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UPA-BUA Union Professionnelle d'Architectes
Beroepsunie Van Architecten

Relations between the Order and the associative world

Initially, it should be remembered that it was the professional associations that, from the end of the 19th century, mobilized to obtain protection for the title and practice of the profession of architect (by pooling their efforts within the FAB created in 1905), which led to the 1939 law. This law instituted the monopoly, which has since been regularly questioned by the other partners in the act of building (and particularly contractors and promoters) but also by some architects who would prefer to be able to practice architecture in a more flexible framework (allowing them to function as promoters of their projects).

The creation of the Order, in 1963, also thanks to the action of the associative world, however, had the consequence of weakening the latter by draining it of its vital forces:

- because many architects confuse the role of the Order (which is at the service of society) with that of professional associations (which are at the service of architects) and do not see the point of becoming a member, on a voluntary basis, of an association ;

- because the Order has more means (financial, logistical), which attracts architects who want to commit themselves to the profession (and who can benefit from attendance fees while the associative action is voluntary).

However, although in theory its raison d'être and mission is to establish a code of ethics and to ensure the honour, discretion and dignity of its members, in practice the turn-key approach often prevails and disciplinary sanctions are rare. The corporatist and confidential spirit does not shine by its transparency. However, it sets the fees it wants because architects are obliged to pay it to practice their profession.

The existence of these two types of structures, however, has the effect of giving a confused image of the professional structures, particularly in relation to the public and the political world (which does not always know who it should address), and of dispersing the available means. In some cases and with regard to certain questions, these structures are even opposed to each other (sometimes with "community" differences, in particular because many representatives of the Flemish Order are affiliated to the NAV)?

Following certain initiatives (such as that of President Robaye in 1993) or on occasion questioned (such as that of the splitting of the Order), certain proposals for collaboration or the organisation of consultation (through the setting up of specific bodies) or even regrouping have been put forward, but unfortunately they have not really come to fruition.

 

Chronicle of the (sometimes agitated) relations between the Order and the associative world during the last three decades

1990 : Creation of the "Vlaamse Overleg", a body that regularly brings together representatives of the Flemish Order Councils and professional associations.

1991 : "Etats Généraux des Architectes francophones" are organised in Liège by SAF. The conclusions of this interesting day will be long to gather and little followed up. The "Etats Généraux" are also organised on the Flemish side, in Louvain, under the impetus of Jan Ketelaer, member of the UPA, former President of the BVA, who has since become President of the CNOA.

1993 : The President of the CNOA, Bert Robaye, launches the project to create a National Institute of Architecture (INA) bringing together all the components of the profession (Order, associations, teaching institutes and cultural organisations), following a consultation between the Order and the FAB, called COLOCO (Coordination-Logistic-Communication) drawn up by Eddy Vanzieleghem who carries out a survey of professional structures.

1994 : Judgment of 28 October 1994 which cancels the modulated membership fee following an action brought by the Forum of Architects. In its reasoning, this judgment refers in particular to the fact that the money collected was not always allocated and was used to build up an unnecessary reserve. Despite the fact that the judgment does not rule on the merits, the Order prefers to abolish this method of calculating the membership fee, which many (young) architects will later regret.

1995 : Creation of a consultation body between the different professional bodies (Order, associations): the CPO (Concertation Permanente - Permanente Overleg). This body will meet more or less regularly thereafter, on the initiative of the presidents of the CNOA.

2003 : Evening of the 40th Anniversary of the Order. This evening was the culmination of meetings to reflect on the French-speaking side (meetings bringing together representatives of the 4 "pillars" of the profession: the Order, professional associations, teaching and the media) and the Dutch-speaking side (a thematic symposium was organised in each of the 5 provinces).

2004-2005 : The "Action Communes des Associations d'architectes francophones et germanophones de Belgique" (which brings together the AAMs (Mons), the AABW (Brabant wallon), the AAPL (prov. Luxembourg), the A-B, the ARAC (Charleroi), the ARAHO (Tournai), the ARALg (Liège), the SRAVE (Verviers) and the UPA-BUA) organised two days of conference and work under the title "Le barème ! Et après ?..."

2004 : On March 10, the La Cambre Institute of Architecture presents its white paper on contemporary architecture in Belgium " Qui a peur de l’architecture ?", produced on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, thanks to a grant from the French Community. This document, written by a group that does not include representatives of professional bodies, contains 13 recommendations: 12 of them are petitions of general principles, while the 10th recommends reviewing the representativeness and functions of the Order of Architects and considering the abolition or limitation of the monopoly. This very offhand stance offends the associative world.

2013 : On December 19th, a "last chance" meeting bringing together representatives of the Order and associations in front of representatives of the 8 parties involved in the reform of the State. During this meeting, the associative world exposes its opposition to the regional chambers as representatives of the entire profession, particularly on issues which, according to them, fall outside the Order's missions. Following this meeting, the CfgOA decided to no longer invite the representatives of AriB (Architects in Brussels) to the meetings of the Brussels Chamber. The Union Wallonne des Architectes is leaving the Chambre Wallonne (notably because it is the Order that sets the agenda for its meetings). These chambers, initially intended to be consultation bodies, become professional action bodies dependent solely on the Order (which goes beyond its legal missions).

2015 : In spring, following a démarche by NVA senators, discussions on the reform of the Order between government representatives and professional bodies: the professional associations and the Vlaamse Raad share the same point of view on refocusing the Order's activities on its legal missions, while the CfgOA advocates a broadening of its missions.

2020 : The latest attempts to relaunch a possible reform of the Order have failed because of this persistent divide.