This blog is to share my thoughts and experiences relating to Architectural Technology. The content will cover the creative professional discipline of Architectural Technology and the diverse role of the Chartered Architectural Technologist. I will seek to address current matters from education and industry practice that draw from the core themes of design, technology, and management. Stay tuned for more by subscribing below to get notified when new posts are made.
What are the issues that surround attracting people to a career in Architectural Technology? This is a vital question to consider in the development of the profession and is one that I will address in this post. It is important at this point to define Architectural Technology, so that the perspective taken in this blog is clear before the influences on education and practice are discussed.
Architectural Technology is a creative discipline concerned with the design and realisation of the built environment. The focus of this profession is the development of responsible high-performance practical solutions that respond to architectural need through the implementation of digital and physical technologies. Chartered Architectural Technologists are experts in the development of engineered architectural solutions. They form the link between concept and realisation by designing for production and performance in use, to ensure that buildings can be constructed and that they work as intended. Leaders in the adoption and integration of technologies that facilitate the creation and improvement of the built environment, Chartered Architectural Technologists are highly skilled in the coordination of design and they can manage projects from conception to completion.
It is apparent from the nature and quantity of current job advertisements that there is great demand for Architectural Technologists. However, in 2018 just over 600 people accepted a University place within the UK to study Architectural Technology; by comparison, in the same year there were just under 4000 acceptances to study architecture, circa 3700 for civil engineering, and around 1200 for quantity surveying. This disparity is likely related to a lack of awareness of the discipline. Those wishing to follow a built environment career probably have a perceived understanding of the roles of architect, civil engineer, and quantity surveyor, which may to some extent explain the greater numbers related to these professions. Perhaps some of those taking up architecture were drawn to it for reasons that more closely align with Architectural Technology, but a misconception of the modern role of the architect led them to choose to study that subject.
There is a clear need to attract people to pursue a career in Architectural Technology to meet demand. It is imperative that awareness is raised of Architectural Technology as a potential career path. There are several actions that could assist the achievement of this aim to raise the profile of the discipline. Firstly, Architectural Technologist role models need to be developed and made visible to promote the profession to the public, and practices can contribute to this through the showcasing of their work. Perhaps, the development of a platform to communicate exemplary projects to a mass audience could facilitate this endeavour. Whilst industry awards already celebrate the work of professionals, there are opportunities to expand the reach of this type of exposure. Secondly, Architectural Technology needs to be promoted as a potential career path in schools and colleges. Some university academics and practitioners in industry are already actively engaging with general and further education, but the approach currently taken relies upon self-motivated individuals. A strategy is required for constant and consistent promotion, which is sustainable in the long-term. Thirdly, the wide demographic of those that might be interested in an Architectural Technology career should be engaged. For example, it is increasingly apparent that many seek to develop a second career, and this may present opportunities to attract a diverse range of people. Finally, the routes through education are a key part of attracting people to Architectural Technology and these will be discussed in my next post.
In this first post I want to introduce myself and tell you a bit about my background in the construction industry. Since 1994, I have worked in construction, architectural practice, technical consultancy and academia, and I am currently the Course Director (Grade 9) for Architectural Technology at Leeds Beckett University. I am a Chartered Architectural Technologist (MCIAT), Chartered Builder (MCIOB), and Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv). I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I am passionate about the development of others and the advancement of the Architectural Technology discipline.
My career in the construction industry began when I embarked upon an apprenticeship at the age of 16 and successfully completed my training to become a carpenter and joiner. A desire to develop my career further led me into a management role within a construction company. During this period, I completed a HND in Building Studies and was quickly promoted to Contracts Manager. Through this position I dealt with all aspects of the daily running of a small construction company.
Having gained a solid grounding in the practical and managerial aspects of building, I decided to expand my skill base further. I successfully gained employment with a well-established architectural practice in 2002. In this technical design role, I was an integral part of a team dealing with a broad range of projects that included large commercial and retail, education, healthcare, light industrial and residential developments. Alongside this busy role I successfully achieved a First-Class Honours degree in Architectural Technology and an MSc in Sustainable Architecture.
Whilst in practice I was invited to deliver several guest lectures at Leeds Metropolitan University, and published research from my undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. This inspired a taste for academia that led me to become Senior Lecturer in Architectural Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University in 2007. I taught a range of technical and design-based subjects across undergraduate and postgraduate courses and was responsible for the Course Leadership for BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology. I instigated and oversaw many developments, including a complete review and redesign of the course provision and creation of designated studio facilities, which ensured that the course was revalidated and reaccredited. I gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education in 2009 which provided me with the theoretical basis to design, develop and deliver innovative higher education programmes.
In 2010 I returned to industry and took a position with a national architectural practice leading the technical design and management of large retail projects. Whilst in this post, I recognised an opportunity to establish a company of my own. I formed an architectural technology practice in 2011, offering technical design consultancy and specialising in the thermal modelling of junction details. I maintained my links to higher education by undertaking part-time lecturing at the University of Huddersfield, teaching technology subjects to undergraduate and post-graduate courses. This was followed between 2012 and 2017 by a post at Leeds Beckett University leading research into the forensic assessment of thermal bridging and moisture transfer. In 2017, Leeds Beckett University created the role of Course Director to which I was successfully appointed. I lead the strategic development and delivery of BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology and MSc Architectural Technology and Design, and engage in research, enterprise, and consultancy activities. In 2019, I was awarded a PhD for my thesis “Assessing the Impact of Thermal Bridging on Building Fabric Performance”. Through this original work I developed a methodological framework to quantify the effects of as-built thermal bridging and identify its causes.
Education has been at the very heart of my career, and my vocational, academic, and professional qualifications have been achieved through part-time study balanced with full-time employment. My experiences have led me to recognise the importance of applying learning through practice as an integral part of the education process. This approach is one that I strongly believe can be used to strengthen and develop the Architectural Technology discipline in years to come.