What is the ARB?
…In this article we explore the roles, responsibilities, and standards upheld by the ARB, including the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice, which outlines the professional expectations for registered architects in the UK.
Additionally, we delve into the distinction between ARB registered architects and other design professionals, highlighting the guarantees and protection clients receive when working with an ARB registered architect.
What is & who are the ARB?
The ARB (Architects Registration Board) is an independent statutory body established under the ‘Architect’s act 1997’ by parliament to regulate, maintain and protect the architect’s profession in the UK.
Governed by a board of fifteen members, containing seven registered architects, and eight members of the public, one of the board’s principle duties is to protect the ‘Architect’ title.
Anyone who claims to be and/or practices under a title containing the word architect must be part of the ARB Register of Architects which currently holds approximately 34,500 architects on record.
The register ensures that only people who have had the relevant education, training and practical experience can offer the professional services of an architect. This unlike the Royal institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a necessity and not optional.
More on RIBA here
What does this mean?
In line with section 20 of the Architect Act, anyone unqualified who offers the services under the title is committing a criminal offence “A person shall not practice or carry on business under any name style or title containing the word “architect” unless he is a person registered under this Act”. This ensures that the standards of the profession are maintained in both the public and private domains.
There are however a few exceptions which allow landscape architects, golf course architects and naval architects to use the title. It is also important to note that in the UK any person is legally permitted to design buildings, and often will use the title architectural or architecture designer to describe their occupation.
These terms are not legally protected and so are free for anyone to use, but note that they also have no governing body or regulatory code to maintain and ensure any particular level of service. So whilst often providing much of the same service, a client doesn’t gain the guarantee and protection that comes with an ARB registered architect.
The Register of Architects is freely available and open to the public via the ARB website.
Aside from preventing the misuse of the title, the ARB under the 1997 Architect’s Act, the Architects Registration Board plays a vital role in regulating the architectural profession in the UK and ensuring that architects maintain high standards. The ARB provides a range of services and support for architects, including:
- Maintaining the Register of Architects: The ARB keeps an up-to-date register of all practicing architects in the UK. This register allows clients and the public to verify the qualifications and professional status of an individual claiming to be an architect.
- Setting Professional Standards: The ARB issues the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice, which outlines the expected professional conduct, ethics, and practice standards for registered architects. This code helps architects understand their responsibilities and maintain the highest levels of professionalism.
- Prescribing Qualifications: The ARB is responsible for determining the qualifications required to become an architect in the UK. They assess and recognize qualifications from UK schools of architecture and ensure that educational standards are met.
- Investigating Complaints: The ARB investigates complaints made against registered architects regarding their professional conduct or competence. This process helps maintain public trust in the profession and ensures that architects adhere to the expected standards.
- Acting as the UK’s Competent Authority: The ARB serves as the competent authority for architects in the UK. This role involves facilitating the mutual recognition of professional qualifications within the European Union and beyond, enabling architects to practice in other countries.
- Providing Guidance and Resources: The ARB offers guidance and resources to architects on various aspects of professional practice, such as setting up a business, professional indemnity insurance, and continuing professional development.
While the ARB’s primary focus is on protecting the public interest and maintaining the integrity of the architectural profession, its functions and services help architects navigate their professional responsibilities and uphold high standards in their work.
The ARB code of conduct
This requires the ARB to set and issue a code of expected professional standards, conduct and practice that is expected of any registered architect; “The ARB Code of Conduct”. This code brings together a series of principles that acts as guidance for how architects should run and maintain their professional lives. Protecting and benefiting the members of the public using them which in turn maintains the public confidence in the profession.
Under The Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice, an architect is expected to:
- Be honest and act with integrity
- Be competent
- Promote your services honestly and responsibly
- Manage your business competently
- Consider the wider impact of your work
- Carry out your work faithfully and conscientiously
- Be trustworthy and look after your clients’ money properly
- Have appropriate insurance arrangements
- Maintain the reputation of architects
- Deal with disputes or complaints appropriately
- Co-operate with regulatory requirements and investigations
- Have respect for others
Standards such as standard 8 “Have appropriate insurance arrangements” and standard 2 “Be competent”, are as simple as they sound and allow members of the public to be confident in hiring an architect and reassured that the services required will be from a genuine professional.
Each architect is sent a copy of these standards when they first enter into the profession and would have studied them during his or her professional examination, and so they should be very familiar with them.
Failure to follow this guidance does not directly constitute as an act of unacceptable professional conduct or incompetence but it may be taken into account if a complaint is made and the ARB are asked to investigate if standards have fallen below what is expected.
ARB vs RIBA – What is the difference between ARB and RIBA?
