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ARB publishes new safety and sustainability guidance for institutions

August 3, 2021 | News Release

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has today (Tuesday 3 August 2021) published new guidance for schools of architecture on Fire and life safety design and Environmental sustainability.

To maintain public confidence in the profession, architects admitted to the register must have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and behaviour to practise. As the independent regulator, ARB sets the criteria that institutions teaching architecture must meet in order for their students to qualify and register as architects.

Between February and April 2021, ARB conducted a public consultation on new guidance to supplement those criteria. The guidance, which will apply to all institutions offering ARB-recognised qualifications, aims to ensure that future architects are competent to design safe and sustainable buildings.

Institutions responding to the consultation generally welcomed the guidance, though understandably some highlighted the time it would take them to make the changes necessary to comply with it. ARB appreciates what a challenge this is. From September 2021 onwards, when ARB monitors a school as part of its annual process, or considers an application for a qualification to be recognised, ARB will ask to see a plan as to how the school has implemented or will implement the guidance in their curriculum. ARB expects schools to commit to meeting its requirements in full within a reasonable time, and will require them to demonstrate their progress.

Alan Kershaw, Chair of the Architects Registration Board, said:
“Fire and life safety design and environmental sustainability are crucial topics that absolutely must form part of an architect’s education and training. We will work with institutions and give them time to put in place the necessary resources and quality assurance. But we will insist that students are taught these important topics in sufficient detail. Protection of the public and of the planet demands no less.”

ARB received 48 responses to its consultation, 15 of which were responses on behalf of organisations including schools of architecture and climate action groups. The majority (69%) of respondents agreed that ARB should begin incorporating the guidance into its prescription process from September 2021. ARB proposed to check progress of implementation through its annual monitoring process, and again the majority (85%) of respondents agreed.

Following the consultation, the Board updated the guidance and it is now being published and formally introduced. A consultation report, published alongside the guidance, summarises the responses ARB received and how ARB made changes following feedback received in the consultation. For example, in the Fire and life safety guidance ARB has strengthened the importance of collaboration as part of the architect’s role in the design team.

Later this year, ARB will launch a major public exercise to review the initial education and training of architects, and the way that ARB recognises the qualifications that enable architects to join the UK register. Some of the feedback ARB received through its consultation on the guidance published today, such as the emphasis on the importance of sustainability throughout education and training, will inform that wider review.

People can stay involved in the initial education and training review by joining ARB’s architects’ engagement group.

—ENDS—
Notes for Editors

  • The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.
  • Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
    –Maintain the Architects Register, a tool anyone can use to confirm whether someone is a UK architect
    –Set the education and training requirements for architects, by recognising the qualifications necessary for joining the Register
    –Ensure only appropriately qualified applicants from the UK and overseas join the Register
    –Set and enforce the professional standards expected of UK architects
    –Take action against those who call themselves an architect illegally.
  • ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
  • In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review ‘Building a Safer Future’ recommended that ARB should address fire safety in design as part of the competence levels required of architects.
  • In ARB’s survey of architects, undertaken in autumn 2020, architects reported that safety and sustainability were the two most common issues that had become more important to their job in the last five years. That survey is published online here.
  • ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.

For further information please contact media@arb.org.uk or 020 7580 5861.

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