Top 5 challenges facing architects in Africa

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As construction industry in Africa continues to grow the demand for quality architects is on the rise too.
The two goes hand in hand. However enormous challenges continues to affect architects in Africa.

As a great writer in the construction topics I have interacted with many architects in Africa and we analysed the common problems they are facing in their day today activities in Africa.

Most African architects have been staring into the headlights for far too long. It’s time to use those headlights to illuminate our future and to change the conversation.

Let’s reconsider the role and importance of our profession and explore how to work together to secure and expand our critical role in the future of the built environment.

1. The architecture profession is in transition
Yes where you left your profession ten years ago is not the same you will find today therefore what you knew in the last few year is not the same you will know in the current times.

The first digital natives are entering the workforce, with high design aspirations but lacking the necessary knowledge to detail, direct and coordinate. Fee pressures can mean that older architects simply don’t have time to provide an apprenticeship.
In the current construction works, bright ambitious designers are striking the industry and they are using fabulous tools.
Therefor profession needs to provide clear career progression, structured experience and comprehensive skills development to allow for mobility for individuals and flexibility for the organization as a whole.

2. Improving business outcomes for clients
Competitive environments affect corporations, healthcare service providers, educators and retailers alike and the costs of assets and operations are increasingly scrutinized. Architects are recognised for their ability to translate requirements into solutions that demonstrate higher productivity, enhanced brand value and higher levels of staff and customer satisfaction. The profession must campaign to promote these skills that deliver huge value to clients over many years and underpin the sustainability of client organisations.

3. Competition
Competitions is a norm in any kind of business but with the arising number of architecture firms in Africa there is more competition in winning even simple tenders.

4. Specialisation
Regardless of scale, being expert at one or a few selected building typologies is a way of remaining an architect of choice. This means gaining a deep understanding of that client’s imperatives, whether commercial, operational, pedagogical or model of care. Quality design is a more fluid skill and must integrate with both the local site conditions and with the sector specialist requirements. Building a reputation in a particular typology not only builds brand and market, but also opens up the potential for higher levels of efficiency. This efficiency can take the form of object libraries/families, room data sheets, planning modules, standard details and knowledge of codes.

5. Earlier contractor involvement
Contractors are becoming involved in the procurement process earlier and earlier, as clients seek to shift risk through PPP, D&C and other forms of packaged procurement methods. Such packaging works best if the client brief has been clearly articulated and if the client continues active involvement in the design process. There is a major role for architects, as specialists, to work with clients to develop such a robust and flexible brief and to assist the client with ongoing independent monitoring. At best, early contractor involvement can result in a more holistic approach, tap into a more diverse range of skills and solutions and enhance the overall knowledge of our professionals.