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are two separate entities that serve distinct roles within the architectural profession in the UK. Here are the main differences between the two:
Legal Requirement and Membership
ARB: The ARB is an independent statutory body established under the Architects Act 1997. Being registered with the ARB is a legal requirement for anyone who wants to practice as an architect in the UK. Anyone using the title “architect” must be registered with the ARB and adhere to their regulations and standards.
RIBA: The RIBA is a professional membership organization founded in 1834. Membership with RIBA is voluntary, and architects can choose to join for access to resources, networking opportunities, and professional recognition. RIBA membership is not a legal requirement for practicing as an architect in the UK.
ARB: The ARB’s main responsibilities include protecting the “Architect” title, maintaining the Register of Architects, prescribing qualifications required to become an architect, setting the standards for education and professional practice, and investigating complaints against registered architects regarding conduct and competence.
RIBA: RIBA’s primary objectives are to advocate for architecture, support its members through resources and development, set professional standards for architectural practice (e.g., RIBA Chartered Practice accreditation), recognize excellence in architecture through awards, and develop and maintain architectural education standards.
ARB: The ARB focuses on regulating the architecture profession and ensuring that architects meet the required standards in education, conduct, and practice. Its main concern is protecting the public interest and maintaining the integrity of the profession.
RIBA: RIBA’s focus is on promoting architecture and supporting architects through professional development, resources, and networking opportunities. RIBA aims to advance the profession, raise awareness of the value of good design, and influence government policy.
In summary, the ARB is a regulatory body responsible for protecting the public interest and maintaining the standards of the architecture profession, while RIBA is a voluntary membership organization that supports architects and promotes architectural excellence.
FAQ’s about the ARB (Architects Registration Board)
What is the point of the ARB? do not repeat the above
The ARB’s overarching purpose is to serve as a safeguard for the public interest in the field of architecture in the UK. While the specific functions and responsibilities of the ARB have been discussed above, the key points of the ARB’s existence can be summarized as follows:
- Public Trust: The ARB builds public trust in the architectural profession by ensuring that only qualified individuals can use the title “architect” and offer architectural services.
- Quality Assurance: The ARB’s role in prescribing qualifications and setting educational standards ensures that architects possess the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality services to their clients.
- Accountability: By investigating complaints against registered architects and enforcing the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice, the ARB holds architects accountable for their actions, thereby maintaining the profession’s integrity.
- Consumer Protection: The ARB’s efforts to regulate the profession and maintain high standards help protect consumers by ensuring they receive competent and ethical architectural services.
In summary, the ARB’s primary purpose is to protect the public interest by regulating the architecture profession, maintaining high standards, and ensuring that only qualified, competent, and ethical individuals practice as architects in the UK.
What is an ARB qualification?
An ARB qualification refers to the education, training, and experience requirements prescribed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) for individuals to become registered architects in the UK. The ARB does not provide a specific qualification itself; rather, it sets the criteria for the qualifications that individuals must meet to be eligible for registration.
The standard route to becoming an ARB-qualified architect in the UK involves three main stages:
- Part 1: This stage comprises a recognized degree in architecture, usually a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) or a Bachelor of Arts/Science in Architecture (BA/BSc). The degree program must be accredited by the ARB and typically takes three to four years to complete.
- Part 2: After completing Part 1, individuals continue to a postgraduate program, usually a Master of Architecture (MArch) or Diploma in Architecture, which is also ARB-accredited. This stage generally takes two years to complete.
- Part 3: Following Part 2, individuals must complete a minimum of 24 months of practical work experience under the supervision of a registered architect. After completing the work experience, they must pass the Part 3 examination, which assesses their professional competence, knowledge of the Architects Code, and understanding of professional practice. This exam is administered by an ARB-recognized institution.
Upon successful completion of all three stages and the Part 3 examination, individuals can apply for registration with the ARB, allowing them to use the title “architect” and offer professional architectural services in the UK.
It’s worth noting that there are alternative routes to ARB registration for those with non-standard qualifications or international qualifications. These candidates may need to undergo an ARB-prescribed examination or provide evidence of their education and experience to be considered for registration.
How do I find out if an architect is registered?
To find out if an architect is registered, you can use the online Architects Register provided by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). The register is a publicly accessible database that lists all registered architects in the UK. You can search for an architect by their name, registration number, or location.
To access the Architects Register, follow these steps:
- Visit the ARB’s website at www.arb.org.uk.
- Click on the “Find an Architect” link or navigate directly to the Register by visiting www.architects-register.org.uk.
- Enter the architect’s name, registration number, or location in the search bar.
- Click the “Search” button to view the results.
If the architect is registered, you will find their information, including name, registration number, and contact details. If you cannot find the architect in the register, it could mean that they are not registered with the ARB, and you should proceed with caution if you plan to engage their services. Remember that using the title “architect” without being registered is against the law in the UK.