Architectural Technologist

An architectural technologist is the practical executor of the architect's conceptual designs. 

While architects are responsible for coming up with initial concepts and designs, architectural technologists are more concerned with the technical side of construction. Architectural technologists work closely with architects and other building professionals and they try to resolve any potential design problems before construction starts.

The architectural technologist spends most of the time at the drawing board, but he is also expected to assist the architect in the following areas:

Selecting the best materials and processes for the poject

Site surveying: which includes preparing measured drawings of existing buildings and collection of practical information relating to the proposed project

Analysing architectural plans and drawings, highlighting any possible risks or problems and making amendments using computer-aided design applications (CAD), preparation of presentation drawings and models of the design for submission to the client for whom the building is being designed

Detail and landscape design

Preparation of working drawings: that will serve as legal instructions to the building contractor

Supervision of the building process: to ensure that the building is built according to the working drawings and other legal documents

Liaising with the architect, surveyors and other construction professionals

Architectural technologists are therefore expected to do research, assist architects in the collecting of information and to integrate this information into the design. They are required to do some designing and to be able to translate the architect’s conceptual design into a workable building.

Freehand drawing must be learnt to be able to prepare presentation drawings of the building in its environment. A good and broadly based knowledge of building construction and building services is necessary, so that the architectural technologist can ensure that the building is workable. He must be able to communicate the information to the building contractor.

Most work is carried out in the office, although site visits are common. Architectural technologists usually work as part of a team of professionals. Extra hours during the evenings and weekends may be required where project deadlines dictate.

Key skills for architectural technologists:

A strong interest in architecture, mathematics, drawing and design, with an excellent eye for detail, art and design skills to complement technical know-how, strong communication and leadership skills, competence in CAD, an analytical mind with strong problem-solving ability, strong leadership and organisation skills, the ability to work on your own initiative and as part of a team, excellent communication skills, both written and oral, high levels of creativity, imagination and vision, the ability to work well under time and budget pressures and must enjoy working with your hands and be willing to work outdoors.

Personal Requirements

  • ability to visualise and strong three-dimensional aptitude
  • interested in construction techniques, details, design and human habitats
  • ability to work accurately
  • ability to communicate ideas through drawing
  • ability to work independently and with others
  • aptitude for solving problems
  • creative and artistic, but practical
  • mathematical ability
  • proficient in speech and writing, to give instructions clearly
  • scientific and technical knowledge
  • be able to visualise

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.

What to Study

The technical training in Architectural Technology is based on communicating with drawings. It includes a theoretical knowledge of building construction technology and the design of buildings, building science, history of architecture, building services, and specification of building products.

The training at a university of technology is just as rigorous as that at university, but the emphasis is different. The university education is primarily academic and design orientated. The university of technology emphasises the technology of buildings, as well as skills training through a system of “co-operative education”. Students study full-time for the first year, work in an architect’s office for the second year and return for full-time studies during the third year. This system gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience and a small salary while being educated.

Universities of technology offer a basic three-year course leading to a N.Dip. Architectural Technology. Students may select to continue to a fourth year or B. Tech. Architectural Technology degree specialising in either Applied Design, Technology or Architectural Management.

Architectural technologists have their own professional association, called the South African Institute of Architectural Technologists (SAIAT).

Diploma: Architecture and Architectural Technology - UJ, CPUT, DUT, TUT, NMMU


  • architectural companies
  • real estate firms
  • building contractors and construction companies
  • such organisations as: Eskom, Mittal Steel, CSIR
  • universities and universities of technology
  • government and local government departments
  • self-employment, some architectural technologists are able to set up on their own

Further Information

South African Institute of Architectural Technologists
Suite 9A
Sovereign House
Cnr. Sovereign- and Mullins Streets
Bedfordview, 2008

South African Council for the Architectural Profession
51 Wessel Road, Right Wing, 
Rivonia, Sandton, 2128
Tel: (011) 479-5000

Getting Started

  • do as much interior decorating and designing as possible
  • arrange to talk to architectural technologists and ask permission to observe them at work
  • try to get vacation work, even if unpaid, with an architect or building contractor

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

Study Architecture at TUT

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