Sunday, February 2, 2014


In Queensland, the Board of Architects of Queensland controls the registration of architects. It prescribes various requirements for registration and for the maintenance of registration if one wishes to be able to call oneself an ‘architect’ in this State. Cross the border and a new body is managing architects in that State. There are a total of eight states in Australia - a couple of these regions are labelled ‘territories’ but they are much the same; and one state will not recognise the other’s assessments or registrations. The principle is, in spite of all of this fragmentation, that an architect has to have statutory authority to announce this professional role in our society. One wonders how the public perceives the fact that States are unable to respect one another’s registrations. Does this leave architects in a general limbo that lacks any respect and trust? The seeds of doubt certainly appear to have been sewn by this strange, parochial situation.

The Commonwealth Government manages matters like Statutory Declarations. This is a process that allows one to make written statements as though under oath. If one makes a false statement in a Statutory Declaration, one could be jailed and or fined, such is the significance and legal standing of these declarations.

In order to make a Statutory Declaration, one has to complete a standard form and have it witnessed by a prescribed person. The list of such persons before whom a Statutory Declaration may be made under the Statutory Declaration Act 1959 is attached to the standard form. It is extensive, and includes professions like: chiropractor; medical practitioner; patent attorney; psychologist; dentist; nurse; pharmacist; trade marks attorney; legal practitioner; optometrist; psychotherapist; veterinary surgeon: and this is only the first part.


The list extends into two other lengthy parts and includes teachers, engineers, accountants, ministers of religion, policemen, secretaries and many, many others who can also act as a witness. One can go through the lines in detail, but an architect is unable to act as a witness, even though an architect has to be registered in order to participate in this profession. One might have thought that this would have made this profession an adequate witness, but apparently no. A ‘credit union officer with 5 or more years of continuous service’ is preferred. Gosh, the training for an architect usually takes at least six years before one can be registered!

Such appears to be the fate of architects and architecture in our society today. Importance lies elsewhere. Perceptions are strange. In the early days when HIV infections were puzzling the world and science had noticed the relationship with the gay community, it was blandly announced that the virus was likely to infect such folk as the gay community, those in medical world, artists and others, a list that, somewhat alarmingly, did include architects.

Does one surmise that the general perception of architecture is that it is ‘irrelevantly and indulgently arty,’ and that those involved in the arts, like architects, are gay, or just ‘loose’: uninhibited? Such folk might be happy, but it is a shame that our society places such involvements in the world of completely unnecessary extravagances carried out by expensive dilettantes and playboys, irresponsible folk, in spite of the regulations that, at least for architects, are apparently there to ensure otherwise. Indeed, the Boards declare that they exist to protect the public from rogue ‘architects.’

There is another common story that reinforces this understanding that architects just waste one’s money. It has to do with architectural fees: the client was overheard stating that the proposed $10,000 architectural fee would be able to pay for the swimming pool, so the builder was hired to undertake the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars without advice or supervision. The message seems to be: architects are an irrelevant luxury, not responsible enough to act as witnesses.

Such is life. It is a shame because there is so much that could be improved very easily if matters were otherwise; but perceptions are very difficult to modify. Preconceptions always seem to exaggerate to extremes when there is the hint of any uncertainty or when the participation involves subtle and technical work that few understand. The work is allocated to the world of mystery - a vague and sensual, potentially dangerous world: like that of witches who, one notes, are, like architects, excluded from the list of those able to witness a Statutory Declaration. It seems that a politician is preferred! One has to declare before a politician that one is not telling lies? This looks like the pot that has been asked to ensure that the kettle is white. Hmmmm.

For more on Boards and architects see:

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