The Evolving Role Of Architects: How Globalisation Is Affecting An Industry


By Brian Toyota, ML Design

Globalisation is slowly turning the world into one large marketplace, but it’s impacts on the property and development industry are just starting to emerge – especially when it involves the role of the modern architect.

What used to be small project teams based in one city are now large, multi-faceted project teams based from a number of different locations. Large scale projects overseas in Asia and the Middle-East are now being developed by international developers, designed by Australian studios and built by locals.

It is a truly global industry.

But while globalisation has taken hold of the property and development industry, one thing that needs to be acknowledged is just how much of an impact it has had on the role of the modern architect.
Architects aren’t bound by geographic location
With globalisation in full force, architects are no longer bound by their geographic location and the rise of onshore/offshore architecture has become much more pronounced in the last 10 years – completely changing the role of the architect.

Australian-based architects now have the ability to work on projects across the world – which presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges. Architects now have to be able to understand numerous local cultures in order to deliver a design that masterfully combines a sense of place with innovation.

This cross-cultural design opportunity can also lead to more unique designs across the globe – since onshore/offshore architects have the opportunity to pull design inspiration from a number of different cultures, locations and global projects.
The need for collaboration is always increasing
The rise in globalisation hasn’t come without its challenges for architects – working in a number of different time zones, with a number of different building codes and planning regulations means that architects need to have one main skill: collaboration.

Design, Planning, Architecture

Architects need to work closely with all stakeholders (local and international) to ensure that all design requirements are understood by all team members, and it is up to the architect to ensure the team is on the same page when it comes to the design challenges and considerations.

This is impacting the role of the architect in many ways, but the most obvious is the creation of multi-disciplinary teams that have the ability to work on large international projects and still deliver innovative design solutions.

A multi-disciplinary design team was almost unheard of 20 years ago, but due to globalisation it is now a must have for successful project outcomes. With the introduction of multi-disciplinary design teams, architects are now required to do much more workshopping and collaboration directly with project stakeholders in order to finalise a project design.
Rapid changes in technology impact on what architect’s do
The rapid changes in technology that have swept through other industries (from Uber to AirBnB) are beginning to impact on what architects do, the processes they go through, how the job is completed and even the nature of different building types.

These technology changes significantly broaden the role of the architect from someone who designs specific building types – to someone who solves complex problems relating to the built form in the environment. This change drastically impacts on the architect’s role in a project.

Advances in technology also mean that developers are changing the way they operate, making architects adapt and pivot their working style to focus on collaboration in order to deliver strategic design outcomes.

Globalisation is a great thing for the property and development industry and while it is changing the way architects work, it is giving designers the opportunity to create more unique, innovative and culturally diverse projects across the globe.


Brian Toyota

Brian Toyota is the Studio Lead at ML Design. He plays a key role in the planning, design and delivery of major projects throughout Australia and South-East Asia.

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