Dear Architects Part 2

Dear Architects Part 2

Dear Architects,

In your opinion, what can be done to attempt to enforce the scale of fees for architects in Uganda: and not just that of architects, many graduate architects are employed under conditions of poor pay, and many employers do not pay their NSSF fees for them: this is simply encouraging the culture of doing ‘pjs'( where non-certified architects do side jobs for clients and manage to get them approved). Can something be done? Maybe a 5 year plan architects can work on?

Arch Gloria Bazira:

Tie approvals to URA. So that when a project is submitted for approval to a regulatory body,  for instance KCCA,  a particular amount of tax is expected to be levied on  it by the URA, basing on different parameters. That way we can have a basic scale of fees for a particular type of building because architects will be forced to charge within a particular range for said project, knowing well, what tax is levied on such projects. Increase the scale of fees and firms will be able to take in and sustain more employees.

There should also be sensitisation of the public on what kind of professionals to use. Insist that clients use registered architects. That way, the ‘pj’ culture will be reduced and graduate architects will be forced to get employment within the structured system.

Register graduate architects and absorb them into the system. Not only in architectural firms, because as of now, existing firms do not have the capacity to absorb every single graduate architect but there are other sectors that can absorb them. KCCA for instance, National Housing and Construction. We need to find ways to register the architects into these sectors.

 

Dear Architects Part 1

Dear Architects Part 1

 Dear Architects,

Why aren’t there as many Partnership firms in the country as there are Sole practitioner firms?  Other professionals, like lawyers tend to pair-up or triple-up. Is it much harder for our profession? Why so?

Arch Gloria Bazira:

The majority of all small business start out as Sole Proprietorship.

I cannot speak for every architect and cannot tell you why some decide to join Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies or remain Sole Practitioners. I’m not even sure what percentage of architects fall under each category. What I can do, is share my own experience.

I have experience both as a sole proprietor and as an architect in a partnership. The first wasn’t out of choice. I’d hoped to start a partnership; share responsibilities and liabilities, but I didn’t find a compatible partner at the time and was stuck in a situation where I was handling, not only architectural design, but the business of architecture as well. I was my own accountant, doing all the procurement, doing the actual design, following up the staff, doing the supervision; everything was on my shoulders.

I was blessed to get a partner eventually. The aspects we considered were both administrative and business related, like who brought the projects in to how profits would be shared. But my biggest gain was the sharing of administrative responsibilities.

Your choice in a partner should be someone you trust, someone that understands the way you work and who you understand, and can balance out your shortcomings in the business with theirs.

 

But my dream was always to have something that would last beyond me. Something with longevity. I needed to grow, get a partner, increase the staff.

What The Future Holds for Architecture in Uganda

What The Future Holds for Architecture in Uganda

In the bid to create places and spaces for clients to live, share, develop and experience the country and globe as a whole, Architects in Uganda are at a new threshold vis-a-vis global and cultural trends in the country. The global future of practice is volatile, uncertain, chaotic and uncertain too, and will require transformations.

I by no means have the proverbial ‘philosopher’s stone’ about trends and directions, but here are a few observations about disruptions in the built environment economy in Uganda and Africa.

Commodity.

Primarily the duty to present utility for users of spaces and places was a docket of Architects, who had a greater imagination and were most often better exposed via travel and subscriptions to content provided about developments in this industry .This has been democratised through initiatives like creative commons, where all interested parties can now access almost all precedents and opinions through collaborative design among design professionals globally. This free accessibility will negate high premiums previously charged for design services.

Other processes like site analysis, production drawings, building information management systems and Life cycle analysis have been boosted by artificial intelligence and smart machines/programs which have automated these tasks. This removes the linear nature of project handling from inception to construction, to a network map with different tasks handled by several players of different backgrounds. This will also shorten delivery times as clients access different professionals for different stages evidenced by their core abilities. For example the need to have permanent staff doing drawings daily in the drawing office will change to drawing firms who will rise to claim the niche-vacuum created by declining numbers of people training in these fields. This also will help as the technical aspects of building design are suffering greatly by persons ‘practicing’ architecture now after hands-on training in building design programs.

The client briefs will evolve to include parameters like investment potential, carbon footprint, social cohesiveness, build-ability, training opportunities for communities and recyclability on projects. This can only mean diversification into software that tackles these issues or collaboration with existing segment leaders. The drawback is that as more detail is expected, the fees may not increase. This will mean the architect will have to be creative about how they deliver; maybe removing unnecessary overhead costs or investing in intelligent machines and software.

Firmness.

The ability of buildings to ‘stand’ has been redefined to include aspects like inclusion, enhanced building functions drawing deeply from cultural inferences, emotive moods and symbolism nuances. This will disrupt the deliverables from just a complete building to embodied energy of constituent materials, longevity and post-building use adaptability. Clients armed with information are now asking some hard questions about the impact of their completed building on their economic welfare, community engagement, social responsibility and environmental blend.

This removes the firmness docket from just the traditional structural engineer and spreads it to other traditionally existing and new sectors. The building will now be viewed like a machine procured to ease the lives of users and processes occurring therein, this then adopts the regular service approach in motor vehicles where all aspects are treated as necessary to the functioning of the whole.

