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JACK OF ALL TRADES? How does the model of specialisation that happens in different professions affect that profession, and can architecture specialise based on these models as the future trajectory of the profession. BY: IRVINE TOROITICH GROUP A: TWELVE + 10th March 2020


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DECLARATION STATEMENT An essay submitted to the Manchester School of Architecture for the degree of Master of Architecture (MArch) I declare that the work in this essay was carried out in accordance with the Regulations of the Manchester Metropolitan University. The work is original except where indicated by special reference in the text and no part of the dissertation has been submitted for any other degree. The dissertation has not been presented to any other University for examination either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. Copyright in the text of this thesis rests with the author. Copies (by any process) either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions given by the author and lodged in the John Rylands Library of Manchester. Details may be obtained from the librarian. This page must form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission (in writing) of the author. The ownership of any intellectual property rights which may be described in this thesis is vested in the Manchester School of Architecture, subject to any prior agreement to the contrary, and may not be made available for use by third parties without the written permission of the university, which will prescribe the terms and conditions of any such agreement. Further information on the conditions under which disclosures and exploitation may take place is available from the Head of Department of the School of Environment and Development.

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ABSTRACT ‘How did we get here and where are we going? - The future of Architecture and Architects/Architecturally Trained and/or built environment.’ This essay is written as a think piece to try and investigate a potential trajectory of the architectural profession. During my Masters education at the Manchester School of Architecture, the reality of the profession of architecture has been challenged numerous times. The reality of what the architect actually does in the construction industry was presented to be on a steady decline, increasingly marginalised in the large projects. This lead to my curiosity of what does the modern architect actually do? I therefore decided to investigate this further, looking under the scope of specialisms, where the role of professional specialist is very clear and cannot be done by another to the same degree of that specialist. Architecture has never been presented to me as a career where the option of specialising is available, which therefore sparked the interest in trying to speculate the future of specialisation in architecture.








The Engineering Profession


The Legal Profession






The Scope Of Specialisation












Figure 1- Survey commissioned by the Architects Journal (AJ)

“72 per cent of the respondents … are unaware that architects apply for planning permission and a staggering 86 per cent have no idea architects select and manage contractors. Less than a fifth know architects prepare construction drawings, and only nine per cent understand that they control site budgets; 15 per cent don’t even know that architects design buildings.” (Omar, 2012)


This survey conducted on the British public, illustrates evidence that people don’t understand the role the architect plays in a construction project. This is often said to be the fault of architects themselves not being able to market their own value effectively clear to the public. The former RIBA president, Stephen Hodder, after this survey was conducted, suggested that it is not the responsibility of the RIBA, but the architect to ensure that they effectively communicate their value to the public in order to change these perceptions (Omar, 2012). Whether Stephen Hodder’s opinion is correct or not as to whom the responsibility lies to change these perceptions, they do need to change if the architecture profession is to survive into the future. This essay seeks to explore the potential of introducing a system of specialisation within architecture, from education into the professional world to help solve some of the issues the profession is facing. Specialisation has been key feature with professional services for a long time, adapting to the change in social and economic markets these professions are in. Looking into the history of professional specialisms, this essay will compare what has happened within the medical, engineering and legal sectors, showing the flexibility of specialisation within these professions, with evidence of how is has directly lead to their evolution, creating better and more respectable professionals as a result.

industry in its current state. The culture of the architecture profession is under intense scrutiny and perhaps for longer than most recognise, and the future prosperity of the construction industry in respect to architects, will depend on a much more precise and realistic calculation of their own specific contribution to shared success (Duffy, 2008). Exploring the idea of specific contribution, this essay will also analyse the transformation of the perceived value of architects through the years, leading to institutions like the RIBA and the ARB to be formed. These transformations may have allowed different roles to develop, making an entirely new profession to what would have potentially been an architectural specialism to pursuit. The effect this has had on the construction industry as a whole is profound to which this essay will study, showing how the current shift in responsibility has affected architecture in the past, and what the future trend might be. The aspiring conclusion to this research is a suggestion for the potential feasibility for architects to formally specialise, rooting into its training and education, and what that would potentially do to the profession.

There is evidence to show that once a specialism has happened in a certain field, there is tremendous advancements in that industry as well as in society, which will be shown in greater detail later one. The value of specialism can therefore be perceived to be very clear to the public as the direct output of the specialism is used to advance society. Perhaps what architecture as a profession is missing is the formalised specialism trend that goes with most professional services to help the public understand the value of the architect. This essay continues to illustrate exactly how the concept of architectural specialisms, in the different models explored from other professions, is viable to the 2




In order to fully comprehend the effect of formal specialisation to a profession, we must first investigate other professions that have adopted specialisms as a key character of their profession. This would provide an assessment of the trajectory of specialisation, to which if it were to happen to architecture, would be able to create a possible prediction of what possible possibilities and effects it may result to.

The need to specialise is not a new concept at all and has almost always been received with hostility from the generalists of that profession as this essay will show. The generalists initially advocate that specialisms would cripple the professions knowledge and skill, until an external cause occurs, altering the ideology of specialisms. The first profession that will be explored is the medical profession.

