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Practice of Architecture in Zambia – Public Notice

The general public is informed that it is a crime to provide Architectural Services in Zambia in a manner contrary to the provisions of the Zambia Institute of Architects Act No 36 of 1995 (Cap 442) and Statutory Instrument No 106 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia.

With reference to the aforementioned act only Architects and Architectural Firms registered with the Zambia Institute of Architects are allowed to offer and provide Architectural Services to the general public. Consequently the public is advised to relate only with members of the Zambia Institute of Architects for such services.

Those found to be in breach of the above mentioned laws will be prosecuted. For more information the public is advised to contact the Zambia Institute of Architects’ Secretariat on telephone no 0211 254512, cell 0966 650728 or email


Practicing Architecture in Zambia

A Practicing Architect (or Firm) is a Registered Architect offering their Architectural Service to the public. In order to practice, a Practicing Certificate or Licence is issued to a Registered Architect by ZIA after complying with the relevant and necessary requirements. The Act also provides a Code of Professional Ethics and Conduct that prescribes how Registered Architects and Firms are expected to conduct themselves when practicing and generally offering their service to the public. For instance, like Lawyers and Medical Practitioners, Architects are not permitted to directly advertise their services to the public but generally rely on their ability and achievement to market themselves.

ZIA has published a Zambian Hand Book of Practice for Architects (Volume 1) which provides Architects a systematic and appropriate method of executing their services to Clients from inception through to completion. In the hand book the services of a Practicing Architect are structured into two sections namely Job Running and Contract Administration.

Job Running explains the documentation and procedures that are involved from inception or commission of a project with the Client right through to Project hand over and review at completion. The Contract Administration section provides practical guidance on the administering of the building contract which is the agreement between the Client and a Contractor giving rise to obligations to each other enforceable at law. For private projects the hand book recommends the use of the JLC Standard Form of Building Contract while for government projects the GC Works Form of Contract is used.  

A Practicing Architect has the direct and individual responsibility to faithfully and diligently carry out his or her duties undertaken in accordance with the terms of engagement with their Client. Architects also have a third party duty of care to persons expected to use or enjoy buildings and facilities designed by them. For example an Architect has a duty of care to provide an access ramp for use by the disabled on wheel chairs even on privately owned buildings. It is for this reason that Architects like Lawyers and Medical Practitioners are expected to practice under the Sole Proprietary or Partnership Type of Business and not as Limited Liability Companies. With the general appreciation of who an Architect is and what it takes to practice Architecture in Zambia follow up articles will explore the tools and standard documents that are available for an Architect to practice their profession and effectively serve their Clients and the public in general.


A Career in Architecture

Dennis Nyekele MZIA
Practice Matters

Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and the person who practices Architecture is called an Architect. Architects ensure that the buildings they design are functional, safe, and meet the needs of the people who will use them.

Architects also assist their Clients in selecting suitable contractors for their building and during construction they inspect the works to ensure that the builders strictly follow the design and specified materials as well as meeting the acceptable work quality standards. In Zambia the practice of Architecture is regulated by the Zambia Institute of Architects under Cap 442 of the Laws of Zambia.

The history of Architecture goes back thousands of years ago, when man created primitive shelters for protection from the environment. However with the environmental concerns becoming more and more important to many, most Architects now ensure that their buildings have as much reduced impact on the environment as possible, both at design and during the construction stages and when is use after completion.


An Architect is engaged by a Client to design buildings who give the Architect an idea of what he wants. He then starts the designing process where some Architects use old fashioned pencils and tracing papers during this process, while most them now use some type of computer aided design (CAD) software.

In Zambia the Copperbelt University (CBU) offers a five year Bachelors of Art Degree in Architecture. The O level subjects generally required to pursue the Architectural programme are English, Maths, Geography and some Sciences. Background in Technical Drawing may provide an advantage but is not necessarily a requirement.

