Architecture can be described as the design of the human environment, mostly buildings, groups of buildings and often the spaces between the buildings. The design, the documentation of designs, the inspection of the construction of buildings, but also their urban context, their gardens, their interiors and sometimes their furniture, all form part of the activities of the architect. Architectural design projects range in size and complexity from small alterations for a single house to large, multi-level commercial, industrial or public buildings and building complexes or even parts of cities. Architects are expected to develop and practise a wide variety of skills. Except for design and planning skills, architects should have technical, problem-solving, managerial, social-literacy, communication, co-ordination and entrepreneurial abilities. Since not every person has all these skills, many architects work in groups in which they concentrate on those aspects in which they are best.


Qualifications in architecture are subject to accreditation by the SA Council for the Architectural Profession, and must meet the standards set through legislation and by the profession. South African qualifications are highly regarded and many of the degrees and diplomas also enjoy international recognition. Architecture can be studied at several South African Universities and Universities of Technology.


Persons in the architectural profession serve clients, who might need buildings for themselves, or who could represent users, e.g. of hospitals, schools, community centres or private corporations. They assist clients in drawing up a brief and plan for their needs with the assistance of quantity surveyors, engineers and project managers. They then prepare sketch designs and models, cost projections, project documentation, submit plans for approval by the authorities, acquire tenders and then administer the building contract. Besides the time spent in the office, the architect moves around between various building sites and is in constant contact with clients and the many disciplines active in the building process.


You will need:

  • Imagination.
  • The ability to organise ideas and communicate them to others.
  • Creativity (not necessarily artistic ability).
  • Problem solving skills and an interest in human behaviour, our habitat and the natural environment.


High School Subjects Needed for Architecture In South Africa

Courses in architecture are continuously evaluated to meet the demands of developing technology and changing society. General subjects include design, construction, the history of architecture and a host of technical subjects ranging from water reticulation to electricity. Computer aided draughting is part of the course.


In order to be accepted at one of the six Universities to study architecture, one requires a Grade 12 exemption. Mathematics is generally a requirement.
The course at University is structured in two parts: the first is a three year course leading to a B Architectural Studies or B Sc (Architecture) degree, and the second is an additional two-year professional degree in Architecture which qualifies you to become an architect.A student who studies at university is able to exit university after obtaining the first three year B Architectural Studies or Building Science degree, and will be able to become a senior architectural technologist.


To study architecture at a University of Technology, a senior certificate or equivalent is required. A pass in maths and a science subject is required by some institutions. The courses in architecture are a three year National Diploma in Architecture and after an additional year of study a B Tech degree in Architecture can be obtained. This will enable a student to become an architectural technologist or senior technologist.


After receiving a qualification in architecture, one enters an in service training period as a candidate whose minimum lenghth is prescribed by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession SACAP in any one of the categories. After passing a Professional Practice entrance examination, one may register with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession as a professional. This is a requirement by law for practising architecture in South Africa.


Architecture can be practiced in one of four categories of registered person, namely professional architect, professional senior architectural technologist, professional technologist or professional draughtsperson. The possibility of progression from one category to the next has been provided for in the Regulations.


Practices in South Africa range from those run by a single person, to firms that employ more than 100 people. A medium sized office generally consists of two or three professional architects who design and manage the projects with the assistance of a few technologists and draughtspeople. Administrative staff provide the required support to the entire practice. Lecturing staff at universities and universities of technology are often registered professional architects, and may also be in private practice. Opportunities are available to join the in house professional team of a developer. Large corporations also employ architects in a variety of positions. Career opportunities exist in the public sector for suitably qualified people of the construction professions. Architects often specialise in a particular field of expertise.


To become self employed, you will need the usual office equipment as well as the necessary electronic equipment and draughting software associated with modern architectural practice. You will also need your own transport. Before practising on your own, you are required to pass the Professional Practice entrance examination after two years in service training. You will need to register as a professional with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession.


The standard of qualifications in Architecture is evaluated by the SA Council for the Architectural Profession for accreditation. Different qualifications, ranging from a two-year national diploma in architectural technology to a five year university qualification, consisting of a Bachelors, Honours and Masters (Pr) degree, are available.

Where to Study Architecture in South Africa

University School City Year founded Website
University of Cape Town School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, Cape Town www.arp.uct.ac.za
Durban University of Technology Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment Durban www.dut.ac.za
University of the Free State Department of Architecture Bloemfontein www.uovs.ac.za
University of Johannesburg Department of Architecture Johannesburg www.uj.ac.za
University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Architecture, Planning and Housing Durban arch.ukzn.ac.za
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University School of Architecture Port Elizabeth www.nmmu.ac.za
University of Pretoria Department of Architecture Pretoria
Tshwane University of Technology Department of Architecture Pretoria www.architec.co.za
University of the Witwatersrand School of Architecture and Planning Johannesburg www.wits.ac.za