University of Newcastle architecture program accredited for further 5 years

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UoN studio

The University of Newcastle’s Masters of Architecture program has been granted accreditation for a further 5 years to September 2022. The fresh accreditation was the unanimous recommendation of an eight-person National Visiting Panel that occurred over 3 days in late September 2017. The panel’s recommendation was formally accepted by the NSW Architects Registration Board on 18 October 2017.

The accreditation assessed the program against 37 performance criteria in the National Standard of Competency for Architects, recording four action items to be addressed in subsequent reviews.

Successful accreditation of the program follows media reports in August of the University of Newcastle’s proposal for a radical restructure of its School of Architecture and Built Environment.

The Panel was impressed by the School’s “articulation of its course within the highly competitive array of Architectural Programs being offered across the State, and the strategic thematic areas for research enquiry around Infrastructure Delivery and Construction Business, Building Resilience, Design Practice Based research and Design Thinking.”

The panel also encouraged the University to “utilise the extraordinary opportunity afforded by access to some of the nation’s leading architecture, landscape and urban design and engineering talent to ensure that the curation of the campus built environment is a benchmark of best practice placemaking and facilities for the region.”

“We appreciate the rigour and diligence of the panel. This process has helped us not only self-reflect on our program, but our ambitious future directions” said Head of School, Professor SueAnne Ware.

The Accreditation Procedure

The Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand (ANZAPAP) is the process by which architecture programs in Australia and New Zealand are assessed, leading to an accreditation decision by the relevant Architect Registration Board. The Procedure is administered by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) on behalf of the State and Territory Architect Registration Boards who are responsible for the regulation of architects via the State and Territory Architects Acts.

The Accreditation Procedure provides a robust system of evaluation of architecture programs at the Master of Architecture Level benchmarked against 37 performance criteria in the National Standard of Competency in Australia so that Architect Registration Boards in all states and territories have advice upon which to base their statutory decisions about the accreditation of programs in their jurisdiction.

A review of the Procedure took place in 2016-2017, with a final draft currently open for comment by 3 November 2017 by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Boom sends costs through the roof

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At an event explaining changes to the Architects Regulation held at the NSW Chapter last week, an audience question probed an architect’s duty to provide cost advice to their clients. It echoed a recent complaint heard by the Board. Most in the room agreed that architects are generalists and not experts, and so could never be expected to have current market pricing at call. 

So what should a homeowner expect of an architect? Is it enough for an architect to outsource responsibility for cost advice to a quantity surveyor or builder? If this is the only means of providing a client with such critical advice, why don’t we see more practices offering combined services of architecture and quantity surveying? Does it forecast a rise in the architect-builder business model, where the architect has access to real-time cost advice from the trades that price projects? And why the focus on costs anyway? 

Evidence shows construction costs continue to climb in Sydney. Quantity Surveyors tell us construction costs are up 20% in the last 12 months alone. The NSW Architects Registration Board has recorded a rise in calls and complaints against architects related to project cost over-runs. The calls run something like:

We’ve paid $20,000 in fees and can’t use what we have. We expected the architect to have some idea of cost. We were OK when the estimate moved from $500,000 to $800,000. But $1.4m is just beyond us. 

Choice Australia carried a similar message in August. But Choice didn’t really explore the external drivers and influences on costs. It’s true that most architects aren’t the ones pricing the job. Margins, overheads, fees and permits, labour and materials are all decisions made by builders and their trades. But faced with big outlays and little chance of breaking ground, a homeowner may feel they have little choice but to lodge a complaint; if only to register outrage and to open negotiations with the architect. The Board has encouraged mediation on some of the complaints lodged by homeowners, with some success.

But is it really all down to uncaring or incompetent architects? Lurking beneath the froth of an excited property sector trumpeting year-on-year growth is a serious downside for many homeowners. Last year, the Board published a circular on rising construction costs. We tracked the fall in training for the trades that are critical to keeping up with the demand, and we stated the obvious; every square metre costs - so use clever design to make the most of each precious square metre.

A year on, the news is no better. Rider Levett Bucknall’s Crane Index tells us there are now more than 330 cranes in the sky in Sydney alone (around half of all cranes in Australia). It’s an imperfect measure, but does point to a building boom that is not cooling yet. Only the very largest home projects need a crane, so RLB’s Index is really a measure of commercial buildings and large apartment buildings. It doesn’t capture the activity in bathroom renos, back yard extensions or the extra bedroom needed by the family who decide to stay and renovate rather than risk the buy-and-move that might leave them locked out.