Doctor / Lawyer / Engineer




Doctor Lawyer

Figure 2- A comparison between specialisation architecture and other professions



Using the medical profession,this section will explore how technology and society can enable specialisations to occur in a profession, analysing the effects of these specialisms, in conjunction to medical institutions at the time, taking away applicable lessons into the architecture profession.



General Surgery






Figure 5 - The diversity of Medical Specialisations For the wide range of specialities it offers the medical profession is a suitable profession to assess the effect of professional specialisation, and the rate at which these specialism were formalised



erhaps one of the most specialised profession may arguably be the medical profession, with about 15 recognised official specialisations in the UK (Specialties, 2018), with a wide range of sub-specialties under each speciality. Currently, the education system encourages most of the graduates to narrow their studies into a specialism based on different factors to become an expert of. General practise in itself is also a particular kind of specialty, where specific training has to be provided to an individual to become a recognised general practitioner (GP). The emergence for medical specialities can be directly related to advancing technology in the medical field. The technological embrace in the medical field meant that they were able to study different parts of the human body at greater depths than every before. The microscope is one such technological advancement, allowing for the examination of organisms too small for the human eye and the stethoscope changed how doctors interacted with patients (Odonkor, 2018). These tools created an interest within the medical profession that allowed doctors to develop a focus of interest around different organs systems, which catalysed the adoption of various specialties (Odonkor, 2018) to be developed around these organs. This allowed the profession to grow exponentially in the different fields of interests which then led to formalised specialisms, a term that became popular in the 19th century (Odonkor, 2018). Technological change is a universal phenomenon that affects every sector and the architecture profession is undeniably among these affected. The interacting of doctors to patients may be linked to the interaction

of architects to buildings, where the variety of complex categories in the edifice can be argued to be potential points of specialisation, just as the doctors did with the human body. Technology has most certainly allowed different parts of the buildings to be a lot more intricate than ever before. If this aspect of the medical profession’s specialisation model would be adopted in architecture, it can then be argued that there is room to suggest that the evolution of the knowledge of various building components because of this may take a similar trajectory as the medicals field with human organs. Technology, however, cannot solely be presented as the reason to specialisation in the medical field. According to Weiz, a social medicine expert, some specialisation of medicine came from necessity. During the industrial revolution in the 19th century, increasingly large populations needed to be categorised in order to establish efficiency, in order to attend to as many patients as possible. This created administrative pressure to control large amounts patients which meant that the medical field had categories the population to be as efficient as possible (Weiz, 2003), ranging from pregnant women (Obstetrics and gynaecology) to children (Paediatrics). The social need for categories in the medical field automatically meant that doctors needed to specialise in these categories to see as many patients as efficiently as possible. Social pressures to the profession meant that it needed to adapt, and specialisation was the way to do so.

“By becoming specialized, a doctor could master a specific domain and see a large number of cases of the same type, which was necessary for research and serious medical training. Specialization thus became the new wave that medicine would ride to the future. “(0donkor, 2018) 6

The need to change based on society pressure shows the relationship the profession has to the people it serves. As time progressed, new diseases emerged and meant that medicine had to adapt and create possible ventures to be able to handle these new cases. Among these were Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Genetics and Genomics (Odonkor, 2018). The medical profession’s evolution is a direct result of the increased pressure to solve a problem with public health, and the more this keeps changing the more likely doctors will keep specialising.

needs to change and adapt to the society it lives in right now. There are different kinds of skills required in order to construct a project, and the architect’s role is becoming smaller and smaller as will be explored later on. Just like the general doctors of the 19th century losing cases to specialist for better efficiency, architects may be losing their value in construction projects to a range of different more specialised professions emerging because the architecture profession in the UK has not formally specialised.

Can the same thing really be said about the architecture profession and does it really fall accountable to social pressures? The premise that architecture is considered part of the arts in the UK, creates a different kind of relationship with society. This relationship will be explored in further detail later on, to perhaps provide a better understanding of how these societal pressures affect architecture. The extent and flexibility of medical specialisation would misdirect this essay to assume that it was widely accepted and encouraged from the beginning. Specialisation in medicine was indeed fiercely opposed at the brink of it. The more common medical generalists at the time, viewed specialisation as intellectual narrow-mindedness and dangerous to the medical science (Scott, 1992). Institution felt that specialisation would blind doctors from seeing the whole disease and therefore, the Paris Faculty of Medicine (The most prestigious medical institution at the time) voted against creating chairs in the faculty for the emerging specialties (Odonkor, 2018). This initial rejection to the idea at the time was soon overcome by the different pressure detailed above, paired with technological advancements in the field and a battle with different countries to acquire the most advance knowledge medical knowledge. Specialisation was inevitable. It did not matter that the vast majority of the profession were generalists and didn’t want to specialise, the medical professionals had to adapt to the changing society in order to stay efficient. Looking at architecture in this light, perhaps the architect as the overseer of the general design and construction process of any kind of project 7

The history of medical specialization makes one thing crystal clear: adapt or die. (Odonkor, 2018)



Because some aspects of the engineering profession is in the construction industry, it becomes an important comparison to investigate, where this section will show how engineering has adapted through specialisms, evolving the profession.

