I’m sorry to say, you don’t know better
A large aspect of being an architect is relying on experience earned to create a ‘wealth of knowledge’. In this industry, that is power: having come across similar issues on similar properties over many years, and resolving them successfully is a strong aspect of an experienced architects arsenal. I work with an extremely experienced architect, and you can see that when he tells a client that it shouldn’t be a issue with planning, you know you can trust him, he is a great architect. Is it fair to say though, that there are many architects who simply are unable to turn this experience into knowledge – what kind of architects are they then?
I’m relatively new when it comes to working as an architect, but certainly not new to work. Before I headed back to university to become an architect, I worked on the distribution side of a short lived free London newspaper. The company I worked for was contracted only to cover the east side of London, with another firm handling the distribution in the west. Slowly, as we learnt what the job entailed and turned trial and error into success, we gained a larger share of the distribution area. What we learnt day to day had an immediate impact on the way we did our job. The things we changed on each new area allowed us to further refine the process for the next. By the time I left the job to return to uni, we had increase daily circulation for our area from 170,000 papers to just over 500,000, in only 4 months. The whole job was a constant process of learn, change and adapt; and this is how I see working as an architect. It is important to never stop learning, it is essential to be able to change a design or way of working, and its vital that you are able to adapt both your working practise and approach when the environment calls for it, sometimes literally.
There are many traits that are key to being an architect, and I think adaptability is often not one that would be considered important. In fact, the opposite is often leveled at architects (I for one did so here), and that is a very fair point. But being stuck on the same continuous design and methodology loop year after year is unhelpful, and ultimately puts you, the architect at a disadvantage. Clients want the best results, best performance and best design they can get for their money. They may not be aware of how to achieve these goals, but thats why they hired you in the first place.
The building regulations can be unaccommodating, but within their pages they offer an insite into what is expected now, and what will most probably be expected down the line (after all, we are all aware the regulations are only going to get tighter, right?)
This is an opportunity to innovate and experiment, its the adaptive qualities of an architect in action. Likewise, CPD’s are a chance for us to learn further.
I am sorry to say though, that sometimes architects simply do not work in this way, they know things but dont understand it, they learn things but don’t put into practise. I have met a few architects like this, and I firmly believe they are holding us all back. If you’re an architect that is not actively involved in the industry, then it’s about time you packed up shop – plenty of unemployed architects chomping at the bit to get back into work and show us all what job appreciation truly is.
Experience isn’t everything, and it counts for nothing if you’ve learnt nothing over years. Hit the books, read the best blogs and study the publications. Next time a client asks you a question, perhaps you’ll be able to answer it yourself, because right now, you simply don’t know any better than those you’re being employed by. Shame on you.