Le Carré Bleu

feuille Internationale d'architecture

I.O.A. – The International Observatory of Architecture

proposal for
« European Directive for Architecture
and the Environmente »

Statement of motives
If architecture is of public interest, Member States must create the conditions so that people’s right to architectural quality is exercised. Competent specialists, architects and urban planners, should be able to fulfil their role in a satisfactory way, in the interest of all citizens. Professional practice and guarantees, the respect of rules for awarding contracts, establishing agreements for the survey and construction of buildings and for studies and operations concerning urban planning, are necessary conditions, but not sufficient, for the improvement of the quality of the built environment in Europe.
Every country must either legislate in this direction, if it doesn’t have a law on architecture, or improve the existing law, in the spirit of the directive. The law must guarantee fair play in competitions inside each country, and between citizens of different countries.

english translation from the original text approved by the O.I.A. Assembly
held in Paris, at the Finnish Institute of Culture, on November, the 8th 1997


Art. 1. LArchitecture is an expression of culture and has aesthetic, historic, social, economic and productive implications.
The quality of architectural design, the way new projects fit into the landscape, the respect for and enhancement of natural landscape and urban qualities, the complete utilisation of existing heritage, and urban renewal, all respond to public interest and are a right of every citizen.
Government authorities are responsible for safeguarding such public interest in architecture.

Art. 2 The European Union is responsible for legislation on architecture.

Member States modify their laws, in the shortest time limits, determining priorities, and, if possible, common deadlines, according to the following principles:
– architecture is an intellectual occupation (and not a service);
projects must provide the best solution according to the needs expressed by the Promoter and to the intentions set out in the programme.
– projects must provide the best solution to the problems raised.
– the quality of work is obtained by promoting transparency in the selection of architects and in the assignment of projects after a competition with high standards of requirement.
– the organisation of work must include the consultation of the real client: the user of the building.
– public administrations should encourage innovation, improvement in architectural quality and professionalism in organising competitions for projects and publishing their results,
– private Promoters who seek architectural quality through competitions might benefit from financial or tax concessions;
– in order to be the basis of the project, the Promoter’s demands must be made explicit to the architect. They must be obvious and exhaustive especially concerning functional and economic aspects;
– the project has a unitary nature and must be developed in all its phases by the same professional or with his approval.

Member States should encourage sustainable development in environmental planning..


Art. 3 In every Member State a special Council for Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment is set up alongside the competent Ministry.
The Council has twenty-one members, fourteen of which are elected from among professionals who have at least twenty years’ experience by cultural institutions and public organisations of the profession; seven are chosen among established experts in different fields, appointed by Ministerial decree.
The Council expresses opinions on norms affecting architecture, on questions concerning the profession and professional aspects of architectural education and engineering.
The Council also expresses opinions on questions that have a major impact on the territory and buildings, on the request of public administrations and local powers.
Ministers define procedures and ways of referring to the Council by separate but co-ordinated national decrees the modes of working.
Every Council designates three representatives among its members (of which one at least is an expert) to the Committee of European Co-ordination of Councils of Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment.
This Committee gives advice on norms that might affect architecture.
The Government or local authorities finance the working of the Councils.

Art. 4 Every Member State should create, if the case arises, regional or departmental Councils and determine criteria for their composition and functioning. It should also promote the creation of forums for debate among citizens, experts and administrations, about changes in the city and environmente.


Art. 5 In the present directive, which concerns architecture, by “promoter” is meant every physical person or legal entity who commissions an architect (in compliance with art. 11).

Art. 6 Whoever requires a project to undertake the construction of a building or to introduce changes to the landscape, must use the services of an architect (in compliance with article 11) with or without the contribution of specialists in other disciplines.
Member States might establish that it is not compulsory to consult an architect for works concerning interior organisation in existing buildings, exclusive of protected buildings for their historic, artistic or environmental value.

Art. 7 Construction methods and their variants – industrialised or non-industrialised – liable to frequent use, must be agreed upon by an architect (in compliance with article 11), independently of the type of Promoter using them.

Art. 8 The economic risks incurred by the architect should not exceed the risks ensuing directly from the assignment he has been given.
The Promoter is obliged to take out an insurance policy for his project.

Art. 9 Public administrations cannot assign simultaneously or successively the same project to different architects without a valid motive, to be submitted to the approval of the special Council (cf Art.3).
Any modification to the project or enlarging of works subsequent to construction, must be proposed to the author of the initial project.

Art. 10 The special Councils (cf Art.3) define the rules of protecting the Promoter’s rights and economic interests.


