What is an architect?

Architects play an important role in the design and construction of Victoria's built environment – the houses, schools, office buildings and commercial premises we live, work and study in.

On this page, you will find more detail about what architects do and why they are regulated by the ARBV.  

Architects design the buildings and places we use every day. Some architects specialise in houses, some design commercial buildings like skyscrapers and factories, and others create interiors or outdoor spaces.

If you are engaging an architect to design a project for you, it's important that you can trust in their skills and experience. That's why architects in Victoria must be registered with the ARBV.

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If someone is not registered with the ARBV, they are not an architect. They cannot describe themselves as an 'architect' or cause people to believe they are an architect. They also may not say they offer 'architectural services', 'architectural design services' and 'architectural design' – even if they have relevant qualifications or are registered in another state, territory or country.

What architects do

Architects may be involved in every stage of planning, designing and constructing a project.

Architects may be involved in:

  • selecting sites and conducting feasibility studies
  • designing and planning buildings and outdoor spaces
  • maximising the project's environmental efficiency
  • coordinating regulatory approvals (such as planning and building permits)
  • managing budget and the construction process
  • coordinating specialists and consultants
  • overseeing building maintenance.

Architects often work alongside other specialists such as engineers, builders and surveyors to ensure a building project is completed safely and to a high standard.

What skills and expertise do architects typically have?

When producing plans, documentation, specifications and reports for a project, an architect must typically have skills, expertise and provide advice around the following items:

  • material selection and construction methods
  • regulatory requirements under building legislation, the National Construction Code (NCC) and Australian Standards
  • Planning controls, zones, overlays and special building requirements
  • Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating for buildings in bushfire prone areas
  • the Victorian Code for Tendering, to assist with a fair and equitable tender process
  • application processes for planning and building permits
  • the preparation of building contracts
  • undertaking project administration and monitoring the building progress on behalf of the client
  • seeking and coordinating input from specialist consultants.

Who can call themselves an architect?

Only those registered as an architect in Victoria. There are 2 classes of architect in Victoria:

  1. architect (practising)
  2. architect (non-practising).

To register as an architect in Victoria, an individual must have successfully completed the following:

  • a 5-year Master of Architecture or equivalent qualification
  • a minimum 2 years’ practical experience
  • a registration pathway to demonstrate competency across all areas under the National Standard of Competency for Architects.

How are architects regulated?

The ARBV is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date register of all architects working in Victoria. To work as an architect in Victoria, you must be registered in the Architect (practising) class and fulfil the following obligations:

  • successfully complete a registration pathway and be certified by the ARBV
  • pay the annual registration fee
  • ensure appropriate professional indemnity insurance is in place and provide proof to the ARBV
  • comply with professional obligations, including those provided by the Architects Act 1991 and the Architects Regulations 2015 (including the Victorian Architects Code of Professional Conduct)
  • complete annual CPD
  • be a fit and proper person.

If you are considering working with an architect, you may find it helpful to look at our working with an architect section.

More information

Other design professionals and building practitioners you may encounter