JIA (The Japan Institute of Architects) performs a range of activities, and its fundamental philosophy is to contribute to society. The job of an architect has an intrinsic duty to contribute to society, as an architect must protect the properties and lives of the nation's people and design beautiful and comfortable environments where people are able to lead an active life and participate socially. The job of an architect is to improve the wellbeing of society.
1. Activities to Improve Social Systems Relating to Architecture
In the area of architectural design, there exists a legislative system including the Building Standards Law and the Kenchikushi Law, tax system including property taxes, insurance system to guarantee the accountability of architectural design works, financial system to finance design and construction, and many other social systems. New design and production methods are being developed, too. Social systems must change according to technological innovations. JIA checks the social systems and proposes new and better ideas to enable construction of urban architectural environments that are beautiful, safe, and comfortable for the nation's people with regard to contemporary needs. JIA is currently working on the revision of the Kenchikushi Law and the designer selection system.
2. Activities to Improve the Quality of Architects
Architects are required to continually improve their abilities in order to respond to the constantly rising level of technological complexity and newly developed designing methods, innovations in information and other technologies and development methodologies, newly available technologies for urban disaster reduction and greater consideration for the Earth's environment. Architects are also required to maintain the profession's standard of ethics that at times brings conflicts of interest. JIA always prepares a continuing professional development (CPD) program corresponding to newly developed technology, and makes it compulsory for its members to be certified in order to ensure improvement of the members' abilities. In particular, JIA-registered architects have to satisfy a program certification level set higher, and their conduct is vigorously monitored and evaluated.
3. Activities to Disseminate the Culture of Architecture
JIA implements various activities to disseminate and enlighten the nation's culture of architecture.
JIA gives awards to architectural design of excellence to communicate the value of a culture of architecture to the society. JIA's awards include the following:
- The JIA Twenty-five Year Award: The award is given to acknowledge "an architectural design that has contributed to the community environment for over 25 years, endured the climatic elements to maintain a pleasant appearance, and thereby communicated the significance of architecture to society," and to commend "the people, i.e. architects, contractors, owners, and maintenance providers, who have contributed to the construction and maintenance of the beautiful architecture."
- JIA Grand Prix, JIA Award, JIA Architects of the Year: These awards were created to promote the exchange among members and promote their creative activity and to widely publicize their projects and achievements to society. The architects of up to 100 pieces of architecture are selected for JIA Architects of the Year, of which the finalists for the two major awards, JIA Grand Prix and JIA Award, are short-listed. JIA Award is given to several winners, and JIA Grand Prix to only one winner.
- The JIA Sustainable Architecture Award: This award is given to the winner that has satisfied a set of criteria including the implementation of the ideas expressed in the "Architectural Charter for a Global Environment," enacted by five architecture-related organizations of which JIA is one, and whether the architect was successful in creating valuable social capital incorporating various themes such as longevity, symbiosis with nature, energy conservation, resource conservation and recycling, and transferability of heritage.
- The JIA Young Architect Award: This award is given to an excellent piece of architecture that represents a brilliant idea and emotive form, rational realization of functionalities, consideration for nature and local custom and characteristics, as well as the spirit of our times. By acknowledging the architecture, which is the result of the work of an architect, the award is aimed to commend talented young architects meeting challenges and making sincere efforts.
ii. Book Publication
JIA publishes excellent research papers and books on the subject of architectural design. In the year 2005, JIA published a book entitled, Kenchikuka Machi ni Deyo (which means "calling all architects to go out to town"). JIA publishes its regular publication entitled "Architects."
iii. Conservation of Modern Architectural Heritage
JIA proposes ideas to conserve and restore excellent pieces of modern architecture.
4. Activities to Research and Study Relevant Architecture and Town Development
JIA conducts joint research and studies with specialists of various other disciplines to investigate what constitutes good and better architecture, town development design, planning, structure, environmental engineering and garden/landscape design. What is learned through these research projects and studies are made public through paper publication and issuance of guidelines to contribute to society's education on architectural environment and enhancement of architectural and environmental heritage.
5. Activities to Support Citizens' Town and Home Development
JIA supports citizens' town and home development projects. JIA provides the know-how of holding a competition, and selecting a designer by proposal or QBS process, and recommends suitable members to sit on the selection committee. JIA also dispatches specialists to town development projects. JIA provides architectural consultation to citizens working on home development. In addition, JIA organizes an architect cafe to contribute to citizens' learning about town and home development.
6. Activities to Develop Next-generation Architects
JIA conducts activities to nurture and develop young fledgling architects and students wishing to become architects.
- In order to raise the level of interest in architectural environment from a young age, JIA supports children's activities to learn about architectural culture, and holds workshops for children.
- JIA organizes a nationwide end-of-school design competition.
- JIA operates an Open Desk Program and Open School Program as internship programs for undergraduate and graduate students; 700 to 800 students utilize the programs annually.
- JIA organizes seminars and lectures for undergraduate and graduate students.
- JIA organizes seminars, exhibitions, and site tours to support and promote exchange among young architects as well as continued learning.
7. Activities to Support Recovery after Earthquake and Urban Disasters
JIA supports recovery efforts after earthquake, fire, and other disasters of urban areas. JIA has assisted in determining the anti-seismic strength of structures after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Great Chuetsu Earthquake, and the Iwate-Miyagi Inland Earthquake, provided the Post-Earthquake Temporary Risk Evaluation of Damaged Buildings and performed volunteer activities for recovery. JIA also has extended support through an international network to the areas affected by the large earthquakes in Pakistan and Java of Indonesia.
8. Activities to Support Architects' Duties
JIA assists architects in documentation and application of methodologies, etc. to ensure that their duties are performed in a correct and appropriate manner. JIA has produced a template of an agreement on architectural design and construction project management, which JIA members and their clients regularly use. Moreover, JIA extends vigorous support to younger architects through educational and training activities such as Professional School so they may perform their design work and other duties effectively.
9. Activities for International Cooperation and Coordination
JIA is the only organization to participate in the Japanese Section of UIA (International Union of Architects). JIA cooperates with AlA (The American Institute of Architects), and is one of the leading members of ARCASIA (Architects Regional Council ASIA). JIA exchanges experience and information with these other organizations on the subjects of sustainable cities, sustainable buildings, architectural education, and international issues. JIA has sent a member of the board of UIA. The world convention of UIA in 2011 will be held in Tokyo. JIA is the contact point to send applications for ARCASIA awards.
10. Activities to Certify Registered Architects
The current system for architects is not fulfilling its intended function to ensure that architects protect the nation's interests and build a beautiful, safe, and comfortable environment. In order to resolve this situation, we need to introduce a professional qualification system for architects. JIA is spearheading such a qualification system by registering and certifying architects for their excellence in design skills, keen awareness of their responsibilities, and a high standard of ethics, in order to realize a society where the nation's people may entrust their projects to the hands of design specialists (i.e. architects) with peace of mind.