Figure 7 - Historic and modern military engineering The initial engineers were used for military purposes, to which this role is still evidently visible, however, it is in much less demand, as the threat of war has decreased over the years.


Engineering perhaps, just as much as the medical profession, has a wide variety of specialism a trainee can select from, reaching across various sectors, ranging from the construction industry with service and structural engineers, to the oil and gas industry, with a range of chemical engineers. The relationship engineering has to architecture in the construction process making it a particularly important profession to analyse its adaptation to the concept of specialism.

in the 19th century. The need for larger industrial structures saw the engineering profession rise to grater prominence in society (Ball, 2015). The demand and focus on industrial structure during this period restored the value of the engineer in society. The engineering profession strategically specialised itself as a key component of the revolution and was then perceived as necessary to drive the economy forward.

Engineering started off with a kind of specialism. For hundreds of years, the term engineer referred to the military engineer, who built engines of war and other military requirements (Ball, 2015). The profession’s specialised purpose to serve one entity giving it an already clear and focused goal and value. However, in the 19th century, engineering started to become civil (non-military) engineering. With war being the driver to engineering development, engineers ventured into the civilian world when the threat of war reduced, threatened by the weakness of being characteristically one speciality. It is at this point that civil engineering started to venture into the construction industry, which however the demand was in saw and flour mill construction, which was largely built by millwrights. The value of the engineer at this stage was in not very clear given that the military has less demand for engineers, and mills were already built by millwrights, until the industrial revolution

Analysing the growth of the engineering profession in the industrial revolution, provides evidence of a specialisation in a profession having the capability if driving the industry forward to which will generate more demand for that specialism. The need for improved transportation systems in different forms like railways and highways also allowed engineers to be able to adopt these specialisms and deliver these services. The better the transportation network became the further people were able to travel thus creating a bigger demand for better transportation systems, which needed more engineers to develop. The result to this specialism created more people using it, feeding back to the profit of the profession. The use of electricity shows that the specialisation to electrical engineering not only created more

“The development of electricity as both an industrial force and part of daily domestic life led to specialization in the new field of electrical engineering. The increased demand for electrical service demanded that the difficulties associated with electric-power transmission over distances be overcome. Early power users had to be close to the source, requiring numerous generating stations, which in turn became stimuli for local development and for further engineering achievement. “(Ball, 2015)


More Specialisms

Advancing Society

Greater Demand Figure 8- Diagram showing that specialism can ultimately lead to the growth of the profession through the growth of society. An evolving society demanded more from engineering, to which the profession responded by creating new specialism, which helped drive the technological change to create greater demand for engineers, who push the technology even further creating even more demand. demand for more electrical engineers but created the market for new engineering specialisations that dealt with electric-power transmission. The profession has therefore intrinsically affirmed its value to society from this specialism, as well as allowed the profession itself to mutually benefit and expand from this. Bringing this research back to the architecture profession, we can perhaps start to see why there is a perceived overall decrease in value of the architecture profession in the UK. If, considering

the specialism trajectory observed from engineering, specialism has the potential of creating more demand for the profession because of its ability to progress society, then the lack of specialisation may result to the value of the profession being lost in the progress of society. This profession can then be argued to not to have progressed with the intensity needed to create more demand for itself, and therefore a loss of value in the new society it operates in. General architects in the UK, which is the majority of the profession, have occupied an ever-increasing 11

smaller role in construction projects as a direct result of the perceived reduced demand for architects, and therefore reduced value in society. The survey mentioned in the introduction shows that certain percentages of the general public do not completely understand the role of the architect (Omar, 2012), evidently showing a decrease in the perceived value of the architecture profession in today’s society. The engineering model of specialisation may provide a solution to this problem that architects face, creating demand for their services, and benefiting from a mutual benefit between society and the profession as it specialises and adapts to the society it belongs to. This may not be a comprehensive solution to all the challenges pressed to the profession, but this essay presents a suggestion of a possible trajectory of increased value and demand based off specialised architectural services.

Engineering enjoys a reciprocal relationship with society that is often taken for granted (Ball, 2015)



The legal profession is very relatable to architecture not only in its rigorous training, but in the fact that the foundation of both professions is the fundamental appreciation individuals character to the service they offer. The lawyer and the architect often work to promote themselves both as understanding individuals as much as professionals. The Legal profession provides a different model of the evolution and reasoning behind specialisation, that may even more so closely relate to architecture as a profession.