Art. 11 In compliance with this directive, an architect is a physical person or legal entity authorised to practice architecture by the directives of the European Union and the legislation of every Member State.
The present directive refers to the definition of the role and competency of architects, set out by the Advisory Committee of the EU.
An architect’s work involves the mind and intelligence and is creative. According to the principles protecting copyright, the special Councils (cf. art.3), define the rules protecting works of architecture.
The architect (in compliance with article 11) signs the project and is responsible for it; his work is insured against possible damages to the Promoter.
Every project must be signed by all the qualified professionals who contributed to its development and are responsible for it.

Art 12 The architect practices his profession independently, in association with others, as a civil servant or a salaried employee.
He draws up the plans, supervises the works, prepares written reports, and has an advisory, supervisory, and research role.
Alongside the European Council for Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment, every physical person or legal entity authorised to practice architecture in Member States are registered in a single list, however this list is drawn up and modified by the body which represents the profession in each country.
Any legal entity wanting to practice architecture must also be registered in the European List. (cf Art.13).
The code of rules and duties binding all registered persons will be laid out in every Member State by The Council for Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment, in the shortest possible time.e.

Art. 13 Architects may set up companies of architects. These companies may take the form of:
– professional or interprofessional civil companies
– limited or joint-stock corporations or companies.
When a company of architects is a joint-stock or limited corporation or company it must observe the following rules :
1. the actions of the company must be nominative
2. the architects must be the majority share-holders
3. the entry of a new partner is subordinate to the acceptance of the general meeting which decides with a majority of two thirds
4. no partner may possess more than 50% of shares
5. the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Managing Director (if there is only one), at least the half of the Managing Directors, and the majority of the members of the Board of Directors, must be architects.

Art. 14 In order to promote and protect the quality of his work and of the product, the architect is entitled to a fair payment, considering that his work is an intellectual occupation (and not a service).
The Committee of European Coordination of the CAUE will fix some general principles
The minimum level of payment and of indemnities paid to the architect, is defined and established by the category of works independently of the type of Promoter.
The amount of payment must take into consideration the cost of insurance. In organising insurance Member States must guarantee that premiums are proportional to professional fees.
Contracts stipulating that the payment of fees may be conditioned by decisions or events outside the control or independent of the will of the Promoter and the professional, are not valid.
The time limits granted to the architect for the different phases of the project must be reasonable (overall, about the half of time of the execution of works) and proportional to the complexity of the work.
Any changes to a project in progress implies a modification of the contract and supplementary fees.

Art. 15 The architect may be given the task to certify the correctness of his project or of some points of the project when the control body has defined the rules and procedure.


Art. 16 Member States encourage or define as compulsory, in certain situations, the procedure to be adopted in competitions for the awarding of government contracts.
The different types of competition and their types of organisation are subject to the approval of the special Council of Architecture, Town Planning and the Environment (cf.Art 3).
Competitions are open to all registered architects without justification of turnover.
Competitions based, even partially, on reductions in fees or professional repayments are forbidden. Similarly, competitions based, even partially, on reductions in the time allowed for the project are also forbidden.

Art. 17 The organisation of competitions in Member Countries is founded on the following principles :
– mention of all clauses of the organisation in the competition announcement (repayment of expenses to the participants, appointment of of examining committees, process of evaluation and composition of jury),
– transparency in the methods of selecting participants and choosing the winner
– justification of verdicts by detailed reports dealing with all the projects,
– public exhibition of the projects.
In case of abandonment of a project after a competition, the participants and the prize-winner are compensated.
An appeal procedure must exist for participants in the competition and the citizens concerned.
The organisation of a contest might be entrusted to experts or to cultural associations.

Art. 18 Government contracts are awarded in the following way :
– for contracts in which fees exceed 200.000 €, a public competition is compulsory
– for contracts in which fees range from 20.000 to 200.000 €, each Member State will establish simplified procedures in order to guarantee public information and free competition among architects, without the faculty to lower the minimum fee level,
– for contracts in which fees are lower than 20.000 €, each Member State will establish the procedure according to which contracts are awarded directly, without the obligation of a public announcement or selection by competition.


Art. 19 The project aims to define work details in order to guarantee the best way of fulfilling the Promoter’s intention according to the architect’s interpretation.
The Promoter, aided by experts in different disciplines, draws up a written document which defines the project’s objectives and the needs that it must satisfy as well as the constraints and requirements relating to social architectural, functional, technical and economic quality, how the project fits into the landscape and protection of the environment, involved in the execution and in the use of the product.

Art. 20 The committees appointed to assess the project will have to express a judgement on the structural, functional and interpretative qualities of the work and on its relationship with the surrounding environment, after an examination by technical committees which will check that the project complies with regulations.
For this purpose projects must be accompanied by pictures, photos and other illustrations which show the project in its wider context and its connection with surroundings.
The results of this procedure must be easily accessible to the public.

conclusion The present project is the germ of an idea which should be developed through the involvement of all OIA members and in other places of debate. Nevertheless, we are proposing it to the competent authorities as a way of setting the process in motion.