I’ll assume that everyone understands what an Architect is, but just to be on the safe side I thought I’d reference the Oxford dictionary definition of an Architect for clarity




noun: architect; plural noun: architects

  1. 1.

a person who designs buildings and in many cases also supervises their construction.

“the great Norman architect of Durham Cathedral”

synonyms: designer, planner, builder, building consultant, draughtsman“the great Norman architect of Durham Cathedral”


So, now that’s cleared up, in short an Architect must undergo extensive and numerous years of training in order to qualify and design buildings.

Surely then, only Architects can design buildings in the UK? Not quite true, you see there are many other routes, positions and titles in the Architectural world, many of which are integral to the successful design of buildings that you have most probably heard of, structural Engineer for instance springs to mind.

But what you may not be aware of is that there quite often are other professionals involved in the process, some you may assume to be an Architect but in fact have a different title. This “team”  of professionals can quite often include Architectural Technologists and Technicians who are involved in the design process. In many cases an Architect isn’t even involved in a project and instead the creative design process through to implementation can be led by this mysterious professional, the Architectural Technologist. Even in some large national practices that I worked for in the past employed Technologists to lead design teams and collaborate with other professional companies involved in the process.

But who or what is an Architectural Technologist?

In short it’s another professional that is capable of designing a building from conceptual sketches and seeing the ensuing process through the various design and detailing stages to the build. CIAT (Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists) state a Technologist as………

” Architectural Technologists, are specialists in the building design and construction with particular expertise in the sound technical performance of buildings.

Architectural Technologists are qualified and recognised to lead a project from inception through to completion, which includes contractual, planning and regulations issues and final certification. They can be involved in projects of all types such as commercial, industrial and residential, including adaptation, conservation, conversion, maintenance, management, new build or restoration.

Architectural Technologists may also be employed by manufacturing companies, house builders, local authorities, housing associations and similar or be academics or participate in research.”


So what’s the difference I hear you ask?

Well, the difference is that they  underwent a different education and training process, whilst Architects main focus is on Architecture a Technologists training has more focus on the technology of materials aswell as overall design training, undergoing an Architecture AND technology degree rather than the traditional Architects degree.

Whilst admittedly this doesn’t take as many years as an Architect (for instance my degree lasted 4 years compared with 7 years to become a fully qualified Architect) a Technologist is still trained to design buildings and in some areas of construction may even have a greater knowledge than an Architect.


Architectural Technologist - JCAD - University Project Example - Environmental Study SheetArchitectural Technologist - JCAD - University Project Example - Technical Details Sheet1

Project sheets for my Architecture and Technology degree


To give you an idea of a Technologists training I’ve attached some slides (above) from one of my projects submitted as part of my Architecture and Technology degree whilst studying at Sheffield Hallam University. In this instance the project was to design a transport interchange for Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster and the images show assessments of the site, environmental features such as Thermal Mass and natural ventilation for cooling, Solar gains and shading for summer and winter months as well as construction principals and theories.


One key difference that should however be highlighted is that only an Architect who is registered with the ARB (Architects Registration Board) is legally allowed to call themselves an Architect (frustratingly general members of the public don’t really differentiate between an Architect and a Technologist, assuming we are all the same) however there is no restriction on the term Architectural Designer, after all we have undergone an Architecture and technology degree that focuses on design. As such if you see an Architectural practice that doesn’t reffer to itself as Architect then 9 times out of 10 they will refer to them selves as an Architectural Design practice. Chances are, just like JCAD, they will be run by Technologists who are more than capable of meeting your design brief and requirements.


In Conclusion

So if you are looking for someone to design your dream home, house extension or new office building rest assured you’re in safe hands be they an Architect or Technologist, but rather than focusiing on their title why not do some back ground research into the practice, check for reviews on line, speak to past clients and get to know your preffered practices before making that huge decision.

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