ike the other skilled professions, training into the legal profession now means that, because of practicality, the subject to which the trainee would develop to a particular competence in their career would be limited a chosen speciality (Ariens, 1994). It is now as clear as day in the current society, that lawyers would need to specialise in order to gain the competence needed to operate in the legal field they choose. The authority behind the claim to professionalism with lawyers, does not lie in merely the degree, neither the licence to practise, but in the lawyers expertise in the fields they specialised in, be it environmental law, or real estate (Ariens, 1994). With this working definition of the legal profession, we can be able to see architecture in a different light, where the authority of the architect is in the licence to practise, to which is only half the story, if the legal profession is to be applied. This definition of the legal profession, especially in the America, where the most prominent law membership institute is located (American Bar Association), has had to be defined and redefined, resembling an identity crisis similar to what architecture has been facing in the UK. Upon redefining the professionalism, the legal profession integrated the idea of acquiring particularized knowledge of law (Ariens, 1994), which can be interpreted as a specialism, as one of the fundamentals of being a lawyer. Between the 19th and 20th century, as corporations grew in America, the office lawyer, emerged as one of the first specialisms outside the court. This however, as to be expected, was followed with criticism from the counterpart trial and county layers, exclaiming that office lawyer who only knew certain aspects of the law, instead of all of it (Ariens, 1994). The authority of the professional lawyer prior to this was in the expert training of all the law, and any diminution from the amount of law known weakened the lawyers standing position as a professional (Ariens, 1994). It is therefore clear that the definition of the legal profession did indeed take shift in redefining itself, from which the profession stands as evidence in the possibility of doing so. The office lawyer however, presented a different kind of threat to the profession, one that compromised the lawyer’s authority over the clients. The particularly large law firms were no longer independent of the client but were seen as captive employees to them 13

= Specialism


Figure 10- This model of specialism gives authority and independence over the clients interests, upholding the integrity of the service provided For Lawyers, specialisation has meant that they are able to practise unchallenged due to their expert knowledge of the law they chose to specialise in. (Ariens, 1994), as their integrity was often compromised based on their clients’ interests. This compromised one of the working definitions of professionalism which was the necessity to stay independent from the client and the market, and something needed to be done about it. It is at this point when we see the profession assess the trajectory of the profession and evolve what the legal profession currently is. Realising the danger of the place in society that lawyers were heading to due to the growth and prominence of specialised lawyers, critics suggested ways in which society and the profession can benefit better from specialisation, instead of driving towards the interests of the large

corporations. The profession underwent a ‘damage control’ operation, where they recognised that specialism in the profession is the future, and instead of resistance, there was a gradual change in the way specialism can be regulate for the better of the profession. The independence from the client’s interest in the name of a public service provided by the legal profession was a fundamental aspect of professionalism that needed to be maintained, not just by the individuals, but enforced by the institutions that represented the profession (Ariens, 1994). Specialisms were then seen 14

under a different light, where particular expertise gave lawyers authority in certain fields, which allowed them to be more than just instruments to the client’s interests (Ariens, 1994). The justification of client independence and the increasingly perceived grown in the complexity of law, required lawyers to limit their practise to particular areas of expertise where they were true professionals (Ariens, 1994). The American Bar Association (ABA) was then working on recognising, promoting and suggesting different formalised specialism in the legal profession. This took a few tries, dating back to failed proposals in the mid-20th, but specialism became not only recognised but recommended in the legal profession. The institution continued to set goals and standard for these specialisations, taking the legal profession to the high social standard it sits in our society today. From this analysis we can observe a unique trajectory of professional specialism not directly influenced by external factors, but in fact, tried to stay away from it. The legal profession also gives us a better understanding of how specialisms can be rooted in the definition of the profession, helping to create better more valuable and respected professional in society. The architect’s value in society, as shown earlier in this essay is under general scrutiny, and the model of specialisation as seen in the legal profession provides the potential for architects to gain authority over the particular fields they specialise in. Taking lawyers as an example, architects may regain their authority, being able to keep a certain healthy distance from the client, to ensure that particular structures keep their integrity to its end user and the environment, without compromising the building to the clients personal interests. The idea of a professional specialisms being the core basis to the definition and value to the profession, is another lesson that architecture can adopt, as perhaps the architecture profession may need to perform their own version of ‘damage control ’recognising that perhaps architectural specialisms may be the solution to declaring

the value of the architect. This responsibility cannot be laid to the individual themselves, but, taking example from the ABA, the architectural institutions would need to take a more active role in defining and enforcing proposed specialisms, maintaining a standard placed on these specialisms.

Figure 11- The RIBA should take example from the ABA in leading the profession towards recognised specialisms. Learning from the ABA, we see just how influential the professions institution can be to the evolution and formalisation of specialisation, evolving the profession into a more dynamic future.


Even though the client paid for the lawyer’s service, the lawyer was a professional, whose main purpose was pursuit of the learned art in the spirit of a public service. (Aries, 1994)



Figure 12- Adaptation within all kinds of professionalism is necessary to survive changing markets.

Figure 13- Specialisations can create more demand for the profession as society advances.

From the medical profession, we can conclude that specialisms may sometimes be necessary for the profession to progress. The professionals who do not specialise may loose their roles to the more specialised professionals, and therefore they need to adapt or be left behind.

Increased specialisation may direct society to advancing in the direction of that specialism, creating more demand for itself, benefiting the profession as a whole. This creates a better market for that specific specialism, and opportunity to grow other specialisms in the profession.


Figure 14- Specialisation gives the professional unchallenged authority over the market it operates in.

Figure 15- Formal specialisation needs the RIBA to oversee its evolution and adaptation.

