Architecture is a willful act. It is not sufficient to produce a good design. As architects, one must sell that design to a large number of people, which necessitates that as architects it’s necessary to speak up.

Why Architects need to speak up? - Sheet1
Speaking to the public_ ©Marcos Luiz Photograph on Unsplash

Almost by definition, most architects dislike publicity. There is a widespread belief that one’s work should speak for itself and that receiving peer recognition is far more important than ‘publicity’. In fact, the words “marketing” and “public relations” probably make most architects cringe.

Why Architects need to speak up? - Sheet2
Publishing work as architects_ ©KOBU Agency on Unsplash

But isn’t it vital to appear in publications that one’s potential client could read? Isn’t it vital to connect with people? To enlighten people about what architects can do? Or to inspire people to pick up the phone when they’re ready to work with an architect?

The Public

An architect, like a doctor or a lawyer, is supposed to protect the public welfare of the people as a professional. While an architect does not have a formal Hippocratic vow, they are still obligated to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare in accordance with the laws of their jurisdiction. The primary medium for establishing this protection is the architect’s voice.

Why Architects need to speak up? - Sheet3
Architects on site_ ©Scott Blake on Unsplash

An architect is also tasked with protecting their design not out of vanity, but because it is assumed that the design intent is already in the best interests of the owner prior to construction. Without this check and balance, a contractor could theoretically do whatever they wanted, which does happen on occasion.

Protection of their Profession

While people can be dishonest and corrupt, architects as professionals must use their voice to protect the profession’s dignity. Architects must however use their voice to maintain trust with their clients and the public at large. The dignity of the profession is inextricably linked to the integrity of its individual practitioners. Architects must continue speaking up against what they know to be ethically wrong or explicit.

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Architects and client_ ©CoWomen on Unsplash

It is vital to communicate with the general public. As it stands, many common people have no idea what architects do or why they do it. They are unaware of the economic impact architecture can have, nor of its role in the world beyond being “the people who draw up plans”. Moreover, architects believe that their role has been marginalized over the last several decades. As a result, it is critical to communicate to the public WHY an architect’s role is important.

Architects should use communication to interact with the public. It should be about talking to regular people about why design matters and how architects can help them every day. It’s about reaching out to people who don’t understand how design works and illustrating the significance of design and its impact on our way of life.

It’s essential for architects to meet with local, provincial, and federal officials. So that it isn’t just architects who understand that architecture matters, but that we all do.

Why Architects need to speak up? - Sheet5
Passing on the knowledge_ ©Jason Goodman on Unsplash

The Future

It is also critical for an architect to use their voice to pass on their knowledge to the next generation, just as it is critical for an architect to advocate for the profession to the public.

Since architecture is a specialty that has evolved over time, there is a lot to teach the keen minds of tomorrow. It is the architect’s responsibility to devote time to mentoring designers and future architects in order to maintain the profession’s quality and reliability.

Architects have the power to revitalize our built environment by changing the way we design and the way we look at the world, so as to connect rather than disconnect from Mother Earth; thus changing our juxtaposition and shifting our somatic relationship towards the environment.

Architects must not only design for people, but also share their ideas, thoughts, and vision with the community; to bridge the gap between the architectural community and the general public.

Image 6_ ©Ryan Ancill on Unsplash

Because it’s not a pen, a pencil, a drafting table, or even a laptop. An architect is responsible for both public health and the protection of their profession.

The path has been tough to maintain, and it will remain so in the coming years. In many ways, architects are struggling to remain pertinent on a planet that does not fully comprehend the gravity of their quest and purpose. Architects must continue to communicate with one another. That is inextricably linked to the nature of the business. And they will continue to do so, but it is critical that architects communicate with everyone because architecture affects everyone every day.

One may take away all of an architect’s tools except one: their voice. So if you are an architect ask yourself when was the last time you thought about your part in this profession and truly utilised it?

Author

Shirley is an architecture student with an interest in sustainable design. She believes that as designers we must not only wisely design for people, but also share our ideas, thoughts, and vision with the community to make the beautiful nuances of architecture accessible to all.

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