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UPA-BUA Union Professionnelle d'Architectes
Beroepsunie Van Architecten

V. Difficulties for the Order and the architects

A short history of belgian architects and their professional organizations

Part V.

Difficulties for the Order and for architects

If architects do not always manage their agencies at best, the same goes for their professional bodies. This finding led the Order to have two internal audit audits carried out successively in 1990. These studies reveal dysfunctions at both the National Council and the provincial level, and propose solutions that the following presidents will try to put into practice but with unfortunately few tangible results.

Yet in the same year and in order to give the Order new means while taking into account the financial difficulties of many colleagues, President Jan Ketelaer proposes a new system of contributions: one part is fixed and the other is modulated according to applications for building permits (it must be remembered that, a few years earlier, a contribution determined on the basis of a declaration on the honor of income had fizzled).

The Council of the Order will unfortunately opt for a complicated and administratively expensive sampling system of the modulated part and will not determine in advance the use of the product of the expected additional revenues (part of which will be allocated, three years later to the events the 30th anniversary of the Order). If we add the propensity of architects to criticize in principle the decisions of their professional bodies, it is not surprising to see 45 architects immediately send a collective letter to the President of the CNOA to request reimbursement of the contribution. modulated and create in the wake of a movement of opinion, the "Forum of Architects" (whose statutes will be voted on in January1991) who filed a complaint with the Council of State.

In 1995, the judgment following this complaint will not condemn the Order on the substance but on the procedure (and in particular on the fact that this contribution was not motivated by a budget). As a precautionary measure, the CNOA will abandon this method of collection and will reimburse the modulated portions of the contributions. The system of "tiered" contributions put in place later will unfortunately no longer have the same social character as the modulated contribution, which will later be regretted by many architects.

But the professional bodies will still meet many other issues of concern since in 1992 the European Directive 57/92 / EC, which defines the minimum requirements for the management of safety, health and well-being temporary and mobile sites.
A year earlier, a commission composed of members of the Order and professional groups already participated in the work of the Ministry of Employment and Labor on the transposition into Belgian law of this directive, but this participation will ultimately have little influence on the content of the new Belgian regulations.

During this period, the creation of the "Vlaamse Overleg" (a body which regularly brings together the representatives of the Flemish representatives and professional associations and which constitutes a first step towards a regionalization of the Order) is to be noted in this period. in 1992, that of the Order of Consulting Engineers and Engineering Offices of Belgium. This new entity called ORIB (a denomination deemed too "horrible" by one of its presidents) will become three years later the ORI and will change its name of "Order" to "Organization".

The Europe of Architects materializes

While European architects were already meeting regularly but informally within the CLAEU, Spain and France decided, in 1988, to create the European Council of Architects (CEA) which should allow the meeting of the orders of the architects of different European countries with a type of structure. Note that it was also in 1988 that the EUROPAN European ideas competition was launched for architects under the age of 40 and aimed at deepening the reflection in the field of housing and urban planning.

It will take another two years for the Architects' Council of Europe (CAE), which succeeds CLAEU and CEA, to be founded on 11 May 1990 in Treviso and now replaces them.
However, some former members of CLAEU (and in particular countries that do not have ordinal-type instances) will at the same time create the CLAI (Liaison Committee of Independent Architects) in order to maintain the CLAEU liaison function between member countries and non-member countries of the CAE. This informal body will gradually lose its usefulness and disappear when all the countries of the European Union (as well as some EFTA countries) have joined the CAE.

When we talk about the construction of the Architects' Europe, we must not forget the importance of the launch of the European ERASMUS exchange program in 1990.
But that's not all, since in the East, the Architects Council of Central and Eastern Europe (ACCEE) appeared in 1992 and in 1995 the European chapter of the powerful American Institute of Architects (AIA) , a chapter that brings together American architects working in Europe and some European architects working in the USA.

