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Professionalism in Architecture

An independent research report | March 2024

Architects play a crucial role in creating a built environment that is safe, sustainable and where everyone in society can live well.

As the regulator of architects in the UK, ARB sets the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of anyone who is registered as an architect. It’s important that we have understand the expectations that the public have of professional behaviour and conduct for architects.

We commissioned independent research from the agency Thinks Insight & Strategy to investigate:

  • the perceptions that members of the public and small-scale clients have of architects, and the qualities and standards they expect of them;
  • what it means to be a professional in architecture; and
  • the public’s views of the standards expected of architects in relation to safety, sustainability, ethics and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

The findings from that research have been published in full here.

Key findings

The research found that: 

  • The public value high professional standards and believe this matters across professions. People believe architects have high standards because of extensive training requirements, and a perceived absence of bad news about the profession. 
  • Having the right values – namely integrity, commitment and empathy – is crucial for professionalism according to the public. So is having the right abilities, which is seen to be especially important in a sector requiring strong creative and scientific skills.  
  • When asked about technical skills deemed important in the profession, safety was the most important factor to the public.  
  • It matters to the public that architects are highly qualified with proven technical knowledge, that they have insurance in place in case things go wrong, and that a Code of Conduct sets out how they must behave. 


of the public agree that architects have a responsibility to make sure buildings are designed safely e.g. with fire safety materials.


of the public think that architects should have guidelines in place to make buildings as safe as possible.


of the public think it is important for architects to show integrity and honesty, including with contracts, disputes and client money.

Why is this research important?

We want to understand the expectations of small-scale clients, such as individual homeowners who have commissioned the services of an architect, as roughly half the architects’ profession works on smaller residential projects. We also want insight into the general public’s view of what professionalism means amongst architects, as end users of designed spaces such as hospitals, education buildings, and other public facilities.

The research focused on expectations. The research did not investigate concerns nor seek to determine whether architects meet expectations.

The research is being used in further conversations with architects and other relevant stakeholders, such as contractors and larger clients, and will help us to review the Code of Conduct and Practice for architects.

Why is ARB reviewing the Code of Conduct and Practice?

Section 13 of the Architects Act 1997 requires the Architects Registration Board to issue a Code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of persons registered as architects under the Act. Architects are expected to be guided in their professional conduct by the “spirit of the Code” as well as adhere to any express terms.

The most recent edition of the Code was published in 2017, and we are now seeking to revise and update it so that it continues to be fit for purpose and so that it responds to specific challenges faced by architects today. We want the new Code to reflect the expectations that members of the public have of architects, and for it to focus on positive professional practice.