Research being carried out to inform regulator’s new code of conduct and practice

The general public has a positive view of architects despite few people having much awareness of the profession, according to a survey commissioned by Arb.

Architecture is assumed to have high standards because of a perceived absence of scandals and the extensive training required to work, the regulator has found.

But while the public value spaces which they use, they rarely think of who designed them and are mostly unaware of the names of UK practices.

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Arb will use the findings to inform revisions to its code of conduct

The survey, conducted by independent research agency Thinks Insight & Strategy, polled just over 2,000 people split into two groups, small-scale clients and users of public space.

It found just 20% of people follow news about architects, with headlines around the Grenfell Tower fire and bullying allegations at the Bartlett having gone largely unnoticed by the wider public.

One respondent said: “I don’t really follow much about architects, I just know they have to go to university for a long time.”

However, an overwhelming number of respondents said that having the right values, namely integrity, commitment and empathy, is crucial for professionalism among architects.

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Nearly nine out of ten agreed that architects had a responsibility to make sure buildings are designed safely, with the same amount believing that members of the profession should have guidelines in place to make buildings as safe as possible.

The research will be used by Arb to inform a review of its code of conduct and practice, which is being revised and updated to reflect the expectations that members of the public have of architects.

The regulator’s chair Alan Kershaw said: “This research offers an invaluable insight into what the public expects of architects. 

“The public want a highly trained profession with proven technical expertise, which is why the register is such a useful public resource. 

“Anyone working with a registered architect can be reassured that they’re appropriately qualified, have insurance in case things go wrong, and that there’s a code of conduct and practice to which they adhere.” 

Arb is hosting workshops with architects to discuss the research and develop the new code, which is expected to be published for consultation later this year.