The purpose of this paper is to contextualise the architect–client relationship and evaluate the factors responsible for its deterioration, and then define the impact of these factors on the future needs of architects and clients, including how such knowledge can help emerging architects to develop an understanding of the profession at an early stage. It will attempt to reveal new insights and build consensus around issues, such as functionality and aesthetics, per cent-based fee structure, conflict of interest amongst architects, contractors and clients.
A combination of qualitative online survey, semi-structured interviews and online focus group discussions under the comprehensive umbrella of the case study method has been used to construct a pragmatic framework. The data collection was focused on revealed preferences rather than stated preferences, in terms of likes and dislikes, in a standard survey.
Overall, this paper strengthens the idea that the predicament of the profession and the marginalisation of architects is due to their detachment from clients. The findings suggest that the fee structure might be a major source of discontent and there is an urgent need for alternative routes of procurement, particularly for private residential clients. While most clients prefer functionality over aesthetics and want architects to be affordable, they are more willing to invest their trust in architects who can deliver from concept to completion.
The arguments contested in this paper attempt to demystify the dynamics that are at play during the construction stage. It looks at power sharing, responsibilities and silent hierarchies that transpire between architects, clients and contractors, particularly in private residential projects.
The main recommendation of this paper is that to secure the future of the architecture profession emerging architects need to be trained more in client-centric skills than design-centric aptitude.
The author wishes to express sincere gratitude to all the study participants for contributing their time to give such comprehensive and meaningful answers. One of the most exciting aspects of this research was the active and open participation of private residential clients. The author is also indebted for the support and mentorship received from peers in academia and practice, who agreed to face-to-face interviews and in-depth discussions, in some cases lasting up to 2 h. Finally, the author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback, contributing to the improvement of this paper.
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