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Comments on petition to amend Construction Law aimed at expanding limited architectural powers

14 of November '22

Architects are a profession of public trust, which is a profession with an aesthete, more and more in theory than in reality. For years there has been a slow aesthetic and moral degradation of both the architectural community, the public's perception and awareness of the profession, and those on whom it depends to establish the rules and conditions for its practice. The blame for this situation also lies with the architects themselves, who, by undercutting the price of services, design focused on having something to design at all, adapting to unrealistic contract terms, often at the expense of the quality of the architecture created. This was fostered by successive changes describing the architectural profession and its services in the Construction Law, Public Procurement Law, among others, but also by the lack of respect and application of the creator's copyrights on a daily basis.

A number of provisions, introduced almost mechanically into contracts for design work or in competition regulations, do not surprise and shock architects, but also do not reflect on their consequences in the future. Thus, our environmental horizons and perspectives are successively narrowing, building a very sad picture of the profession, which is far from the face of the architectural profession of the past, its nature and the way it was practiced. In addition, just now the time has come when attempts are being made to take away from architects the last bastion of the profession, that is, the right for us to create our common public space in accordance with our knowledge, education, sense of aesthetics and experience.

We, who have signed the petition, protest, because we do not agree to such changes in the architectural profession, and as a consequence - the degradation of Polish architecture.

Already more than 5,000 people have signed the petition in protection of architectural licenses. This was done not only by architects, but also by constructors, construction managers, sanitary system designers, teachers, civil servants, pharmacists, veterinarians, doctors, lawyers - simply friends of architecture, who are not indifferent to what surrounds us. They did it out of respect for what we create, our common good which is space, architecture and the profession of architecture, identifying them with education, experience and, above all, awareness of the responsibility of co-creating culture, which cannot be measured by the size of the building to 1000 m³ or more, and even not allowed. Decisions about shaping the environment that affect our lives and health, both now and in the future, cannot be placed in the hands of people without qualifications in architecture. Civil technicians and engineers have their place in the design-build process, and they are not denied their undoubted contribution to the final shape of a building (see Katowice's "Spodek"). However, they should remain a separate profession and, in accordance with their competence, co-participate in the construction process, and not replace the architectural profession, even on a scale of up to 1,000 m³.

History teaches that only cooperation between architects and constructors bore good fruit, especially evident in the form of spectacular buildings, not only pleasing to the eye for many years, but also surprising with technical solutions. It is worth continuing to benefit from this experience. In the opinion of the signatories to the petition, the developed rules for obtaining construction authorizations in the architectural profession, and consequently the knowledge of the design capabilities possessed, is adequate, and there is currently no reason to expand the scope of limited authorizations, actually reducing the scope of unlimited authorizations, which the vast majority of architects possess. This goes against everything that has been developed over the years, including in the Law on the Professional Self-Government of Architects and Civil Engineers.

To these unnecessary and detrimental to the culture of building and shaping space, all those who created, circulated, signed, made public and supported this petition oppose and say a firm NO. By signing the petition, we have decided to fight for the profession and the future of Polish architecture, so that despite the determination to persist in the profession, we will not be left in the future without laws, opportunities, principles, morals, and only with a handful of silver in our pockets.

Barbara Ziemba

architect, member of the Łódź Regional Chamber of Architects, owner of the Prosty Architekt studio.

We would like to remind you that the amendment to the Construction Law is ultimately scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2023. The changes to the regulations would allow single-family houses to be built on a notification basis, with no restrictions based on square footage. The biggest controversy is primarily over the expansion of architectural rights. Under the new law, all types of buildings with a volume of up to one thousand cubic meters could be designed not only by architects, but graduates of construction technicians and civil engineers.

Petitions can be signed online - see here.

The vote has already been cast