In order to operate independent of the clients interests, specialisms can help the professional attain a level of authority over a particular field, guiding the clients based on their accumulated knowledge of the field, with as little compromise as possible.

The RIBA, as one of the leading institute of architecture in the UK, would need to be heavily involved to curate the trajectory in which specialisms would take, creating standards and goals to reach for each specialisation in order to evolve.





In the light of the different professions just explored and the different meanings specialisation has had to the respective industries, this chapter will explore different points within the architecture profession, to test these different models of specialisation to potentially help resolve some of the challenges it faces. The previous chapter has shown us that indeed specialisation in professional service are very useful and can evolve the profession into its future. Using the different models explored,

this chapter will delve into the feasibility of architectural specialisms investigating if at all, they can be applied in the architecture profession. This chapter will also analyse the evolution of architecture, in its value and productivity, with the intention of reviewing if the profession still has enough of a scope in the construction industry to make the most out of specialisms, or if its too late to specialise.

Figure 16- Exploring the evolution of architecture and its potential future trajectories in specialism


Doomed From The Start?


Manager? Artist?


Figure 17- Watercolour painting by former architect Thomas Schaller Painting by artist Thomas W. Schaller who originally trained as an architect, and found himself drawn to images of the built environment and eventually left designing behind to pursue fine art on a full-time basis (Barnes, 2019). The ambiguity between architecture and art may provide a clue to the ambiguity of the professions role in the construction industry.

Who is an Architect? Figure 18- The architects role has been out for debate numerous times in its history There is evidence (as shown earlier on) to suggest that there is a common misunderstanding of the architects role from the general public in the UK. To understand this confusion perhaps the history of the formalisation of the term architect in the UK may provide some answers. 21


he architecture profession has had trouble defining itself from the very beginning of its formalisation in the UK. There has been pressure to outline the architect’s role in relation to others who might also have claim to the territory (Samuel, 2018), especially during the early stages of the RIBA (before is Royal charter). The difficulty was in creating a scope of work that architects can claim undisputed, which may have been an early sign that focus was needed in the profession. The engineering model of specialisation shows that a professional service can indeed start with a speciality to then evolve into different specialities. The one thing that architecture had an undisputed claim to in the industry, was art (Samuel, 2018), which was progressively developed over the years. If we take the account of architecture as an art, then the idea of specialism based on societal needs like the medical profession and to some extent the engineering profession becomes more

“Architecture as art cannot effectively be subjected to external management: indeed, it can only occur if the architect is in complete control. Architecture as science can be subjected to external controls because output can be measured against some predetermined objective set by the architect.” (Hughes et al., 2015) difficult. An artist, in this case the architect, would theoretically be less accountable to external rules and regulations, and less accountable to the good of society, but only accountable to themselves and their well-respected peers (Saxon, 2006). It is therefore to no surprise that in the early 19th century, when a legislative framework

was put in place in the name of pubic health (Samuel, 2018) there was a resistance from the architecture profession declaring that the regulations crippled their artistic freedom in the construction industry. Architects hence developed a defensive attitude to the officers who were trying to implement these legislations (Harper, 1977). This resistance to the rules and regulations created for the benefit of society shows that architecture intended to operate with a level of independence, to which we can now draw in the model of specialisation the legal profession offers. Lawyers also needed a level on independence to operate as professionals in their field and the ABA therefore evolved specialisms to give lawyers authority over different field to be able to work unchallenged to the external interest of the client. Architecture can therefore look into this model of specialisation, to gain a level of influence gaining an independence architects seemingly want. Specialisation in the legal profession shows evidence of this possible future, to which may be an option to consider for the architecture profession. The beginning of this section shows the definition of architect’s role from the beginning needed refining, to which the 1851 census in the UK provides more evidence for this. 3000 ‘architects’ were registered in this census, many of whom would have been builders and members of other related trades, a number that rose to 8800 in 1940 (Samuel, 2018). It is the fact that different trades held claim to the title of architect that shows the need for the profession to set clear boundaries and specificity, where the architect’s role would not be confused for the builders. Within the medical profession, Surgeons and the General Practise of medicine before specialisation, were two completely different entities (Odonkor, 2018) however, as the medical profession specialised, these two practises evolved into different specialisms and were able to harmoniously work professionally under the medical profession umbrella. If the role of architecture allowed different trades to lay claim to the profession, it then provides an incentive to specialise just like the medical field setting defined roles and titles within


“The needs for two organisations to hold claim to the territory the architect possesses within the construction industry guarding the future of the profession is emblematic to the problems it faces� (Samuel, 2018).