There’s another sting for home renovators too. The rise in larger apartment buildings is giving tradies more reliable work - keeping them occupied on one site for months, with regular billing to a large builder or developer. We’re hearing a carpenter can earn $150,000/year, and even unskilled labourers can command $60 per hour. Compare this to invoicing 30 separate homeowners from the front seat of the ute or Hi-Ace. It may explain why margins on single homes and renovations appear to be escalating.

So what should an architect know? We went to the National Standard of Competency for Architects, industry Practice Notes and the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct. We found them all remarkably consistent.

The National Standard of Competency for Architects says an architect should be skilled in:

Design: pre design

2.3 Evaluation of factors influencing and impacting on project cost.

2.4 Analysis of project brief in relation to clients objective budget and timeframe.

2.5 Attainment of approval from client of project budget and timeframe.


Design: schematic Design

4.8 Analysis of schematic design in regard to cost planning and timeframe to comply with client and project requirements.


Documentation: detailed design

5.7 Resolution of project design to address budget and time constraints.


Documentation: documentation

6.7 Establishment of quality assurance systems to ensure consistency and completeness of project documentation in accordance with the requirement for the project brief, project timeframe and project budget


The industry practice notes, published by the Australian Institute of Architects say: 

  • Architects are responsible for estimating in accordance with the standards of reasonably competent architects
  •  It is part of the architect's overall responsibility to design within a stated or developed construction-cost limit that has been given or agreed to by the client. Where maintaining the construction-cost budget is not feasible the architect has a responsibility to notify the client. It is the responsibility of the architect to remain within budget to the degree of accuracy of the figure indicated by the client.
  •  The architect is required to design and deliver a project within the constraints of a budget agreed with the client. The ability to meet this responsibility requires that the architect use their own estimating skills or an external estimating resource.

The NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct says:

Section 6

(3) An architect must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a client is informed of:

(a) the decisions required of the client in respect of the architectural services being provided by the architect, and

(b) the implications of those decisions for the performance of the architectural services (particularly those implications related to timeliness, cost and changes to the architectural services).

(4) An architect must advise a client on the likelihood of achieving the client’s stated objectives having regard to the client’s stated budget and time requirements for the architectural services concerned.


All this suggests architects are expected to keep a grip on movements in project and construction costs throughout the stages of a project. But what seems most relevant to both architects and homeowners looking to build or renovate, is that our current 'boom' cycle means a completely new scale of costs in Sydney. 

The take away message is that architects – and homeowners - might need to re-calibrate their assumptions on costs.

NSW ARB and UTS host Salon to focus on Accreditation

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In light of the recent review of the Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure, it’s a perfect time to think critically about the role that accreditation plays in the wider profession.

The context for architectural education in Australia is changing. This year the Higher Education Standards Framework comes into effect, there are new Architects Regulations for NSW – an entirely new program for architecture is even on the horizon. In this dynamic environment, it is increasingly important to actively nurture open discussions between the stakeholders of accreditation, and feed that intelligence back to the wider community.

As the authority for accreditation, we aim to be the lead learner on standards through our Salon series – recognising accreditation as the first step towards Registration, and an opportunity to reflect on learning cultures of the profession that can thrive in continuing professional practice.

Our second Salon on Standards, hosted by the University of Technology Sydney, welcomed:

Professor Susan Savage, Director of Learning Futures (QUT), Australian Discipline Scholar for Architecture, Registered Architect and Chairperson of the Board of Architects Queensland

Professor Gerard Reinmuth, Practice Professor (UTS), Registered Architect and Director of TERROIR, and Academic member on the NSW Architects Registration Board.

Kathlyn Loseby, COO Crone Architects, Registered Architect, APE Examiner, Large Practice Forum AIA, and NSW AIA Chapter Councilor.

If you want to get up to speed, check out our latest ARB Primer on Accreditation.

 You can also download our first Primer on Standards here, and a summary of the National Standard of Competencies for Architects here which forms the basis of accreditation.

