The Australian Institute of Architects' latest consumer engagement campaign has raised hackles amongst building designers by denigrating their qualifications.

An advertising campaign launched by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has incurred the wrath of building designers in Victoria, as well as prompted the submission of a complaint by their state professional body to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

AIA first unveiled its “Ask An Architect” campaign in September 2014, with the goal of better apprising the public about the ins-and-outs of the architecture profession, as well as providing advice about working with architects during the purchase, renovation or maintenance of homes.

Building designers in Victoria have complained that the campaign engages in a “misleading” for of elitism.

One of the campaign advertisements denigrates the qualifications of building designers relative to architects by implying that their level of expertise is akin to that of an untrained layperson.

“You wouldn’t ask a hairdresser about heart surgery,” reads another. “So when it comes to renovating, ask an architect.”

ask an architect - steve rose

The Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) has taken its complaint to the ACCC and engage in correspondence with AIA, calling for it to suspend the advertising campaign immediately.

BDAV president Alistair McDonald said that publicity campaign is misleading and constitutes an attempt on the part of the AIA to compromise the livelihoods of the state’s building designers.

“We’re concerned that the AIA are misleading the public or the consumers saying that we’re not qualified, basically trying to restrict trade for our members or registered draughtspeople generally, just to try and monpolise the market, “ said McDonald to Fairfax. “I think it’s a form of elitism.”

Peter Malatt, president of the AIA Victorian chapter, has responded by pointing to the need for greater consumer safeguards when it comes to the design of the state’s multi-storey buildings.

“We believe there is insufficient protection of the public where building designers are designing multi-storey buildings without architecture qualifications, said Malatt.