Professions whose sole growth depend on specialism show promising evidence that the clearer the focus of the profession, the better justification it may claim to the value added and therefore higher fees. Specialisation can therefore be argued as a catalyst among other factors for higher fees charged for the service provided, showing an increase in the value and capital gain of the profession. Specialisation as this section has illustrated can be justified for various reasons to help solve some of the issues in the profession, if carefully implemented with a clear focus and intended result. The different specialisms from other professions would then provide a model to which architecture can analytically implement to direct the future of the profession.

the profession. It is perhaps one of the reasons, that the field needed a second organisation, the Architects Registration Board (ARB) for the sole purpose of protecting the architects title. Looking at the value of the profession, the service fee had for a long time been implemented by a fee scale created by the RIBA based on a percentage of the project (Samuel, 2018). As pressure from different bodies targeted the RIBA to remove this fee scale, it was retracted the in the late 19th century, and the fee scale then became a simple guidance tool. This was met with great difficulty as architects had not yet matured their marketing strategy to the public, both in terms of the value added to the industry and the justification for the actual costs of their services. This was perhaps due to an education system that was not suited to equip the graduate with the necessary skills needed to actually practise architecture in the market, which is still evident today (Gibb, 2019). Architects then begun to devalue themselves in the name of competition, up to a point where they were less able to lead a team, and started being managed by other (Samuel, 2018). This fee undercutting culture continued to a point where architecture became one of the lowest paying professions (Gibb, 2019), in relation to the equivalent lawyers fee, where the architecture fee is about a fifth of that, and about half of that of the equivalent Medic (Pringle and Porter, 2015).


Other Professional Services

Figure 19- Architecture is one of the lower paying professional services compared to the lawyers and doctors. Perhaps due to the erosion of the architects role in the construction industry, or the saturation of general architects without any specialism, the architects fee has been on a steady decline, and specialisation provides a profitable model to help reverse this decline. 23

“In the long term the profession could move to an integrated degree followed by a specialism. This would undoubtedly strengthen it in both a UK and a global context� (Gage and Shafiei, 2019).


The Scope Of Specialisation


n the previous section, we saw a trend where architects, because of financial restrain, started being managed by others as they lost their ability to lead a team. However much the profession claimed to be in control of the whole construction process, they were in a long-term retreat from this control, with the initial separation from constructors in the early 19th century being the first step away from a comprehensive role (Saxon, 2006). Architects was happy to step aside to let someone else working out calculations or manage people or money (Saxon, 2006) directly compromising the architects influence in the industry. The integrity of the role of the profession, due to its lack of clarity and perhaps specialism, allowed different professions to emerge with competitively greater prominence in the construction industry.

Figure 20- Investigating the possible future trajectory of specialism in architecture To understand how specialism may play a role within architecture, this section will investigate the scope or the architects role in the construction process, looking ats what has happened so far, and what possible outcome may surface from specialisation.

One specific example of this, is the architects growing inability to manage people, leaving the industry in demand for a manager, thus the project managers role emerged. Project managers promote themselves as enablers of communication (Dainty, 2006), which is argued to be the architect’s stronger qualities, but because of the architect’s all-inclusive role, the specific role of project management was compromised leaving a gap of project managers to be employed. The specific role of managing people in a construction team may have been a potential specialisation within the architecture profession, allowing the role to be fulfilled within the profession, keeping control of the construction processes. If one of the strengths of architects is the communication and management of consultants, then perhaps the formal specification of project management within the profession may have been field to explore. The fact that a new profession came to fill in this one specific role, shows the demand in the market for this specialism, which architects may have already missed the opportunity to specialise.

“It is argued that during the Victorian era, as architects refused to engage with the changing code of ethics, giving opportunity for other professions to emerge, like surveyors” (Samuel, 2018). 25


OTHER PROFESSIONS Figure 21- Sankey diagram showing the reduced output of the architect because some of the architect’s role has been lost to different professions. This diagram illustrates the output of the architect in construction project. Because of the changing society, the rise of new professions in the construction industry, and the development of new types of contracts, the architect is slowly being edged out of the construction process, to other professions. If architecture stays generalised, this allows different professions to progressively eat away different aspects of the architects role, reducing the professions overall productivity in the construction industry.


The surveyor, just like the project manager, is another profession that seized the opportunity caused by the architects’ ineffectiveness and became an integral part of the construction team, sometimes appointed even before the architect (Samuel, 2018). Because the scope of work the architect was responsible for remaining a largely generalised role, allowed chunks of different aspects of the profession to accommodate new professions into the construction industry. The need to formally specialise in architecture in this case would ensure the value of the architect remains intact, as well as their relevance in the field, so that other professions would not be able to lay claim to the architect’s role protected by its specialism.

towards this specialism, and potentially create the possibility of other specialists to grow from this.

Given the increasingly diluted nature of the role of the profession in the industry, architecture may sill have an opportunity to be able to specialise before another emerging industry takes away yet another aspect of the architecture from the profession.


The ability to coordinate a design model where consultants are required to feed information into the model, places the profession at a unique point where Architects are well suited to administer the overall leadership of the BIM model and must do so if they are not to be edged out of the process. Perhaps the arrival of BIM as a collaborative tool is a chance for architects to be able to inch its way into specialisms and gain control of the project, creating a clear and concise argument of the importance of the trade. This specialism has the potential to be at the forefront of the construction industry, and directly influence the value, and the fee structure of the profession for the better. With the UK government geared to fully integrated BIM in all their tendered projects, specialists in this modelling technique will be highly valued. This is evident in the emergence of BIM managers, who may also take away the modelling aspect of architects, coordinating drawings from the architect and contractors. Specialising in BIM modelling may stimulate a trajectory in the industry that we observed with engineering where the specialism may create a market for itself, allowing the industry to grow

Figure 22- Diagram showing architect at the centre of BIM development BIM in this situation, acts as a gateway to a potential specialism for the architecture profession, allowing architects to lead the construction industry through this specialism. BIM also acts as an example of certain trends that still affect the profession, and that architecture should take leadership in, before they are aged out of the process like many times before.