The degree programme includes courses in Architectural History and Theory, Building and Environmental Design, Structures, Building Technology and Construction Methods, Professional Practice, Analytical Maths and Surveying. Cardinal to the Architectural programme is the Design Studio, where students apply principles and theories learnt in the other courses to present design concepts, drawings and three-dimensional models of their projects.

After completion a Graduate Architect undergoes internship training for at least two years under the supervision of a Registered Architect. This is necessary for one to be considered for registration by ZIA. The Graduate Architect is thereafter expected to sit for the Professional Competence Examination after which they are admitted to the Institute.

Employment opportunities for Architects are available at Private Practicing Firms, Buildings Department, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, National Housing Authority, National Heritage and many Other Parastatal Organisations like ZNBS. One can also set up their own Firm or join existing practising architects to set up Partnerships.


ZIA Honorary Treasurer (2014 -16)


Moving Foward Together: A Sustainable Way Foward for the Architectural Profession

In Zambia, as well as in the rest of Africa, western materials and construction techniques are rapidly replacing traditional ones, even in remote areas of the country. Traditional materials and construction techniques have connotations of being substandard with a significant number opting to use imported materials and even foreign consultants. With the influx of Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages , globalisation and architect collaborations with international clientele, it is evident that in just a few generations traditional techniques will continue not to be passed on to future generations and this part of Zambian culture could only a memory.

The Future of Design Incorporating 

Nature using a Taxonomy

Taxonomies are based on organizing things with shared characteristics. Zambia has a rich culture with 73 tribes existing peacefully and a tremendous mixing of cultures, which includes a mixing of architectural styles. These should be preserved via documentation and understanding why these traditional architectural relations work. It is imperative to see that traditional materials have the strength, comfort and beauty of modern applications. Once we discover and expose the content and context of all the current designs, this would inform all the next designs. A change in perception has the potential of supporting a vernacular architecture. Adding context to taxonomies reveals not only what things are, but also expresses what they are for, what they do, and how they work. People must be convinced that these structures are safe, structurally sound, beautiful and less expensive in the long run. Only then will people build in the vernacular, which is close to nature and is region specific.

The embracing of vernacular architecture with keeping at par with advancements in CAD can sustain-ably lead Zambia into the future.

Nature fundamentally designs by taking the best existing solution to a problem and iterating. The future of architecture is approaching an age where the entire building team, which could be based in several countries and of diverse disciplines can operate seamlessly as though they are under one roof by using the same Building Information Model (BIM) and infinite cloud computing, where one change in one area of the 3D model proposed by any member of building team, will simultaneously initiate a change in all associated consultant drawings whether it be structural, bill of quantities, mechanical or interior design views. Globally technology is heading towards the sophistication levels of nature, where instead of starting a design project from scratch, we could start by accessing every design, schematic, asset, and idea that has ever been created, to help solve one particular unprecedented design challenge. This can be done if we have a (3D) digital library to refer to, as being done presently in some mega western cities, with the aim to better plan future urban developments, while integrating daily, monthly, seasonal and annual data.

Real-time rendering, such as with Twinmotion, allows the client to virtually walk around their proposed structures, test out their kitchen space or virtually walk around the presidential suite of a new five star hotel, months or years before constructions are complete on site.

Added to this BIM models would be able to reference local mechanical engineering textbooks, building codes, supplier catalogues and real world examples, to solve our construction problems using our context, rather than coping and pasting foreign ideas.

Let CAD Do More of the Work for You

Zambian designs need to explore all of the solutions that optimize performance for our local conditions. CAD system eLearning and installation files can be found online at times for free. Added to this investments in conferences, such as the annual Autodesk University (AU) conferences, where over 16,000 attended last year (#AU2014), representing at least 74 countries around the world. Zambian designs need to evolve. But first we have to stop “telling the computer what to do,” and instead, start “telling the computer what we want to achieve.” With Generative Design, by giving the computer a set of parameters that express your overall goals, the system will use algorithms to explore all of the best possible permutations of a solution through successive generations, until the best one for that particular typology and situation is found.