More specific relations between certain countries are also established, in particular with the signature of the EUROKA Partnership Charter in 1993 between the national or regional orders of the seven border regions of the Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate Länder, the provinces of Liège and Luxembourg, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the regions of Alsace and Lorraine. The same year, the welcoming of some thirty Bulgarian architects in Charleroi was welcomed by Jacques Depelsenaire (who recently disappeared): office visits and courses related to the liberal practice were organized for them (the Dutch-language architects also establish similar contacts with the Baltic countries).

Another initiative: at the end of the nineties, delegates from the French-speaking Brabant Council (and to a lesser extent from Flemish-Brabant) actively participate in the activities of ARCE, the Association of Architects of the Capitals of Europe, which regularly gathers, informally, delegates from the relevant orders and associations.

And lastly, in July 2000, the "European Forum for Architectural Policies" (FEPA), which brings together representatives of ministries, professional organizations and cultural institutes, is launched in Paris and aims to encourage the exchange of information. views and experiences and to implement concrete actions and common tools.

New services and new worries

These changes in the national and international landscape do not for all that forget the more concrete services: thus in 1992, the National Council of the Order begins the publication of its "Green Binder" which gathers the texts of reference of the profession (a useful document which has unfortunately been abandoned since). A year later is the release of the No. 1 Architext, the new CNOA information sheet that replaces A+ News.

In 1993, CNOA President Bert Robaye launched the project to create a National Institute of Architecture (INA) bringing together all the components of the profession (College, Associations, Educational Institutes and Cultural Organizations). To prepare this project, a consultation between the Order and the FAB, called COLOCO (Coordination-Logistics-Communication) will carry out a thorough investigation on existing professional structures but the INA will not see the day because of the usual parochialism that has always blocked so many generous initiatives.

The year 1993 is also for the Order the opportunity to organize the many events related to its 30 ° anniversary.
At a party hosted by the Brabant Council, a series of architects receive for the first time the titles of Cadet or Laureate of Work. Georges Vranckx is even awarded the Deans of Honor of Labor Award in recognition of his important commitment to the defense of the profession, both nationally and internationally. This initiative due to the impetus of Yves Castiaux, which should have been organized again after 5 or 6 years will be renewed in 2006.

The CNOA remains very active during this period since it approves the "Recommendation on the Implementation of Article 15 of the Rules of Professional Conduct" (Compulsory Insurance) and publishes, in 1994, (on the initiative of Jan Ketelaer) "The profession of architect in Belgium - Economic profile" based on a survey carried out within the profession and which provides a large amount of interesting and unpublished information.

But architects must continue to face external threats, be it at the national level with the opposition campaigns against the Administration of Urban Planning and Development in the provinces of Namur, Liège and Luxembourg, then Walloon Brabant or at the European level with the reaction of the CAE to the very critical report Atkins "Strategic Study on the Construction Industry" commissioned by the European Commission.
A year later will still circulate alarming rumors about a dangerous Belgian law proposal on the protection of customers of architects while a marketing campaign of the engineering company Tractebel, will be badly felt by many architects who consider that architecture is presented as a gadget annex to the study of engineering.

During 1994, several Brussels architectural firms had been investigated for some of their employees who were considered "bogus self-employed" and had been threatened with very high fines: briefings will be organized and the Order will offer its legal support to the concerned colleagues.
This year was also the year of the "Ordonnance sur les meublés en Région bruxelloise": intended to solve the safety problems of ‘kots’ and especially housing for immigrants, this regulation entrusts their control to voluntary architects who are paid according to an official scale .
Poorly drafted, it will be quickly revised, in particular following criticism by the UPA-BUA and the reactions of Brussels universities, large suppliers of furnished rooms. It will be quietly repealed in 2000 without having ever really been applied.
The need for a rapid response to such situations had in any case convinced the architects to structure themselves at the regional level, and in 1993 ARCH-B, a Brussels-based contact group on urban planning, emerged. representatives of councils and professional associations in the region.

A new concern also challenges architects at this time: it is about humanitarian action. It is therefore not surprising that the association "Architects Without Borders Belgium" (ArSaF) was born two years later. Over the years it will cover several projects, both abroad and in Belgium (with, in particular, the floods of the Meuse) but it will fold mainly on the Flemish side.