For more info, email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2017 Architects Regulation now live

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New Architects Reg

Over recent months, the Board has been working with the Department of Finances, Services and Innovation to remake the Architects Regulation. This Regulation sits under, and supports, the Architects Act. Contained within the Regulation are clauses that define architectural qualifications, course accreditation, and how Board members may be selected or elected. 

But the most common day-to-day use of the Regulation is via the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct. The Code is given legal effect by being a part of the Regulation. And - from 1 September 2017 - that Code has changed.

Check out the scope of the changes with this Architects Regulation - comparison table and make sure you're up to date.


And book now if you want to be part of the industry briefing, 6pm 20 September 2017


Building the debate: A recap on the first ARB OPEN Salon on Standards

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 The NSW Architects Registration Board recognises that the National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA) is fundamental to a number of our statutory functions: it extends to the accreditation of architectural programs, all pathways to registration, and the ongoing learning of architects.

We know it’s an important and influential document, but also understand there is confusion out there about what the Standard is; what it isn’t; and how it actually plays out in education, practice and regulation. This is why we’ve launched the Salon on Standards, creating a space for reflection, criticism and expert insight on the standards that affect architects in Australia.

 As we prepare the full Podcast of our first Salon that focused on the NSCA, we wanted to share some highlights from the discussion between Professor Kirsten Orr, Dr. Peter Raisbeck and Melonie Bayl-Smith that was hosted by the UTS School of Architecture.


The National Standard of Competency for Architects

Professor Kirsten Orr – who has forensically researched the Standard – put forward a concise description of the Standard’s purpose: to establish the standard of architectural education and professional competency prior to registration as an architect in Australia. Does it have anything to do with the status of an architect? Does it forecast changes in the profession? She doesn’t think it does, or can. This challenges our experience of the Standard though, because the core competencies also set up the continuing professional development of architects. The Standard seems to be different things to different stakeholders.

With that being said, do they work? At their most practical, Dr. Peter Raisbeck thinks they do. People study them at university, graduate, usually do a practice-focused course, they’ll go to the registration exam and they pass. But he also questions if they work for the broader profession. Do we actually have those standards to be more strategic, to be better managers, to be better leaders, to be better advocates?

Rather than fulfilling these complex aspirations of educators, the profession, or regulators, Orr reflects that in her view the NSCA has changed from being an encyclopedic repository for every skillset that the profession sought to lay claim to in the 1990s, to its current format as a streamlined document. In fact, Orr warns against over-endowing the NSCA with too much significance or aspiration – “the Standards assume whatever significance we choose to bestow on them, and you have to be really careful what you wish for.”

What does she mean by that? Orr and Raisbeck both agree there are palpable risks to educators who might over-emphasise the Standard in their teaching. If a subject could cover eighteen of the thirty-seven Performance Criteria required for Accreditation, do we need all of the other courses? What if your subject offers none? For educators, it’s important to recognise relevant competencies that apply to subjects – you’d be foolish not to, Orr points out – but acknowledges that it is just one hurdle, among many others, that educators must navigate.

As someone working as a teacher, running a practice, and examining aspiring architects, Melonie Bayl-Smith speaks to this bigger picture, “As a Registration examiner for all the pathways … I am not someone who sees the Standards as a limitation. I think a lot of people who denigrate and try to tear down the value of the registration processes in our profession seem to see the standards as a limiting tool.” As a teacher in particular – but also in her capacity as an examiner, Bayl-Smith points out that she is trying to imbue her students with a capacity to transfer knowledge, that their learning should be an integrated whole.

This integration extends to practice – where the Standard of Competency plays out in the everyday for Bayl-Smith. She self-consciously asks “Am I doing 9.1?” (Knowledge and implementation of appropriate practice model to ensure efficient, effective and ethical professional service) “I am trying to do 9.1 every day, and I’m challenged by how we imbue even a skerrick of the aspiration … I look at some of these things and go, they can be aspirational, I can look at that and go: ‘that is my challenge this week: how do I run an efficient and effective practice.’” Bayl-Smith’s self-appraisal of the Standard ‘in practice’ might sit uncomfortably, but it does reveal latent opportunities for the profession to claim in the Standard – if we are willing to engage with it. Without changing the framework or the syntax of the document Bayl-Smith thinks it has got the capacity to operate beyond a mere threshold – it can provoke, it can help people recalibrate or reconsider where they stand as a practitioner.

