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    The challenges and opportunities for South Australian architects

    Findings from the State of the Profession survey of architectural practices in South Australia reveal the various challenges facing the profession as well as the solutions and opportunities identified by respondents.

    Providing a crucial snapshot of architectural practices in South Australia at the end of 2015, the ACA – SA State of the Profession Survey undertaken by Justine Clark with support from Gill Matthewson received excellent response from the South Australian architectural community. Results from the survey reveal new data about the nature and size of architectural practices as well as structural changes underway within the profession.

    While many of the practices recorded a great number of challenges facing the profession, respondents also saw solutions and opportunities within these challenges.

    Key findings of the ACA – SA State of the Profession Survey:

    Procurement of architectural services remains largely traditional, with 82 per cent of respondents (80 practices) providing full service for an average of 60 per cent of their work. Full service work was concentrated in particular sectors such as education and single residential work.

    Procurement of buildings via traditional tender is still the most popular strategy, with Design & Construct followed by Managing Contractor being the next most popular procurement options. Larger practices are more likely to be involved in Design & Construct and Managing Contractor than sole practitioners and small practices (two to five people).

    Practices describing themselves as multidisciplinary had their work executed by those with architectural training, with only a very small proportion of staff members involved in non-traditional architectural services.

    Most of the South Australian practices are based in South Australia with only a few operating interstate or affiliated with interstate practices.

    There is active collaboration between practices, with smaller practices typically working with other South Australian practices and larger practices tending to work with interstate or overseas practices.

    Unpaid work is quite common among practices, predominantly as speculative work for existing clients or potential new clients. Pro bono work accounts for approximately 35 per cent of unpaid work.

    Residential work is a major component of the work of sole practitioners and small practices, while commercial and institutional work is the predominant source of a larger practice’s work.

    Men dominate employment numbers at all levels of practice with very few women graduates employed by firms. Interior design is the only professional area where women are more than men in head count.

    Traditional work practices dominate the profession, with the majority of people employed fulltime and very low numbers in a part-time capacity or with flexible hours.

    Key challenges facing the profession include fee shrinkage, closely followed by greater risk for architects and competition from other sectors. Low fees not only reduce the opportunity for staff to be well paid but also impact the profession’s ability to attract the ‘best and the brightest’.

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