Evidencing and Communicating the Value of Architects

Principal Investigator: Reading Co-Investigator Flora Samuel
Funding Status:
Start and End Date:

The aim of the AHRC  Leadership Fellow project, completed in close collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) was to help evidence and communicate the value of Architects – professionals who have completed the seven years requisite training at RIBA accredited schools. In order a cultural change is needed within the profession from tacit values and ‘Archispeak’ to evidence, research and clear communication. The particular emphasis was on social value in the context of homes and neighbourhoods, but the project had wider applicability to other sectors of the built environment.

It is not widely known that architects have very little involvement in the production of our built environment. Some 30% of planning applications are by architects, only 30% of architecture students go on to qualify as architects and the average pay of an architect is £36K, with the majority of architects being employed by building contractors. Architects have become extremely marginal, not helped by negative perceptions of the profession. How can architects, who have had seven years of dedicated training making them well suited to help address spatial dimensions of the ‘Grand Societal Challenges’, be more included in the production of homes and neighbourhoods? In the UK there is very little understanding of the benefits that architectural skillset can bring to the built environment – strategic, creative, spatial thinking. This means that architects rarely have the chance to utilise their painstakingly and expensively developed skills for the benefit of society. The results are there for everyone to see but are most notable in the extremely poor quality of Volume House Building in the regions.

This project built on two previous AHRC projects: Home Improvements Knowledge Exchange in the Creative Economy and The Cultural Value of Architecture in Homes and Neighbourhoods (CVoA) , which allowed us to propose a framework for evidencing value in this context.

News and Events:

Professional Practices in the Built Environment Conference

Reports and Publications:

Why Architects Matter
Building Knowledge: Pathways to Post Occupancy Evaluation (the RIBA/University of Reading report)
Post-occupancy evaluation in architecture: experiences and perspectives from the UK (paper by Rowena Hay, Flora Samuel, Kelly J. Watson and Simon Bradbury in Building Research and Information, May 2017
The project also supported the development of the Research Practice Leads Network