This is an article from the Architecture Australia archives and may use outdated formatting

Taking the Pulse of Architecture: The RAIA Polls Members’ Attitudes

Who would deny an occasional indulgence in bagging the RAIA? Any eavesdropper at Institute gatherings is familiar with the litany of its assumed inadequacies … irredeemably ineffectual, terminably elitist and sexist, totally out-of-touch with its members and the modern world. Dare one suggest that, like most organisations governed by elected councillors, the RAIA could also be read as a barometer of the foibles and anomalies of a complex, flawed culture? Perhaps these complaints are symptoms of democracy’s incurable malady: humanity cannot consummate perfection.

That’s no excuse, of course, for the RAIA to lose steam in tidying up its act— and it has recognised that a good start is to regularly gauge what architects really think, want and need. Results of its 1995 Membership Attitude Survey—polling 1800 members—offer a valuable precis of practitioners’ circumstances and perceptions. Here are the key conclusions. Order the full report ($10) from National Research Manager James Carino at RAIA Practice Services in Melbourne: ph (03) 9650 2477; fax (03) 9650 3364—Davina Jackson.


  • Age: 40-49 years—34%; 30-39 years—24%; 50-59 years—21%; over 60 years—11%; under 29 years—10%.
  • Gender: male—87%; female—13%.
  • Place of residence: NSW—35%; Victoria—25%; Queensland—17%; WA—7%; SA—6%; overseas—4%.
  • Location of practice: City—48%; suburban—42%; country—10%.


  • In full-time architectural work—78%.
  • In part-time architectural work—9%.
  • Seeking full-time work—2%.
  • Why not working full-time: Family—36% women, 4% men; lifestyle change—26%; career change—25%; retrenched—15%.


  • Use time sheets for billing clients? Often—34%; sometimes—29%; never—3%.
  • Methods of appointment? Client selection and fee negotiation—77% use this system for 52% of their projects; fee bidding—48%/16%; part of a design/construct bid team—30%/8%.
  • Project procurement systems: Architect administered contracts—74% use on 48% of projects; design and construct—34%/11%; project management—41%/15%.


  • Don’t use a computer—29%.
  • Use a computer for more than four hours a day—20%.
  • Type of computer used: IBM—70%; Mac—24%; both—6%.
  • Have a computer with CD-ROM—44%.
  • Use computers for CAD—58%.
  • Use email—15%.
  • On the Internet—12%.
  • Use a mobile phone—50% (mostly analogue).

Overseas Work

  • Providing architectural services overseas? No—77%; 10-80% of work is on overseas projects—18%; most or all work is overseas—5%.
  • Locations of overseas projects: Asia/Pacific—70%; Europe—6%; North America—12%; not stated—14%.

RAIA Activities

  • Members believe the RAIA service of most importance to them is Practice Notes—and they seem remarkably pleased with the current delivery of that service.
  • The RAIA is thought to be performing poorly in two areas also considered very important—lobbying government on architectural issues and public awareness (through media statements and community education programmes) of architects’ services, achievements and opinions on urban issues.
  • RAIA publications are considered to be of average importance to members—yet are thought to be performing well; with Architecture Australia currently rated second-best of the RAIA’s services.
  • Members think that research is an important RAIA priority but delivery is so-so.
  • Not considered important, but being delivered well, are Chapter social events and the RAIA Architecture Awards.


  • Members are interested in seeing publications on: design—46%, environmental issues—33%; practice management—31%; marketing—24%; law and liability—22%; business and financial management—22%; new technology—20%; individual architects and firms—20%; construction—16%; new products and services—15%; project management—15%; details—12%; theory and history—12%; building types—11%; CAD—10%.

Professional Development

  • Support an RAIA professional development program—78%.
  • Have good access to professional development—67%. (Less agreement from members outside Australia or capital cities.)
  • Interested in unconventional forms of PD: videos—32%; self-paced learning—31%; study tours—26%; distance learning—17%; audio tapes—12%.
  • Only a few members (5%) intend not to access professional development. This is a notable reduction from the 18% who chose no to PD in the last survey.



Published online: 1 May 1996


Architecture Australia, May 1996

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