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Industry's first Principal Designer Register lets architects take the lead on building safety

Posted: 30th October 2023

As part of its commitment to drive a culture change in building safety, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has opened applications to the industry’s first Principal Designer Register, allowing architects to demonstrate their competence for this crucial new safety role.

Under England’s new Building Regulations, published in August 2023, every building project must now have a Principal Designer. This is an individual or organisation appointed by the client to take the lead on planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety and building regulations compliance during the design of a project.

The RIBA Principal Designer Register will enable individual UK RIBA Chartered Members who have the necessary knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours to prove their competence through a three-stage assessment process.

It will also enable clients to find a suitably qualified Principal Designer by searching the RIBA Principal Designer Register.

The Register will include a higher competency level for those working on Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs), defined as 18m or more in height or having at least seven storeys, and containing at least two residential units.

RIBA Chair of Board Jack Pringle said: “Demands for stronger building safety regulations and higher professional competence has never been greater – affecting not only architects, but all those involved in the design and construction of buildings.

The RIBA Principal Designer Register, the sector’s first competency database, provides professionals with a means to demonstrate appropriate professional expertise and, more broadly, to fulfil new Building Safety Act requirements.

It’s a practical step in the right direction – a fundamental piece of work that supports the greater, industry-wide culture change to ensure the highest standards of building safety.

How to join the RIBA Principal Designer Register

Individual RIBA Chartered Members can now apply to join the register. The assessment process comprises:

  1. A knowledge test
  2. Submission of written evidence of your knowledge, skills and professional experience
  3. An interview stage

A subscription fee will apply, and members will need to re-apply after 5 years.

Applications will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and applicants are encouraged to take their time to complete the knowledge test and submission of evidence before the final interview stage is scheduled. Applicants have 12 months to complete the assessment.

Apply to join the register.