What is & Who are the RIBA?

Located in its headquarters in London at 66 Portland Place, RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) was founded in 1837, and is the UK’s chartered body for architecture. They focus on the advancement and promotion of architecture and are committed to maintaining high quality, design and customer service.

“The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members”

The RIBA can be characterised as the public face of architecture and for this reason there is often confusion over who regulates the profession and maintains its standards, which as described “here” it is the ARB (architects registration board) who has the statutory responsibility.

riba headquarters

Unlike the ARB, the RIBA has an elected president that lasts for a two year term. During this time they chair a 60 member council made of predominantly chartered architects who are responsible for monitoring its members and the institute itself.

In addition to Portland Place, the 60 strong team are spread between offices in: Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Newcastle, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, and Tunbridge Wells.

RIBA Membership

RIBA offers a chartered membership system to registered architects but this unlike the ARB, is voluntary and not a requirement to practice as an architect. However a membership is required to use the term “chartered” and the RIBA suffix.

Similar to the ARB, RIBA also maintain their own directory of chartered members (RIBA’s Client Services) on their website (www.architecure.com), and this is also again freely available to the public. Finding an architect though this service means they will be both legally registered and chartered.

In addition to offering individual memberships, the RIBA also offer a “Chartered Practice Scheme” to eligible practices already managed by existing RIBA members. To obtain this, practices need to prove that they can comply with the high quality standards required, which are over and above those imposed on individual members.

In addition to the ARB’s requirements this includes a practice management plan, employment and health and safely policy and compliance with the RIBA mandatory requirements for continuing professional development (CPD).

The database holds approximately 4,000 practices, and provides information on how to find and contact them, the type of work they do and provides information on past projects. It also has a “shortlist” feature which is a sort of wish list service that makes it easy to group and sort your potential practices.

Note though, that not all ARB registered architects choose to be ‘chartered’, some just don’t see the benefit when weighed against the yearly membership fee.

riba headquarters interior

The RIBA Code and Services

Those who do choose the chartership however, are required to follow RIBA’s own code of conduct (featured below) in addition to the ARB’s. This can further add reassurance to a client, when looking to employ an architect as both codes must be simultaneously complied with.

  • The Three Principles of the RIBA professional code are:

1: Integrity

  • Members shall act with honesty and integrity at all times.

2: Competence

  • In the performance of their work members shall act competently, conscientiously and responsibly. Members must be able to provide the knowledge, the ability and the financial and technical resources appropriate for their work.

3: Relationships

  • Members shall respect the relevant rights and interests of others.

For a detailed breakdown, you can view and download the full code directly from the RIBA website here.

Lastly and as described here the RIBA publishes a ‘plan of work’ that comprises of eight separate work stages that each address a required phase of a construction process from inception through to completion. This has become something of an unofficial industry standard for most architects and is often used as a guide for stage payments once employed.

The work plan revised in 2013 is as follows:

  • 0 – Strategic definition.
  • 1 – Preparation and brief.
  • 2 – Concept design.
  • 3 – Developed design.
  • 4 – Technical design.
  • 5 – Construction.
  • 6 – Handover and close out.
  • 7 – In Use.

For further reading and a full breakdown of the services provided under each stage please click here and for an insight into what an architect actually does, click here.

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