What Does an Architect Do?

What Does an Architect Do? Header Image

Jul 11, 2022

If you haven’t had much experience designing or remodelling a house, commercial or public building, you may not fully understand what an architect is or what they do. This article will cover the following topics to increase your understanding of the services and expertise architects offer.

  1. What is an architect?
  2. What qualifications do you need to be an architect in the UK?
  3. What is the difference between an architect and an interior designer?
  4. What services does an architect provide?
  5. Should I work with an architect on my next project?


What is an architect?

An architect is a skilled professional who leads the process of planning, designing and creating functional spaces where people live, work and socialise. Buildings shape human experiences across every type of application, from houses, shops and leisure attractions to educational facilities, offices and restaurants. Architects are responsible for balancing art and science to create spaces that deliver functionality to match the purpose while enhancing overall experiences.


What qualifications do you need to be an architect in the UK?

Architects have a diverse skill set that combines numerical intellect with creativity. A qualified architect could have qualified through a university degree, an apprenticeship or work experience but will always have two essential qualifications:

  • An architecture degree recognised by the Architects Registration Board (ARB)
  • Two years of professional architecture experience

It is also worth noting that architects or architectural firms with RIBA Chartered Membership have proven their commitment to the highest professional and ethical standards.


What is the difference between an architect and an interior designer?

There is often confusion about the role of an architect and an interior designer. While an architect will design and deliver the complete building, a designer is responsible for creating the desired look, mood and feel within the building so that it appeals to occupants aesthetically.

During a building or remodelling project, an architect will lead on more technical aspects and focus on building form, the materials used and the planning and construction process. Architects design and plan the outer shell of a building, ensuring the structure adheres to the measurements and regulations.

An interior designer focuses more on what their client wants and needs. This includes day-to-day functionality influenced by furniture layout, or the patterns and colours that enhance the aesthetic appeal.


What services does an architect provide?

There are four key stages an architect will oversee when designing a building. These include the schematic design, design development, construction documentation and construction administration.

Schematic Design

During the schematic design phase, an architect will work closely with the client to fully uncover the project needs, assess the construction sites and experiment with first design concepts. Using tools such as schematic diagrams, sketching and rendering, architects convey their spatial ideas to the client in a quick and simple way.

Design Development

Once the client approves the schematic design, attention turns to the finer details, such as the various systems to incorporate like air conditioning, electrical systems and plumbing. Working closely with other professionals, including engineers, interior designers and landscape planners, the architect builds a first concept into a more refined and articulated architectural idea. At this stage, the client should no longer have to imagine how their project will look. With the help of 3D visualisation tools, an architect will be able to bring it to life on a screen.

Construction Documents

The project cannot begin without full construction details. An architect will prepare all construction documentation which will serve as the assembly instructions for contractors. When initial versions of the construction documents are ready, they are distributed to potential contractors who provide an estimated construction cost.

Construction Administration

The last stage that an architect will oversee is the actual construction project. Their involvement can differ at this stage, influenced by client preferences or building regulations in the area. While some architects may provide a consulting service, others may directly manage the subcontractors on behalf of the client. Most projects at this stage will require an architect to supply new materials or adapt the existing construction documents as unforeseen challenges arise during completion.


Should I work with an architect on my next project?

Not all building projects require an architect. However, an architect produces a design based on your requirements and desires. Not only that, but they also provide invaluable guidance on all the aspects of your project, from design and cost to planning and construction. Even for smaller projects, a one-off consultation can ensure that you are confident in your design plans, budget and the time it will take to construct your vision.

For complex remodelling, projects with a budget of £30,000 or more, or a build that requires planning permission, you need an architect who can provide you with a full-service offering across all key stages.


Contact our experienced team at D2 Architects for the knowledge and support you need to make your design vision a reality.