Consumer Confidence in the Title ‘Architect’

Kate Fitzgerald , 3 July 2019

ACA – WA Committee member Kate Fitzgerald discusses the growing trend for incorrect use of the title ‘Architect’ in an age of declining consumer confidence, and how the time is right to reclaim the title.

The West Australian branch has recently been contacted by members working in the residential sector who are concerned by the growing trend for project builders and designers to market their homes as ‘architect designed’. As readers are aware, the law protects the term ‘architect’, and a negative experience with one of these unregistered entities can impact consumer confidence in the architecture profession as a whole. 

Confidence in the residential architecture sector by the general public has also been affected by negative media and marketing directed at the profession by competing luxury housing providers. Unable to legally claim ‘architect’ status themselves, many of these companies bolster their sales pitch with an array of unsubstantiated arguments against using a professional architect.

The ACA – WA encourages anyone concerned about the misuse of the title to lodge a query with your local Architects Board. We have a member of the West Australian Board on our committee – Leigh Robinson – and he has confirmed that the Board investigates all enquiries and has handed down fines to those found guilty of contravening the Act. Head to the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia for links to all state and territory registration boards.

We also encourage you to read Rachael Bernstone’s post on the topic. Rachael has called for a campaign to raise awareness and report misleading advertisements and articles to the registration boards. She promises to work with other communication firms to “stamp out misleading use of the protected term ‘architect’.”

The increasing use of the term does also present an opportunity on some platforms. For example, #architecture and its use on social media represents an opportunity for the profession to re-market itself as the only design profession with a comprehensive accredited national registration process. In a time of decreasing confidence in the construction industry, there has never been a better time to remind the public why #Architects matter.

Building consumer confidence in the profession is a complex task, and we are all working together towards a common goal across both the commercial and residential sectors.

Kate Fitzgerald is a member of the ACA – WA Committee and Founder and Director of Whispering Smith in Fremantle.