An architectural technologist is the practical executor of the architect's conceptual designs.
While architects are responsible for coming up with initial concepts and designs, architectural technologists are more concerned with the technical side of construction. Architectural technologists work closely with architects and other building professionals and they try to resolve any potential design problems before construction starts.
The architectural technologist spends most of the time at the drawing board, but he is also expected to assist the architect in the following areas:
Selecting the best materials and processes for the poject
Site surveying: which includes preparing measured drawings of existing buildings and collection of practical information relating to the proposed project
Analysing architectural plans and drawings, highlighting any possible risks or problems and making amendments using computer-aided design applications (CAD), preparation of presentation drawings and models of the design for submission to the client for whom the building is being designed
Detail and landscape design
Preparation of working drawings: that will serve as legal instructions to the building contractor
Supervision of the building process: to ensure that the building is built according to the working drawings and other legal documents
Liaising with the architect, surveyors and other construction professionals
Architectural technologists are therefore expected to do research, assist architects in the collecting of information and to integrate this information into the design. They are required to do some designing and to be able to translate the architect’s conceptual design into a workable building.
Freehand drawing must be learnt to be able to prepare presentation drawings of the building in its environment. A good and broadly based knowledge of building construction and building services is necessary, so that the architectural technologist can ensure that the building is workable. He must be able to communicate the information to the building contractor.
Most work is carried out in the office, although site visits are common. Architectural technologists usually work as part of a team of professionals. Extra hours during the evenings and weekends may be required where project deadlines dictate.
Key skills for architectural technologists:
A strong interest in architecture, mathematics, drawing and design, with an excellent eye for detail, art and design skills to complement technical know-how, strong communication and leadership skills, competence in CAD, an analytical mind with strong problem-solving ability, strong leadership and organisation skills, the ability to work on your own initiative and as part of a team, excellent communication skills, both written and oral, high levels of creativity, imagination and vision, the ability to work well under time and budget pressures and must enjoy working with your hands and be willing to work outdoors.
The technical training in Architectural Technology is based on communicating with drawings. It includes a theoretical knowledge of building construction technology and the design of buildings, building science, history of architecture, building services, and specification of building products.
The training at a university of technology is just as rigorous as that at university, but the emphasis is different. The university education is primarily academic and design orientated. The university of technology emphasises the technology of buildings, as well as skills training through a system of “co-operative education”. Students study full-time for the first year, work in an architect’s office for the second year and return for full-time studies during the third year. This system gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience and a small salary while being educated.
Universities of technology offer a basic three-year course leading to a N.Dip. Architectural Technology. Students may select to continue to a fourth year or B. Tech. Architectural Technology degree specialising in either Applied Design, Technology or Architectural Management.
Architectural technologists have their own professional association, called the South African Institute of Architectural Technologists (SAIAT).
Diploma: Architecture and Architectural Technology - UJ, CPUT, DUT, TUT, NMMU
South African Institute of Architectural Technologists
Cnr. Sovereign- and Mullins Streets
South African Council for the Architectural Profession
51 Wessel Road, Right Wing,
Rivonia, Sandton, 2128
Tel: (011) 479-5000