Supporting Schools of Architecture Across the Commonwealth

CAA embarks on a mission to help build a coalition of Schools of Architecture across the Commonwealth.

Addressing the capacity gaps

In 2020 the CAA published a Survey of the Built Environment Professions in the Commonwealth which found there to be a critical lack of capacity among each of the principal built environment professions in many of the Commonwealth countries which are urbanising most rapidly and are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

The survey also revealed a corresponding lack of educational and institutional capacity together with an urgent need to update curricula while also maintaining competency among teaching faculty, students and practitioners through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The CAA recognises that addressing the findings of the survey requires a variety of responses which engage with the current system (normative responses) together with new and innovative approaches to address the capacity gap such as transdisciplinary training, the training of paraprofessionals, community empowerment, use of data and advanced technology etc (transformative responses).

Understanding the ecosystem

Architecture is a highly regulated profession in the majority of Commonwealth countries and exists within a complex ecosystem of legislatures, regulatory bodies, accreditation bodies, universities, and professional membership associations many of which have a shared interest in setting and regulating such issues as criteria, curriculum, competencies, and standards. The resulting complexity inevitably creates an inertia with consequences for reform.

Understanding the ecosystem in each country is a pre-requisite to engagement and the CAA is in the process of developing a database of all key Commonwealth stakeholders together with associated statutory instruments and regulatory requirements. To date, the CAA has verified a total of 674 schools of architecture across the Commonwealth, a number of which have been established for a relatively short period of time and many of which (particularly in the Global South) struggle to find sufficient experienced faculty and/or are working with limited facilities and outdated curricula. The places with the greatest capacity gaps are also faced with the greatest need.

See below for an interactive map showing schools of architecture across the Commonwealth:

Undertaking a pilot consultation

In order to engage with the nature, scale and extent of the challenges referred to above, the CAA recognises the opportunity to leverage the Commonwealth network to help convene Schools of Architecture and create a mutually supportive coalition. In April 2023, the CAA therefore launched a pilot consultation with 137 schools across all 5 Commonwealth regions in order to establish their appetite for such an initiative. Key findings from the questionnaire evidenced the fact that:

  1. 85% of respondents are interested in helping to build a mutually supportive online community among teaching faculty.
  2. 93% of respondents are interested in collaborating with another Commonwealth School of Architecture
  3. 65% of respondents are interested in learning more about validation.
  4. 78% of respondents are interested in promoting engagement with the Commonweath Youth Network.
  5. 87% of respondents (82 no) identified other aspects of their school/faculty that would benefit from some form of capacity development, knowledge sharing.
  6. 72% of respondents undertook a curriculum review 1-3 years, ago, 21% 4-7 years ago and 6% over 8 years ago.
  7. 65% of respondents consider their curriculum ‘somewhat’ prepares their students to engage with the needs of their local market and with international policy objectives such as the SDGs. 27% stated ‘very much’ while 9% (8 no) stated not at all.
  8. 91% of respondents are interested in engaging in a discussion around the development of core competencies.
  9. Most of the respondents consider that the 6 elements contained within the Climate Framework form part of their curriculum to a greater or less extent, the weakest element being ‘circular’ economy’.
  10. A substantial number of respondents believe their faculty would benefit from training in all of the six elements of the Climate Framework, notably ‘Energy & Carbon’.
  11. 89% of respondents stated that their school/faculty undertakes research across
  12. Respondents appear to be undertaking research across a broad range of topics with ‘Environment’ scoring most responses and ‘Building Technology’ scoring least.
  13. A significant number of respondents expressed an interest in supporting the CAA in its research/policy activities, especially, ‘Capacity building & CPD’ (75 no), ‘Evidence based design & policy making’ (70 no) and ‘Energy, Carbon & Building Performance’ (68 no).

The CAA has published a copy of the findings and is considering next steps.

CAA publishes the findings of a pilot consultation