What does an architect DO?

Building Plans Renovations House Extension Ballarat

So, what exactly does an architect do? Contrary to popular belief, architects do a lot more than just ‘draw plans’. We specialise in design and in getting to know you and listening to your requirements, so we can provide a high quality service to help you navigate the complex building process, and create a solution specifically for you. We are here to help guide you through your designing/planning/building journey, so you can live in a beautiful home that won’t cost the earth!

After working closely with you to establish your brief (and asking lots of questions about your lifestyle) and assessing opportunities and constraints of the site, architectural design is the collaborative process of creating a site-specific,  individual solution which best meets your particular requirements and vision. Design is a juggling act of budget, construction techniques, material selections, building regulations, town-planning requirements, secondary consultants’ input, energy-efficiency considerations and sustainability, heritage and cultural context, consideration of neighbours and community relations, form and function, shelter and comfort, practicality, convenience, flexibility, connection with the external environment and landscape, light and shade, services, safety, beauty and delight… plus more!

“A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist, and evolutionary strategist.”  R. Buckminster Fuller

The true value of Architects is that we are problem-solvers; by nature, training and experience. We excel at looking at your project holistically and seeing the big picture and incorporating all the elements of the puzzle, and then communicate how to piece them altogether. Essentially, we provide creative solutions to address complex issues.  However, personally I don’t profess to have all the answers and to tell my clients what they need, rather my value lies in my ability to listen to each client, and find out what they want to achieve and how we can do that together – it is a collaborative process. Architects can never “know it all” (and if they claim they do, be wary!) as we are on a never-ending learning journey, which I love!. In addition to CPD (Continuing Professional Development), Architects also need to keep up to date across a broad and changing field – with the latest construction technologies, sustainable innovations, changes to planning schemes, revised construction codes, best practices, interior design trends, the latest eco products and “green” materials, etc…

Architects are the most qualified professionals in the building industry.  Legally in Australia, the word “Architect” is protected to ensure it is ONLY used by those professionals who meet the following criteria (This will give you peace of mind that you are engaging the services of a qualified professional):

  • completed requisite Architectural Degrees at University (5 years full-time study or more)
  • undertaken extensive on-the-job experience
  • passed stringent exams by the Registration board (the ARBV here in Victoria)
  • paid annual Registration fees, and
  • have ample Professional Indemnity Insurance and Public Liability Insurance Cover.

However, our role can’t be simplified down to just ‘designing buildings’ either. We have to wear many hats to provide out services – including researcher, analyser, reporter, designer, artist, planner, illustrator, drafter, graphic-designer, model-maker, documenter, specifier, advocate, negotiator, agent, assessor, valuer, certifier, counsellor, communicator, liaison-officer, instructor, teacher, administrator, manager and more! In addition to the architect-client relationship, there is a much larger team involved to get a project completed, with various consultants to communicate with, authorities to liaise with, suppliers and manufacturers to chat with, and of course contractors to build with. So I guess instead of being thought of as ‘composers’, Architects are more like conductors, leading the whole symphony orchestra to ensure each element plays its part to contribute to your masterpiece.

 If you invest in services from a qualified and registered Architect at the start of your project, then you can save money by avoiding costly mistakes later. Master Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said “You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledge-hammer on the construction site”! So in this case, failing to plan is planning to fail. This is especially the case with sustainable design considerations, in terms of passive solar principles (including correct orientation on the site, shading, thermal-mass, insulation, ventilation,draft-proofing, type and extent of glazing, material selection, etc), which will all help make your home more energy-efficient, thereby lowering your running costs. It is so much more affordable to get this basic design right at the very start – rather than try to retrofit or re-design or re-build later!

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design” – Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO Jaguar

What did you think Architects do? Did you learn anything new? Do you have questions about our role? Would love to hear in the comments below!

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our monthly news!



  1. Susan Nethercote on March 4, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    You are a conductor of a building orchestra! Great analogy, now I really understand what you do! xx

  2. talinaedwards on March 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks Suse – I was trying to make a poetic analogy that would hopefully resonate with my readers!

  3. talinaedwards on March 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Great article discussing this very topic over at EntreArchitect too: http://www.entrearchitect.com/2015/03/02/what-do-architects-do

  4. mcas88 on March 5, 2015 at 5:17 am

    I am an architect in the USA. I grow vegetables. The seed, roots, leaves, flowers, fruit, pollen and companion planting author an outgrowth of biomimetic information for human study. Water is a key factor in life, hence design and construction. A paradigm shift is upon us.

    • talinaedwards on March 5, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for your comment – I love a nature metaphor. I use the a seed/seedling/sapling/tree metaphor when describing the architectural/building process :o) It is in my brochure, but this is a good reminder I should also add to my website.

  5. Cass Jackson-Lee on March 5, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Well written Talina. A great read that explains what you do as an architect really well. Happy conducting! :)

    • talinaedwards on March 5, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Thanks so much Cass – for reading and commenting too :o)

  6. www.aldonakmiec.com on March 6, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Great insight Talina!! Problem solving by looking at big picture of an individual site-specific project – that so true! Learnt heaps so thank you x

  7. talinaedwards on March 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks Aldona! Glad you learnt something new :o)

  8. Nosaj on March 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    This was an incredibly helpful insight, thankyou. I am hoping to use an architect in the not too distant future but I feel like it’s a big outlay in our tight budget. From what you have written it would seem that the money spent will pay dividends in the end, not only financially but by taking on a lot of the stress related to engaging with council, tradies, and of course neighbours.

  9. […] daily tasks/considerations that we tackle on the job. (I’ve written about this before. See What Does An Architect Do? […]