Welcome to JIA
The 12 th President of the Japan Institute of Architects
The Japan Institute of Architects (JIA) was established in 1987. It was originally known as the Architects Association (Zouka Gakkai), formed in 1886. JIA aspires to act as an organization that contributes to society, and is thereby trusted by the nation's people and society. As the 11th President of JIA, I define the role of an architect and JIA as described below. I hope that this document will be helpful for the nation's people to understand our mission, and that many of them will join our effort to build a better future.
What is an architect?
Architectural design is a collaboration involving a number of specialists, and an architect is the person who supervises the entirety of the work. A structure must be safe and beautiful. It must also be comfortable for people who use it. In some cases it must generate economic benefits. It must be built with due consideration for the surrounding, local, and the Earth's environment. An architect is a person who contributes to society by responding to all these different needs and requirements and constructing a structure that will become a new environment for people to use and enjoy.
An architect's work is not confined to the site
An architect does his/her best to realize all the items on the client's wish list; however, in order to design the totality of a relationship between the building and the local street landscape, culture, history, custom, and environment, the architect's attention must not be confined to the building site. This is because a building is also a component of its surrounding town or community.
An architect acts in collaboration with citizens
An architect works for his/her direct client as well as their indirect client, i.e. society. If an architect is building a public facility, he/she must design the building and surrounding urban environment in collaboration with local people. Thus, an architect is a partner with local people. Moreover, an architect must in some cases design buildings with consideration for life forms other than humans that live in the area.
An architect raises the value of the environmental assets
Asking an architect to design a building, in a sense, means entrusting your tangible assets in someone else's hands. Therefore, an architect must respond to the client's trust by designing a beautiful, safe, and comfortable architectural environment that will raise the value of the assets. In this sense, an architect is also an asset manager.
An architect must maintain his/her independence and impartiality
The requirement to contain project expenses within the client's budget while nevertheless maintaining high-quality construction standards is often in direct conflict with a general contractor's self-interest in maximizing profits. An architect manages that self-interest by providing an independent and impartial overview while designing a quality structure that fulfills the client's requirements at a reasonable cost. As underscored by the anti-seismic construction scandal, it is even more important for today's architects to remain independent from the other project participants.
An architect is held responsible for the design
Based on a plan, a work of architecture involves the interaction of many professionals. However, if there is a design contract, the architect is ultimately held accountable for the entire architectural design when a defect is discovered.
An architect is selected for idea, design, and technology
A designer of a public facility is often selected through a design tender. The decision-making in this process is based on the tendered price of designing. Japan is probably the only nation that has adopted such a practice, which has been blamed for encouraging a criminal act, i.e. bid rigging, or an act of self-denial, i.e. dumping, on the part of the architects. This uniquely Japanese system does not promote creativity and should be abolished. A designer of a national facility is, in principle, selected through a Proposal Process (*1). JIA, on the other hand, recommends QBS (Quality Based selection) (*2). There are various methods for selecting the designer of a public structure, but most importantly, the selection must be based on idea, design, and technology, not on the price.
An architect serves humanity's future
Children are the builders of our future. If architects fail to produce buildings and urban environments where children can enjoy healthy growth, Japan will have no future to speak of. Children are stimulated by the space around them, and learn their behavior from their environment. The software of development, e.g. education and lifestyle, is important of course, but we must take note that the hardware of development, including the natural environment, is also a factor to determine the way children think and act. Architects are responsible for building an environment where children's wellbeing is guaranteed. The same is true for our elderly citizens, and citizens with impairments. An architect must serve all of society by designing an environment where everybody with his or her different needs can lead an active and healthy life.
An architect generates new cultural value
An architect works in collaboration with the public administrators, developers, people in the business world, consumers, and other stakeholders from other disciplines to generate cultural value. In today's world where we all have to respond to societal changes, including fewer births and population ageing, the mandate to conserve the Earth's environment, and the advancement and diffusion of information networks, an architect must act as a creator of a new culture.
Improvement of the architect's working environment
The price of architectural design in Japan is extremely low in comparison to other nations. The ratio of the architectural design cost in the total construction cost is also low. In order to realize high-quality architectural environments, time and money need to be spent on its design. Japan is known as a nation that does not spend much on the software side. However, in order to realize the qualitative improvement of the architects who must produce a beautiful, safe, and comfortable urban architectural environment, Japan must overhaul the working environment surrounding the architectural designers. Two of the factors contributing to the current problems are 1) design tender for public facilities, and 2) a practice by construction companies that is known as "free-of-charge designing." These two practices must be abolished to raise people's awareness of the true value of design work, so that the nation's architects may appropriately contribute to creating beautiful and attractive urban environments.
JIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conducts
JIA members work in collaboration with specialists in other disciplines, and fulfill their mission to create the architectural culture of the contemporary society. An architect's service is not limited to providing sincere and highly technological solutions to the clients' needs. An architect also bears the responsibility to generate new spatial value to add to society's public interest. In the world of building construction where many conflicts of interests exist, an architect must act with a keen sense of professional ethics. JIA Code of Ethics provides guidelines and objectives, while the Code of Professional Conducts provides the standard of conduct. An infringement on either by a member is subject to reprimand by JIA. (For more details, please refer to JIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conducts enacted in 1988 and revised in 2004.)
Charter of JIA Architects
(To replace five provisions concerning professional skills)
Enacted on July 19, 1989; revised on May 26, 2004 and May 27, 2005
An architect shall, through his/her profession, contribute to succession and development of the social and cultural assets built up by our ancestors, conservation of the Earth's environment, design of safe, secure, and comfortable living space, and development of culture.
- Creative Activity: An architect shall perform his/her duties with the awareness that architectural design is a creative activity based on highly technical and special skills as well as an artistic sense.
- Fair and impartial: An architect shall maintain a free and independent spirit to execute his/her duties from a fair and impartial standpoint to fulfill his/her responsibility to the client and society.
- Continual Learning and Development: An architect shall fulfill his/her role by improving his/her skills through continual learning and development.
- High standard of ethics: An architect shall maintain a high standard of ethics and integrity of his/her actions.
The Japan Institute of Architect (JIA) is an organization of architects who agree to and practice the above Charter. JIA guarantees the quality and high standards of conduct of its members to society.