What is the difference between an Architect and a Building Designer?

The business of Architecture and building design extends far beyond the designing of buildings. As a design professional in the construction industry, an architect or building design also has responsibilities to their clients, project stakeholders, the general public, and those they interact with on a daily basis, including those they employ.

'They both design buildings - What's the difference?'

An architect and a building designer largely perform the same role. This leaves many people confused as to their difference. They both design building. They both can be creative and artistic. They both can be educated and experienced. In short, in order to become an architect (or call yourself an architect, in Australia) you must be registered with the governing board of architects in whichever state you practice.


The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) is recognised as the national organisation responsible for establishing, coordinating and advocating national standards for architecture education and practice. The council consists of nominees from each State and Territory’s Architects' Registration Boards. The AACA is not a Registration Authority, and only makes recommendations to each state & territory.


In NSW, The NSW Architects Registration Board (ARB) administers the Architects Act 2003, the legislation regulating architects in NSW. The ARB protects consumers by ensuring that architects provide professional services, and are suitably qualified. This usually means that in order to become registered, an architect must hold a Masters in Architecture from a recognised Australian university (or equivalent). In addition to holding the necessary qualification, the prospective architect must prove they have undertaken sufficient experience, and demonstrate a high level of knowledge in the practice of an architect. This high-bar approach promotes the continued high calibre of practicing architects.


Comparatively, anyone can identify as a building designer, with or without formal qualifications and relevant experience. However, many building designers do hold formal qualifications; whether Certificates in Drafting, Diplomas in Building Design, and even Bachelor degrees and Masters in Architecture. In fact, students and graduates of Architecture cannot legally call themselves Architects until they undergo the arduous task of formal registration. Therefore, many highly educated and experienced graduates of architecture technically trade as a building designer their entire career.




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