Examination Of the professional practice characteristics of architectural firms in Nigeria


Examination Of the professional practice characteristics of architectural firms in Nigeria


A key  factor in  architecture is  that it  is a  professional service. The  profession revolves around  providing  value  for  the  customer.  Providing  such  value  has  come  to  mean  creating structures  that last  longer  and  using energy  more  efficiently to  create  structures  that are  cost efficient to owners (Jaiyeoba, 2002). Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons (2004), defined service as a time-perishable, intangible experience performed for a customer acting in the role of co-producer.

Kotler, Armstrong, Saunder  and Wong  (1999), on the  other  hand, defined  it as any activity or benefit that one party can offer to another which is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product. The special nature of professional services is seen in the special nature of what is sold -expertise-, as well as the fee and time basis most often involved in charging for it.  Architecture is one of such services with characteristics such as direct customer interaction, intangibility, and perishability (Davis and  Heineke,  2003, Fitzsimmons  and Fitzsimmons, 2004, Palmer, 2001, and Forsyth 2003).

However, Blau, (1984) suggested that architecture differs from other  professional services  in a  number of  ways.  It  is  more  involved with  the technocrat  and corporate elite than other professions and thus enjoys less legal protection than other professions like medicine. The integral importance of architectural practice to the general public is also low, as the  regular middle  class  man hires  shelter from  the  elite, who  is  the one  in  contact with  the architect.  Architects  provide  services,  which  includes  feasibility  studies,  planning,  designs, construction, conservation,  and development.  Architectural firms design a multitude of different structures  for  all  sectors  of  the  market.  Office  and  apartment  buildings,  schools,  military installations,  churches, factories,  hospitals,  houses,  and airport  terminals  are but  a  few  of the facilities that they design for private individual clients, as well as commercial, government, and private nonprofit organizations.

Blau (1984) noted that while some firms specialize in serving one niche  or  a  few  segments  of  the  market,  others  are  highly  diversified  and  offer  a  variety  of architectural services to all types of clients.  Over the years, Architecture has generated specializations such as structural design, urban design, city  planning, landscape  architecture and interior  architecture. Retrofitting  of buildings, architectural  conservation,  and  construction  management  have  also  lately  emerged  as specializations. Each of these compliments and supports each other.