Architects are professional people who design, plan and decorate buildings, with a view to utility, durability, convenience, and aesthetic appeal. They use their knowledge of construction materials and methods, and architectural techniques to design and oversee the construction of safe, functional and attractive buildings. 

They discuss the purpose, requirements and cost with the client and then prepare drawings. If these are accepted, the final design is prepared together with working plans for the use of contractors. The architect may assist the client in selecting a contractor. They may also help in the selection of building sites, preparation of costs, the carrying out of land-use studies and long-range site development planning.

Architects stay involved throughout the construction process, adapting their plans according to budget constraints, environmental factors or client needs. As such, they operate as part of an overall project team; they work closely with a range of construction professionals from quantity surveyors to building services engineers.  Architectural technologists also carry out this supervisory work.

Many architects today are limited by costs to designing rather more mundane buildings, although they do occasionally get the opportunity to branch out into more adventurous fields such as opera houses, skyscrapers, hospitals, railway stations, supermarkets, airports and so forth. Their everyday work is usually the designing of dwellings for their clients and renovations or improvements to existing domestic and commercial buildings.

They usually need to design buildings that are durable, functional, suit the needs of the owners, are as pleasing to the eye as possible, given financial constraints, and that fit in with the surrounding terrain as much as possible.

To summarise, typical work activities include:

  • creating building designs and highly detailed drawings both by hand and by using specialist computer-aided design (CAD) applications

  • liaising with construction professionals about the feasibility of potential projects

  • working around constraining factors such as town planning legislation, environmental impact and project budget

  • working closely with a team of other professionals such as building service engineers, construction managers, quantity surveyors and architectural technologists

  • applying for planning permission and advice from governmental new build and legal departments

  • writing and presenting reports, proposals, applications and contracts

  • choosing the materials to be used and specifying the requirements for the project

  • adapting plans according to circumstances and resolving any problems that may arise during construction

  • making sure the project is running according to schedule and budget

  • playing a part in project and team management

  • travelling regularly to building sites, proposed locations and client meetings

For the most part an architect’s working day will be office based. However, site visits and meetings with clients are frequent, so travel can figure prominently

A solid knowledge of how to use a computer is steadily becoming essential as many of the tools of this profession are now computer-aided. Environmental knowledge is often essential when creating new housing developments or industrial projects.


  • architectural companies

  • real estate firms

  • building contractors and construction companies

  • government departments

  • such organisations as: Eskom, CSIR

  • universities and universities of technology

  • provincial services

  • self-employment, architects are often able set up their own practices

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