Regulator takes ‘pragmatic view’ of breaches of the law

The Arb has been forced to confirm that it will not take action against the band Architects for misuse of title.

The metalcore band from Brighton has been reported to the Architects’ Registration Board in a cheeky email from a member of the profession.

Ray Bryant, a retired architect, pointed out that none of the members of the band, founded in 2004, was on the Arb register.

Bryant said the group, whose albums include Ruin, had been using the title for 12 years. “So I guess it must be all right,” he wrote. “Is it permitted to call yourself an architect if you are clearly working in another profession? Or is the plural not covered by the act?”

It is illegal to practise as an architect if you are not on the register, but things become less clear if the word is used by someone who is not offering their services as a designer of buildings – such as the emerging disciple of “IT architect”.

The Arb’s professional standards manager Simon Howard said people frequently reported lighthearted examples of misuse of title.

“We had complaints about L’Oreal because they said they were architects of eyelashes,” he said. “And we had complaints about Leighton Baines, the Everton leftback, because he was described as the architect of Everton’s success.

“But we also get a lot of architects getting vexed about IT architects and that is a little more serious.”

Anyone who is not an architect can call themselves ‘architect’ as long as they’re not acting as an architect, and in that case you can’t call yourself ‘architect’ unless you are an architect

Ray Bryant

The Arb’s professional standards administrator Sarah Loukes wrote back to Bryant saying the regulator took very seriously its statutory responsibility.

It would prosecute unregistered people presenting themselves as architects in the context of the construction industry, she said.

“The Arb accepts, however, that the word ‘architect’ is being increasingly used in other contexts in the UK and indeed the rest of Europe and the US,” she wrote. “You have indeed evidenced a good example.

“Such use may be a technical breach of the [1997 Architects] Act; however the reason for and intention of continued regulation of the title is principally to ensure that consumers of architects’ services are guaranteed a certain standard and quality of work. 

“It was never the intention of the Act to regulate the title for its own sake. The Arb, therefore, takes a pragmatic view and accepts that the use of the word causes no concern when used in a context which is clearly not related to the design and construction of buildings.”

Bryant, who is allowed to call himself an architect because he has retired from practice, said: “It’s just interesting to know that anyone who is not an architect can call themselves ‘architect’ as long as they’re not acting as an architect, and in that case you can’t call yourself ‘architect’ unless you are an architect. Arb really needs another word!”

The Arb sparked uproar among the readers of BD in 2012 when it asked us to stop calling Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind architects because they were not on the Arb register.

The then registrar Alison Carr later apologised and admitted the case caused “potential reputational damage” to Arb and did nothing to further its aims. It then changed its procedures.