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What does an Architect do?

Architects are responsible for designing the places that people need in order to live, play, work, learn, worship, shop, meet and eat. They use creativity and a practical understanding of structures and materials to develop concepts, plans, specifications and detailed drawings for new buildings and for restoring and conserving old ones. In addition to the general look of the building, architects must also take into consideration factors that will make the building functional, secure and economical.

Architects may perform the following tasks:

  • discuss requirements of clients or builders and prepare a brief
  • prepare sketches, production drawings and detailed drawings by hand or using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) equipment
  • combine structural, mechanical and artistic elements into the building design
  • discuss designs and cost estimates with clients and others involved in the project
  • obtain necessary approvals from authorities
  • prepare specifications and contract documents; observe, inspect and monitor building work
  • evaluate projects once they are completed and occupied.



What qualifications do I need?

Architects start their careers in this field by studying a Bachelor of Science: Architecture degree or a National Diploma: Architecture at a university or university of technology. A National Senior Certificate that meets the requirements for a diploma or degree course is a prerequisite for these courses. Graduates can then go on to do in-service training under the supervision of a registered architect. Once this theoretical learning and practical training is completed, they write a professional practice entrance exam. All graduates are required to register as architects with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Mathematics
• Physical Science
• Visual Arts


Where can I study?

University of KwaZulu-Natal
Bachelor of Architectural Studies

University of the Free State
Bachelor of Architecture

University of the Witwatersrand
Bachelor of Architectural Studies

University of Pretoria
Bachelor of Science: Architecture; Bachelor of Science: Interior Architecture; Bachelor of Science: Landscape Architecture

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Bachelor of Architectural Studies

Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Bachelor of Technology: Architectural Technology

Tshwane University of Technology
Bachelor of Technology: Architectural Technology

Where can I get more info?

South African Institute of Architects – www.saia.org.za
South African Council for the Architectural Profession – www.sacapsa.com
The South African Institute of Architectural Technologists – www.saiat.org.za


Interview with an Architect

Hassan Asmal, Director | ARCHITECT | ACG Architects & Development Planners

Hassan Asmal, Director | ARCHITECT | ACG Architects & Development Planners


Why did you become an architect?
I was always interested in doing creative things and interacting with people. Architecture was not a well-known profession in our community at the time I chose to do it; this was an added challenge.

What training did you undergo?
I obtained a Certificate in Architectural Draughtsmanship at the ML Sultan Technikon in Durban, and a Bachelor of Architecture degree at UCT.

Is there a career highlight that stands out for you?
Winning an Award of Excellence, and many others. Seeing projects come to fruition and their impact on communities and the environment. Becoming National President of the SA Institute of Architects, thereby contributing to the development of architecture both in this country and in other parts of the world.

What do you like most about your job?
The interaction with people, coming up with creative solutions and implementing them.

Is there a type of personality best suited to this profession?
One that asks questions, understands lifestyles, mixes freely and works well with others.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Keep an open mind and try to learn as much as you can during your formative years; this will equip you for the future.

Describe your job in three words
Challenging • Fulfilling • Rewarding