ArchiTeam membership

Making the most of membership – ArchiTeam

Apr 12, 2022
  • Article by Madeleine Swain

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, ArchiTeam is a membership cooperative for Australian architects working in small, medium and emerging practices. Three members talk about their involvement and experiences. 

Fooi-Ling Khoo, director OOF! Architects

When did you first join ArchiTeam and how did you hear about it?

I’ve been a member for a long time now. It was a word of mouth thing. When you first start your own practice or start talking about doing that, people say, “You’ll need to get insurance and you’ll need to do this and that.” And ArchiTeam was recommended by other architects.

What has your experience been with the cooperative?

One of the main things is actually just stumbling upon the community of other people who are in the same position. As well as people who are actually experienced veterans in the industry and to have that perspective of understanding this particular end of small practice, which is quite specific.

Then when they first set up the ArchiTeam Awards, I was involved with those subcommittees, helping the directors and other people in the co-op. And it was actually a great way of getting to know and understand how the co-op worked.

You work through different portfolios at different times. My most recent one was in marketing and public relations and public advocacy ​​and then I was chair of the board for a couple of years in 2019 and 2020.

What do you think are the most important things it offers architects?

Small and sole practitioners tend to be much more isolated because they obviously work by themselves. And so it is a way of actually bringing people together. And ​​an ongoing mission is advocacy in terms of representing the interests and the issues that affect small practice. ​​

Peter Hogg, founder pH architects; head of Program, Bachelor of Built Environment. Melbourne Polytechnic

When did you first join ArchiTeam and how did you hear about it?

I went into private practice in the early 2000s, and I think my first year I actually got my insurance through the AIA. And then we had the HIH collapse and the prices just went through the roof. So I thought, ‘I’ll talk to ArchiTeam.’ I joined them around 2002, 2003.

What has your experience been with the cooperative?

At one of the meetings, one of the directors I think at the time said, “We’re looking at doing a CPD program, who would be interested?” And no one put their hand up. So I said, “OK, I’ll be involved in that.”

I turned up at one of these meetings and no one else turned up. I thought, well, that makes me the committee and I’m going to run it how I think it should be run. ​​

I was also on the board for seven years, when I thought it was time I moved aside to let some new blood in and have a bit of a generational change. In my final months I wrote a pocket history of ArchiTeam, because one of the risks in any organisation is there’s a loss of collective memory.

What do you think are the most important things it offers architects?

There was a requirement under the Architects Act for people to get insurance and you got a much better deal by having a group insurance policy. And we set up a continuing professional development program, because it looked like it was going to become a requirement. In fact, it took years before it became a legal requirement under the Architects Act.

And we wanted to have an awards program that reflected our membership, as there was a feeling that it was the projects with big budgets that usually received awards.

Do you intend to remain a member and what would you like to see ArchiTeam provide in the future?

We actually had a mentoring service, which I was involved in for a couple of years after I was off the board. I don’t know what else ArchiTeam should do. I think they’re doing pretty well, to be honest.

Tara Ward, co-founder Fowler and Ward Architects

When did you first join ArchiTeam and how did you hear about it?

I first joined ArchiTeam as a newly registered architect who needed insurance to work on small projects for family and friends. Two years ago, my business partner Jessie Fowler and I started our own practice. It was an easy decision to transition the coverage to Fowler and Ward where we have been able to take advantage of all the other aspects the cooperative has to offer. 

What has your experience been with the cooperative?

Starting a business at the beginning of the pandemic was challenging, but our participation in the ArchiTeam Awards helped us gain industry exposure and added a sense of legitimacy to the practice. We even won a significant project off the bat of receiving a commendation for our Kensington house in 2020.

The CPD events are extremely well targeted to the scale of our practice and offer different perspectives on the intricacies of running a business and managing projects.

What do you think are the most important things it offers architects?

ArchiTeam offers a small-practice network of peers and professional exposure, both of which have been invaluable for us as a new business.

The Facebook page is a much appreciated resource for us. It’s very reassuring to know that there are other architects working through similar issues to those we’re facing – especially during a time when we’ve all been particularly isolated.

Do you intend to remain a member and what would you like to see ArchiTeam provide in the future?

Fowler and Ward absolutely intend to remain an ArchiTeam member and we can’t wait to start attending ArchiTeam events in person again!

This is an excerpt of an article that will appear in the next edition of Architectural Review – AR170

Photo: L–R Peter Hogg, Fooi-Ling Khoo, Tara Ward

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