What if we needed to recalibrate or reconsider the Standard itself? Raisbeck’s experiences in the front line of teaching professional practice has revealed some cracks. “There are things that I think architects should teach and learn in the university that we don’t do.” He lists research methods, managerial and organizational sciences, leadership – and money – “After all, cash is king.” Not surprisingly, everyone we speak to has their own take on what the Standard for architects should or shouldn’t be, so we came to the same conclusion as Raisbeck: this is a debate we’d like to see us have as a profession.

NSCA Peter Raisbeck

It’s clear the Standard is not everything to everyone. Nor should it be. But as it responds to developments in the profession and becomes more streamlined, we are seeing the Standard play out across all areas of the profession. Educators consult it in their subject design; regulators deploy it to accredit programs, examine architects, and monitor ongoing professional development; and architects might even start using it as a form of reflection in practice. We know there are limits to the Standard, but we see value in debating what they are, and learning from it.

We’d like to thank the UTS School of Architecture for being the generous hosts of our first Salon, and to thank our panel members, Professor Kirsten Orr, Dr Peter Raisbeck, and Melonie Bayl-Smith for sharing their insights, challenges and aspirations for the National Standard of Competency for Architects.

We will be publishing a Podcast of the full discussion in the coming weeks. If you would like to join the conversation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow us at @ArchInsights 

Download: A Primer on Standards and take a look at our handy summary of the National Standard of Competency for Architects

Modernism on show highlights new paths to architecture

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A new exhibition on European architects in post war Australia explores the contribution made by immigrants who were welcomed to a foreign land with new rules. “The Moderns: European Designers In Sydney” opened at the Museum of Sydney in July and will run until November 2017 thanks to Sydney Living Museums.

At the centre of the exhibition is the work of renowned architects like Hugh Buhrich, and his wife, designer Eva Buhrich; Gabor Lukacs and Hans Peter Oser. All of those featured arrived in Sydney in the years following World War II and were ‘naturalized’. Many assumed their European qualifications were sufficient to be registered as architects in Australia. 

But original documents shared by the NSW Architects Registration Board for the exhibition show that some new immigrants and their home universities were surprised to learn that where their degrees were not recognised by Australian authorities, they were required to sit an exam testing seven areas including:

  1. Design
  2. Constructional design
  3. Building services and equipment
  4. Drainage and sanitation
  5. Town planning
  6. History of architecture
  7. Professional practice

Many were successful and went on to lengthy architectural careers. Some, like Hungarian émigré Stephen Gergely was registered in 1961 and is still practising today. Lukacs and Oser were registered before the war ended in 1945.

But not surprisingly, much has changed since the 50’s.

Take Cesar Taboada who arrived in Australia with architectural qualifications gained in Peru. After being told his overseas degree was not equivalent to an Australian qualification, Cesar gained local experience with architectural firms prior undertaking a pathway designed for his particular circumstances. Cesar registered last year via a pathway designed for someone without an approved qualification in architecture. In NSW, this pathway is called the Built Work Program of Assessment. There's lots of stories like Cesar's.

“The really good news for anyone recognised as an architect in their home country is that it’s now even easier to have international qualifications and experience recognised here. So too for those who have gained the competencies of an architect through experience”, said Mae Cruz, Registration and Education Lead with the NSW Architects Registration Board. 

“The path to registration is unrecognisable from just 2 years ago”, said Cruz. “Because we have a National Standard of Competency for architects, it means we have an objective threshold test that asks ‘do you have the competencies set by the Standard’? Where once it was assumed you had studied, worked and trained here, the reality in a global marketplace is very different. And where there was once only one path, there are now half a dozen tailored to every circumstance.”

To find out more on the many pathways to register as an architect in NSW, follow the links at

NSW ARB and UTS launch Salon series on Standards

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We are excited to launch a series of Salon events and podcasts that will explore the role and value of quality standards in architecture; the impacts of regulation on learning cultures; and most ambitiously, the future of architectural regulation in this country.

This discussion implicates architectural practitioners, educators, institutions and regulators, and we are excited that a space for these discussions has been created by Prof Martin Bryant, the Head of the UTS School of Architecture, who has agreed to host the Series.

