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    Sydney architect petitioning to increase prosecution of 'fake' architects

    Nathan Johnson

    Sydney architect Robert Harwood is apparently fed up with being compared on price point and capability to building practitioners who aren’t registered architects.

    The director of Harwood Architects and founder of My Architect is petitioning the Australian Institute of Architects CEO Jennifer Cunich to do more to protect the architecture profession from non-architects passing off their work and capability as that of an architect.

    Harwood is particularly concerned with non-architects using the title ‘architect’ in their name or the words ‘architectural services’ in advertising.

    “Every day, my company receives calls from potential customers comparing us with ‘architectural’ drafting services and interior ‘architects’,” he says.

    “These traders illegally threaten our business and our reputations by passing themselves off as providing 'architectural' services for a lower price.”

    “They are absolutely not providing an architectural service.”

    While the catalyst for Harwood’s petition seems to have come from the recent failure of Archicentre amidst Sydney’s building boom, he does point to other ‘problems’, like high-profile education institutions running courses on how to be an 'interior architect' or ‘building designer- architectural’, as well “non-existent” action from the state-based Registration Boards (the administers of the Architects Act), as contributing to the alleged problem.

    But while Harwood is correct in suggesting that some institutions offer courses unaccredited by the Institute which use the term ‘architectural’ in their title or description, Registrar of the NSW Architects Registration Board Tim Horton would disagree with the premise that the State Registrars aren’t making efforts to enforce the Architects Act 2003.

    “I think the issues raised often find their way in to media – often from architects who either misunderstand the basis of regulation, or who don’t know where to find publicly available data,” he says.

    “In 2014-2015, the Board conducted 139 investigations in to companies illegally using the title, and 10 complaints against architects. So the weight of evidence suggests the Board is doing its work – sometimes quietly, sometimes in the public eye.”

    But Horton does agree that statutory authorities can always do better, and pointed to an event the NSWARB is planning for 3 November which will help the profession better understand how the Board works.

    Horton also pointed to recent efforts from the Board to engage with the architecture community via its Twitter page @ArchInsights which regularly publishes and addresses information on the above concerns. 

    The Board will also launch a new mediation pathway at their November event that should help homeowners and their architects resolve issues without need of a complaint.

    Robert Harwood is seeking 100 signatures for his online petition which can be viewed here.

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