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News I published 08 November 2022

Architects are losing decision power, but remain master of aesthetics

The roles and influence of all stakeholders in the building design and construction process are changing. As other parties like building owners, main contractors and engineers are gaining influence in earlier stages of the process, we see that architects are increasingly moving from being sole decision makers to being co-decision makers.  

That means that parties other that architect are also gaining influence on the choices for construction materials and brands. Consequently, manufacturers of such products may have to adjust their marketing efforts to effectively reach the relevant decision-makers. To do so, they need deeper insight into decision making in the construction process, which is why that is a regular focus of our European Architectural Barometer.  

Recent results from interviews with architects from eight European countries show that architects are indeed more often co-decision maker. However, the influence of other parties on material or brand choice varies and depends very much on the part of the building and type of materials.   

Other parties have most influence on the installation aspect of building construction 

Our results show that architects’ influence is smallest where it concerns the systems that have more to do with the functionality of the building and its surroundings, like Electrical and HVAC installation products, energy management and home automation systems, solar panels and EV chargers. In some cases, architects are even not involved in the decision for certain systems at all.  

Technical developments have made these systems more complex and options more numerous. Consequently, building owners have more options to choose from early in the process, and have more influence on decisions that determine the functionality of the building.  

The increasing complexity of materials and systems also make it harder for the architects to be sufficiently knowledgeable to make the right product and brand decisions or specifications by themselves. That is why architects are increasingly relying on specialists like engineering companies or specialised installers that help choosing the most suitable materials and brands of installations in the building.  

Architects remain master of their own speciality though 

In contrast to the above-mentioned installations, the architects are most often sole decision maker where it concerns the aesthetical aspects that determine the look and feel of a building. In practice, that means architects are most often sole decision maker where it concerns materials for the outside and inside of the shell of the building, like façade, wall, roofing and insulation materials and daylight solutions.  

This fits the wider picture of increasing specialization of stakeholders in building construction. As specialized parties are getting more influential in decisions for certain systems and materials, the architects are most influential in their own specialism, the decisions that determine the aesthetics of the building. Overall, the changing decision-making roles in the building design and construction process reflect a broader trend toward greater collaboration, integration, and specialization in the industry, driven by the need to deliver more efficient and sustainable buildings. 

To keep up with these changing roles, trends and developments in the building construction process, we refer you to USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer.   

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