What exactly is the difference between an architect and an engineer?…

As you may have seen in previous posts, the transition from working in the UK to Ireland can be described as ‘interesting’ at best; one of the recurring questions I have been asked over the years is to explain the difference between an architect and an engineer. I am not sure whether this a curiously Irish (or even a West of Ireland) problem but here I hope to give guidance on when you need an architect.

The problem arises (now that we’re in the deepest depths of recession) with any job very scarce to find that all professions are liable to grab at any project that comes available; if if they’re not qualified (or more importantly insured) to do it. So here goes, what is the difference ?

The clues really are in the names:

ENGINEER : ENGINE : The root of engineer comes from the Latin ingenium, meaning ENGINE which referred to one’s ability to create things, one’s native genius and it is also the source of ingenious and ingenuity. Its first meaning in English, from about the fourteenth century, was very much this one of mother wit or genius, a skill in devising things. Such devises that would be ‘engineered’ would originally be the stocks, then latterly beer and fire engines !

Obviously the world has moved on since then and the profession of engineers is split into may different areas such as civil engineering, structural engineering etc…

Original text from http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/engine.htm

ARCHITECT : Comes from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων – arkhitekton, from ἀρχι- “chief” and τέκτων “builder, carpenter”).

Therefore, the root of ‘arch’ therefore is ruler, chief or creator (as in ARCH-Bishop) and the architect therefore is:

ARCHITECT = The creator of a design or plan for a building

So therefore, if you want someone to help you plan your house, or to design the plans of your building then you should employ an architect. And if you want an architect in Ireland then you should contact me !

Next blog post will be on why architects and engineers should work together…

0 thoughts on “What exactly is the difference between an architect and an engineer?…

  1. Architect Mark, It’s quite ironic here in Philippines because most people really don’t know the difference between an architect and civil engineer! Previous laws here don’t draw a line between the work of the architect and civil engineer. So, engineers can do the work of an architect! They can make plans, sign and seal architectural drawings. A lot of people hire them because they are cheaper than architects. There were 300,000 civil engineers and only 20,000 architects in the country. The architecture act of 2004 strictly prohibits civil engineers to make architectural plans, their license would be revoked if they do so. I hope that when I practice architecture in the future, things will change, and people will begin to see the difference between an architect and engineer.

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