the structure of the built environment as the construction sectors produce 40% of global CO2 emissions. It is vital to follow sustainable design strategies, use zero-carbon materials and design energy-conserving structures. New practices in using natural materials like timber and organic matter to build large-scale buildings are trying to bring positive changes to the sustainability issues in the construction industry. Technology like Building integrated design (BIM) and twin models can simulate the design and construction process for better evaluation in terms of sustainability, costing and project management. The role of Architects, engineers and contractors has also become better integrated through accessible procurement routes and advancement in technology.

Construction Site _©Unsplash

The impact of building projects

The impact of building projects Buildings and infrastructure provide a built environment for people to create solid and fruitful communities. Development projects of gentrification, urban renewals and urban sprawls bring physical and socio-economic impacts to the community that is considered positive due to the progress and development. A recent National Association of Home Builders report evaluated that the construction of 100 single-family homes with an average price of $378,000 generated $28.7 million in local income, $3.6 million in revenue for the local government, and 394 local jobs for the community. Similarly, the construction of transportation systems, urban renewals/gentrification and urban sprawls also bring similar economic development at various levels. However, Large-scale construction projects may negatively impact the environmental systems and local communities. Construction projects can lead to soil erosion, flooding, polluting water sources, degrade soil conditions, and damage ecological systems. It is essential to follow the green construction principles to reduce the carbon footprint and negative environmental impacts. Environmentally certified guidelines, Conservation and Sustainability Strategies and policies will lead to solutions to the adverse effects of building projects.

References:

  1. (No date) AA school. Available at: https://www.aaschool.ac.uk/publicprogramme/whatson/architect-the-evolving-story-of-a-profession (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
  2. The first known architect in history (2023) Worthington Millwork Blog. Available at: https://blog.worthingtonmillwork.com/the-first-known-architect-in-history/#:~:text=first%20architect%20in%20history%20was,use%20of%20columns%20in%20architecture. (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
  3. Exploring the role of an architect: Demystifying the profession – build wire (2023) BUILD WIRE – Constructing Ideas, Developing Possibilities. Available at: https://build-wire.com/exploring-the-role-of-an-architect-demystifying-the-profession/ (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
  4. The reality of being an architect: The 7 important truths of the profession – archisoup: Architecture Guides & Resources (2023) archisoup. Available at: https://www.archisoup.com/reality-of-being-an-architect (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
  5. Burger, R. (2016) The community impact of new construction, Capterra. Available at: https://www.capterra.com/resources/the-community-impact-of-new-construction/ (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
  6. December 16, 2020 (no date) Planning together: A new comprehensive planning framework for New York City, New York City Council. Available at: https://council.nyc.gov/news/2020/12/16/planning-together/ (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
  7. RIBA Plan of Work (no date) RIBA. Available at: https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/resources-landing-page/riba-plan-of-work (Accessed: 18 August 2023). 
Author

"I am Pravas Onta, writer, thinker and designer. I went to Architecture school in New York and I am currently trying to become a part of the ARB. I have over 5 years’ experience in design, construction and engineering. I believe in hard-work, organization and mutual support."