BIM presents architects with an opportunity to communicate and collect different types of value, including their own, but this needs strategic leadership and ‘effective communication’ (Dainty et al., 2006)




Figure 23- Specialisation may be the answer to architectures ambiguous identity to the public.

Figure 24- Becoming an expert in a particular filed provides justification for higher fees to increased value.

In creating specialisms, architecture would be able to create clear definitions to its role, which would relate to the specialism it pursuits. This provides clarity to the role of the architect, proving its value in the design and construction process.

Increased specialisation, will result in higher quality outputs and a higher level of professionalism because of the greater focus of a smaller field, providing greater value to the client justifying higher fees charged for it.




Figure 25- Specialisation protects the profession from roles being taken away from the architect.

Figure 26- BIM may present itself as a potential specialism to regain control of the construction process.

If architecture formalises specialisms, the roles these specialisms will take will be synonymous to that specialism, and will require the expertise of that specialism to operate. This will therefore mean, that other professions wouldn’t be able to lay claim to the roles performed within these specialism, securing the profession for future development,

BIM provides an intensive to create formalised specialisms around BIM, which will give architecture the opportunity to regain leadership in the construction industry. BIM is however an example of the potential of future processes and technology that would allow architecture to strategically specialise and directly influence their value in the construction industry.




There if overwhelming evidence from other professions, that formalised specialisation across different fields has a direct link to the evolution of the profession. Although with resistance at its introduction to the profession, specialism has been inevitable to the professions investigated.

American Bar Association. (n.d.) Americanbar.org. [Online] [Accessed on 9 March 2020] https://www. americanbar.org/.

The strategic decision on the range of specialities to focus on is perhaps the downfall of specialism, as society is always changing, meaning different kinds of specialisms may be outdated as time passes. This however only means that the profession will need to adapt again to the society it is in, creating new and relevant specialism. Staying constant in an ever changing society is perhaps the biggest mistake a profession can make, and evidence shows that architecture may be in the middle of making that mistake.

Ball, N. (2015) History of Engineering. Thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. [Online] [Accessed on 4 March 2020] https://thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/ article/history-of-engineering.

In my own career aspiration, this research has revealed to me that I need to set a clear focus for myself within the construction industry, perhaps not in the traditional architecture practise, and progress my career that way, keeping a critical awareness of the rate at which society is changing. Staying too broad as most of the profession, will lead me to an ever decreasing role in the construction industry, struggling to justify my relevance.

Ariens, M. (1994) ‘Know the law: a history of legal specialization’. South Carolina law review, 45(5) pp.1003 - 1060.

Dainty, A. (2006) Communication in Construction: Theory and Practice .. Oxford: Taylor & Francis. Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2013) The Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment. London. Gibb, G. (2019) ‘Time for diversity. Architectural education needs to get real’. Defining Contemporary Professionalism, pp.116-119. Harper, R. (1977) ‘The Conflict between English Building Regulations and Architectural Design 1890– 1918’. Journal of Architectural Research, 6(1) pp.24-33. Homepage. (2017) Rics.org. [Online] [Accessed on 6 March 2020] https://www.rics.org/uk/. Imrie, R. and Street, E. (2011) Architectural Design and Regulation. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Lorenz, K. and Marosszeky, M. (2020) ‘Managing cultural differences in the global construction industry: German and Austrian engineers working in Australia’. People and Culture in Construction, 1(1). Murdoch, J. and Hughes, W. (2015) Construction Contracts: Law and Management. 5th ed. London: Routledge. NHS specialties. (n.d.) Bma.org.uk. [Online] [Accessed on 5 March 2020] https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/


Images and Illustration career/studying-medicine/insiders-guide-to-medicalspecialties/nhs-career-choices. Odonkor, C. (2018) Adapt or die: lessons fro m the history of medical specialization. Medium. [Online] [Accessed on 4 March 2020] https://tincture. io/adapt-or-die-lessons-from-the-history-of-medicalspecialization-d9be9b414829. Petrie, R. (2014) Architects Are Facing A Silent War. Architect Marketing Institute. [Online] [Accessed on 6 March 2020] https://archmarketing.org/architectsfacing-silent-war/.

Cover Page Image- Designs, D. (2016) Jester Joker Cards Vinyl Sticker. Amazon.com. [Online] [Accessed on 3 March 2020] https:// www.amazon.com/Jester-Joker-Cards-VinylSticker/dp/B01KP6XMAS. Contents Page image- Gadekar, A. (2018) Transformation of the Construction Industry – An Outline. Estimators Group. [Online] https://estimatorsgroup.com/2018/12/05/ construction-industry-transformation/.