Architects will be able to lead on this too with revision of building standards and archaic byelaws constituted as the profession was formalised in the 1960s when the assumption was that only trained professionals were knowledgeable in these aspects. The global sharing economy which emphasises access and not ownership has challenged ideas like each household or community treating waste separately. The resultant rise in start-ups solving these kinds of issues like energy, waste and shared shelters evidences this.

Delight.

In the past where clients took a backseat and let the architects lead the design process with only a couple of meetings to receive feedback on ideas and proposals generated by the architects. This has changed and will continue as Architects are expected to be more of Expert citizens, who being trained in various disciplines of building technology will guide the Citizen Experts who are the beneficiaries and custodians of traditions/cultures existing in their communities before the building/space. This will dictate that architects personally have to hone their listening skills and personally develop in leadership, emotional intelligence and mobilisation to be able to ably lead these design teams going to be charged with building places and spaces in the future.

Furthermore, the delicate balance being brewed is the extent of personal and community space. As the country and globe is further digitally connected, people require access to jobs, opportunities, services and landscapes. The impacts of traditional zoning like slums and social vices are evidence enough that status quo must change. Socially driven and inclusive interventions like public spaces will have to be considered OR face high costs of enforcing order amidst disorder.

 

All this change is not being spearheaded as policy by any authority, but rather a real-time democratic process happening irrespective of traditional boundaries by citizens empowered by the increased connectivity and resultant power of choice.

A Word That Carries A Heavy Load: ‘Name’

A Word That Carries A Heavy Load: ‘Name’

Having come across much about names, I began to wonder what exactly a name is.  I thought I knew, but the more I pondered the more confused I became.  Phrases like “in the name of the law” and “name your price” and “name of the book” seemed to spread the meaning beyond the simple notion of labeling. I decided to look up “name” in a desk dictionary and found something like “A word or words by which an entity is designated and distinguished from others.”Next I checked the big Oxford English Dictionary. I found the definition of “name” spanned five pages of small type beginning with:

“1. The particular combination of sounds employed as the individual designation of a single person, animal, place or thing.”

Then a rambling of dozens of other definitions followed. It was like reading the rules for cricket. Obviously this is a word that carries a heavy load.  As a noun, its meaning is so broad that other words and phrases have been coined over the years to tote some of the baggage.

 

Let take a look at this name:ARCHITECT

An architect is someone who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design and construction of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek (arkhi-, chief + tekton, builder), i.e., chief builder. Throughout ancient and medieval history, most architectural design and construction was carried out by artisanssuch as stone masons and carpenters, rising to the role of master builder. Until modern times there was no clear distinction between architect and engineer. In Europe, the titlesarchitect and engineer were primarily geographical variations that referred to the same person, often used interchangeably.

It is suggested that various developments in technology and mathematics allowed the development of the professional ‘gentleman’ architect, separate from the hands-on craftsman. Paper was not used in Europe for drawing until the 15th century, but became increasingly available after 1500. Pencils were used more often for drawing by 1600. The availability of both allowed pre-construction drawings to be made by professionals. Concurrently, the introduction of linear perspective and innovations such as the use of different projections to describe a three-dimensional building in two dimensions, together with an increased understanding of dimensional accuracy, helped building designers communicate their ideas. However, the development was gradual. Until the 18th century buildings continued to be designed and set-out by craftsmen, with the exception of high status projects.

A name Airchitect has come from way back as we know he/she by then due to various developments in technology and mathematics allowed the development of the professional ‘gentleman’ architect. This has over the years given rise to creation of names in different regions to mean architect, something that’s easilly understood by the lay man other than him referringto everyone as engineer. Consider this:

 

Afrikaans words for architect

argitek

 

Japanese words for architect

創案者

Sōan-sha

建築家

Kenchikka

建設者

Kensetsu-sha

 

Swahili words for architect

mbunifu

 

msanifumajengo/muasisi

 

Hindi words for architect

वास्तुकार

Vāstukāra

वास्तुविद्‍

Vāstuvid‍

 

Luganda words for architect

?????

Luo words for architect

?????

Lusoga words for architect

?????

There is need for a name that can be used in Uganda, one that can make the profession known. One that can remain on peoples lips, easilyunderstood, easily pronounced.

 

What could that name be?

You hear people being refered to as an architecture, yinginiya,omukubi wapulani… oh my!Some are sentences. That makes me puzzled but what alternative do the people have? You will be called yinginiya, so will the porter, mason, craftsman etc.

A young Ugandan architect tried coming up with an alternative which was presented and is still being reviewed. He came up with a Luganda word; AKITENKIKYA.Creative it is; but do you kno that it would be ponounsed differently just within Buganda itself where different groups of Baganda have different pronunciations? And alas how would people from other regions pronounce it? That still has a lot to bring out the light.

An Architect is the master builder, Ssabazimbi! (Luganda word for chief builder). I am curious as to how this unfolds in the different regions.

Think about it: What would you like to be called?What can we be called? What’s the name? What’s the identity?Who are we to the common man?

 

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/architect#cite_note-1
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/architect#cite_note-2
  3. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary(8th), Oxford University Press