In our first two Salon sessions, we will build a conversation around two of the profession’s most significant documents that regulate the practice and education of architects: The National Standard of Competency for Architects, and the Australian and New Zealand Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure. These discussions set the stage for an informed, incisive and ambitious third Salon that will tackle the future direction of regulation, currently planned for October 2017.

We aim to be a leading resource on documenting shifts in education and practice, and sharing that knowledge as widely as possible. The first Salon and podcast will focus on the National Competency Standard for Architects because we know it impacts all aspects of the profession. The primer below offers a contemporary snapshot of the Standard, and raises questions about its future.

If you would like to join the conversation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow us at @ArchInsights 

Download: A Primer on Standards and take a look at our handy summary of the National Standard of Competency for Architects

Sydney architecture and design shine in global shortlist

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Sydney World Design Capital 2020 brings global focus to Australian architecture and design 

13 July 2017

The Montreal-based World Design Organzation has announced Sydney is one of two metropolitan cities shortlisted to be declared the World Design Capital in 2020, in a bid that promises to deliver a more inclusive and resilient city. 

More than 40 organizations representing design, business and institutions have been quietly working to develop the bid that was first lodged on 31 March 2017, but was only publicly revealed at the Good Design Awards in Sydney on 8 June 2017.

The City of Parramatta will act as the Host City in a move that cements Western Sydney’s role in shaping the future of a greater metropolitan region. The bid document states that Greater Sydney is Australia’s largest capital city “fused with a global community of cities, yet isolated and remote; poised on the coastal fringe of the Australian land mass - boasting some of the world’s most ancient and pristine ecosystems within hours of the greatest concentration of new cities on the planet”.

The bid is centred on the three themes of climate, culture and the city - showcasing the exceptional work of architects, industrial, graphic and digital designers, landscape architects and design-based enterprises and institutions from across Sydney and NSW.

The NSW Architects Registration Board is proud to have supported the Sydney World Design Capital bid from the beginning, along with our friends at Good Design Australia, Frost* Collective, Committee for Sydney, and the City of Parramatta.

To read more, download the bid document at 

The World Design Capital program has been awarded to cities including Torino (2008), Seoul (2010), Helsinki (2012), Capetown (2014), Taipei (2016) and Mexico City (2018). If Sydney is successful, it would be the first time an Australian city has been designated World Design Capital.

More than 500 architects removed from NSW Register

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More than 500 architects were removed from the Register in NSW on 1 July, meaning some may be starting the new financial year trading in breach of the Architects Act.

Much like lawyers, architects must renew their licence to practice each year. While the cost of registration varies across each State and Territory, NSW charges the lowest registration fee of any mainland State at just $250.00 in the practising category. At registration, practising architects are required to evidence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) undertaken in the prior year, and Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) cover held by the architect.

This year, the process was streamlined with a fully digital portal that allowed architects to upload CPD and PII records, as well as tailor their entry in the Register with weblinks and contact information suited to prospective clients who may be looking to work with an architect.

Given the change in registration procedures in 2017, the Board contacted all architects registered in NSW in March, and again in May ahead of three reminders that were sent in June. The Architects Act requires the Board to remove any architect from the Register if they fail to pay the approved fee for annual registration by the due date.

Architects wishing to restore their name to the Register must apply, and pay a restoration fee of $150.


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The annual registration renewal has closed. If you wish to renew your registration as an architect in NSW, please download this form and post or email the completed form to the NSW Architects Registration Board.

Note to all architects (Practising and Non-Practising) renewing registration: 

Re-registrations period was between 1-30 June 2017

In past years, we've opened re-registrations in April for a full 3 months until 30 June.

We think this long period of time has been counter productive – allowing so long that no action was needed. As a result, many architects miss the 30 June deadline and end up with a $150 additional charge to be restored. We want to make it easier to get it right. So this year, we're opening re-registrations on 1 June, and closing at midnight on 30 June.


From 1 June, we will make it easy for every practising architect to attach a CPD Activity Record. And if you carry your own Professional Indemnity Insurance policy, we're asking you to upload this too. These records remain confidential and secure.  PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM PRIOR TO YOUR RENEWAL.

Read for information and guidance:  INFORMATION SHEET - Continuing Professional Development.pdf

Architects who did renew during June can login to updated their registered address.