Pringle, J. and Porter, H. (2015) ‘Education to Reboot a Failed Profession’. Radical Pedagogies.

Figure 1 – The Architects’ Journal. (n.d.) Architectsjournal.co.uk. [Online] https://www. architectsjournal.co.uk/.

Royal Institute of British Architects. (n.d.) Architecture. com. [Online] [Accessed on 9 March 2020] https://www. architecture.com/.

Figure 2 to 6- Author

Samuel, F. (2018) Why architects matter. London: Routledge.

Figure 7- Engineering. (n.d.) Army.mod.uk. [Online] https://www.army.mod.uk/who-weare/our-schools-and-colleges/engineering/.

Saxon, R. (2006) The Future of the Architectural Profession: A Question of Values. 1st ed. Scott, P. (1992) The Medical Research Novel in English and German, 1900-1950. Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press. Specialties. (2018) Medschools.ac.uk. [Online] [Accessed on 5 March 2020] https://www.medschools.ac.uk/ studying-medicine/after-medical-school/specialties. The Ultimate List of Medical Specialties. (2017) Sgu. edu. [Online] [Accessed on 5 March 2020] https:// www.sgu.edu/blog/medical/ultimate-list-of-medicalspecialties/. Weisz, G. (2003) ‘The Emergence of Medical Specialization in the Nineteenth Century’. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 77(3) pp.536-574.

Figure 8 to 15- Author Figure 16 – Architecture Evolution. (n.d.) Dreamstime. [Online] https://www. dreamstime.com/stock-illustrationarchitect-architecture-evolutionimage73517215. Figure 17- Barnes, S. (2019) Former Architect Captures the Emotion of Architecture in Watercolour Paintings. My Modern Met. [Online] https://mymodernmet.com/thomasschaller-watercolor-paintings/. Figure 18 to 26- Author







Having gone through this module, with the given lectures and the research undertaken over the course of the year, the biggest gain I have attained from this is the awareness of what’s happening in the profession. I have gained an awareness to be able to critically analyse the profession in the UK, and more so to be able to analyse what possible trends might follow in Kenya, as I am an international student.

During this course, I have realised that however much I would like to engage with the speakers that talk to us, I as not able to lead the conversations I had with them to the depth I intended to. Because of my intentional need to listen to people and analyse ideas before speaking, I sometimes undersell my thoughts and ideas to my peers.

In setting up a practise, has given me a business understanding of how to target a certain client, and create a marketing strategy to be able to achieve this goal. I have been able, through the teamwork projects, to enhance my leadership skills, and communicate effectively with different personalities. Maintaining relationships between people is a quality that I have realised an been pointed out to me during the duration of my education, which I have learned plays a critical part in maintaining clients for repeat projects in architecture.






The opportunities I am encouraged by after this course, is the range of different architectural practise to which I am currently exploring. This flexibility has opened a wide range of skills applicable not only in the UK, but in my home country (Kenya), taking advantage of architectural degree.

The biggest threat, which has been for a while, is my international status. Being an international student, chasing after a part 3 qualification is always very challenging in the UK. The Brexit campaign has loosed it restrictions on international students to work, which provides a slightly wider opportunity to do so.

This essay has also shed some light in the possibility if exploring specialisms in architecture, with the intention of creating more value for myself in a society where the architects value is decreasing. In future I see myself running an office in East Africa, exploring the idea of creating a ‘franchise’ where different people would be able to run their architectural practise under the umbrella of my company. An idea I was first exposed to during the duration of this course. Th e practise would specialise in urban master-planing, inspired from my studio engagements.

This essay has also shed some light to the declining value of the architect, which only confirms what the professional studies module suggests by a broken architecture profession. This genuinely scares me about the future of the practise, and has motivated me to looks for value, and not just the license to practise.


DEAR FUTURE STUDENTS, I can say with absolute confidence that the professional studies module of perhaps on of the most important modules I have taken in my education career. I t is a shame that it cam on the very last point of my part 1 and 2, but I am glad it is there. It has enhanced my understanding of architectural practise as an individual and in a company, which is not quite what I expected it to be. Having worked prior to my part 2, the conversations about the direction of the profession in this module is unique to it, and would not have gain the experience and knowledge I have now. This is largely due to the array of working professional that engaged with us during the term, giving us insight into the actuality of practising architecture. It is through this module that I have come to a realisation of my future in architecture as an international student, which will not by in traditional practise, but to explore the wide range of various architectural practise I have come to find out exists! And it is very exciting, (Well just after I realised just how sad going down the wrong path of architecture can be). I therefore leave you with this advice to help you during your module and in your career prospects.

Stay engaged with the conversations outside of the university.

Don’t miss the life changing talks Rob and John have planned

Reflect what you learn with what you want out of architecture.

Start early, allowing time for critical thinking.

TWELVE + Communicate | Design | Build




Profile for Irvine Toroitich

Jack Of All Trades  

How does the model of specialisation that happens in different professions affect that profession, and can architecture specialise based on...

Jack Of All Trades  

How does the model of specialisation that happens in different professions affect that profession, and can architecture specialise based on...


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