Architectural Technology vs Architecture

There are a lot of people that ask me what I am studying and when I tell them that I am an Architectural Technology student they keep staring at me like I am talking nonsense and asking me what is the difference with Architecture. The fact is that most people never heard about this profession, and of course it didn't pass from their mind that behind a great design always hides a great technology that made it real.

What is the difference between architecture and architectural technology? There is fine line between the two subjects, the difference is so simple yet at the same time very complicated.

According to the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT), Architectural Technology is the technical side of design, it can be about how things look but mainly it is about how buildings work. It's all about problem solving and turning conceptual drawings into reality. It's understanding design and the buildability of buildings.

The explanation provided by the CIAT is perfect to explain the job of an architectural technician in just few sentences. The thing is, not everyone is going to understand if you explain it in the exact same words. People are going to understand better with simpler words, after all not everyone is into technology or architecture.

An architect is the creator of the design, the head and the brain. Without him, there is no design, not a great one at least. Everyone who can use the AutoCAD software can design a building, an architect's job is not just to design a building but to design THE building that is going to stand out for the requirements of the concepts.

After the architect finishes with his design, it is the architectural technician's job to determine what foundation system is going to be used for the building, if the building is going to be a steel-framed building or a concrete building, what type of structural system is best to be used, and all the technical details.

An architect in his presentation is going to talk about the design he is going to use and the material he wants to use according to their appearance. While an architectural technician is going to present the details of the buildings that is best to be used, for example, structural plans and detail sections that describe the type of walls, floors or roofs that are going to be used, the type of concrete, insulation and rendering to establish the best possible strength required as well as a good design for the building.

Sometimes an architectural technician can go through a different type of challenge than that of an architect, depending on the buildings position or any limitations the site or design can give him, in that case it is his job to come up with a new technology if it needs to make the architects design possible.

And finally, a more general explanation of what differences the two subjects have is the categories they belong to. Architecture is more like art and the architect is the artist, somebody who is going to create a piece of art, something to stand out. Whereas architectural technology focuses more in the scientific view of the construction of a building and how to materialise that piece of art.


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