Create Living Designs that Sense, Respond and Collaborate

Zambia, like the world, is constantly changing and yet our designs are dead designs or planned obsolescence that are not keeping up with these changes. The current solution, as with everything that is no longer useful, is to just throw out the old and bring in a new building. The fundamental difference is that the things we design now and make in the future must do three things: Sense, Respond, and Collaborate. A lot of people would call this the Internet of Things. Because the term implies a false hope of an emergent experience, what we really need is a “Community of Things” — a collection of individual entities designed to actively and purposefully work together. Incorporating climate, culture, available resources. Consequently the building team will set the stage for future generations to reach their potential sustainability.

Combine Nature and Technology

Looking ahead, our co-opting of Nature will eventually become more of a two-way cooperation, as the twin engines of technology and Nature are increasingly inter-twined, in a mutually beneficial dynamic. This is just the beginning. There are whole territories ahead where we can take Nature’s strengths and extend them with technology’s power: creating things that transcend the limits of both. Let us encourage continued learning and research in the field. On the one hand this sounds like some fairly mind-bending concepts, but on the other hand when we look closely around the globe, we can see that it has already started. The well designed built environment has the ability to promote health and well being, improve social norms and boost the economy. As a building team, it’s our job build today in our minds one click at a time, the Zambia we want to see tomorrow.

Chilombe Simwami MZIA, MSc, BSc Hons


What is safety to you?

Regardless of your profession in the construction industry or other industries alike, Safety by definition will vary from one individual to another but what stays the same is the need to keep the workforce safe from harm’s way so as to keep production running at full capacity as well as a means to stay clear of lawsuits which can be costly to foot through legal charges and compensations.

Personally, safety when simply put is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE, hereafter), or at least that is the first step. PPE is an ensemble of “adult-ware” gear worn by workmen so as to provide them with some level of protection from potential hazards which might exist within or around their work space.

Since construction is an equally sensitive industry, most if not all professions within this industry and other industries alike are required to provide PPE for their entire workforce in order to keep them safe as this ultimately translates into high production.

In my profession of an architect though; Work suits, Hard hats, Safety gloves and Safety boots is what amounts to PPE. Other professions especially those of the heavy duty kind will go on to demand for Safety goggles and a Respirator.

Safety Gloves
Work suits come in various sizes to fit various body sizes, from small to extra, extra large. These suits now come specially tailored for the two sexes of male and female, and they also come in distinct and copyright colours; which alone means that most establishments have corporate colours to identify each other by. My employers have lime green to identify their employers by and orange to identify firms contracted to them. Work suits are striped with a deep luster on the surface about the knees of the trousers and about the arms of the coat for enhanced visibility at whatever time of the day.

Hard hats on site are a must-have, and they should be made available to everyone present – especially near the work area – from the workforce to visitors. Hard hats provide protection to the head from falling objects so as to avoid head injuries.

Safety gloves might rarely be used on construction sites due to not attracting as much attention as the other gear do, but they are just as important, and like any other pair of gloves, these give protection to the hands and wrist area from cuts, abrasions and other hand injuries that might be caused during handling, i.e. handling of concrete works and handling of steel works. Because of what safety gloves have to handle, they are made of material with a rough texture for better gripping.

Protection to the foot area is offered by Safety boots from falling objects and from stepping onto sharp objects as and when carelessly placed on site. It would however be worth noting that safety boots need to be high tops (ankle highs if you will), and with a metal brace at the front of the boot for better protection since the main area of protection are the joints.

For works with small flying pieces that might be harmful to the eyes and the face generally, Safety goggles are recommended. These are only effective as when used on select types of projects. A pair fresh off the shelf will come with it rubber brackets to hang around the neck for support.

With the respirator, this works better at a plant or a mine. It is often used on works with high grime generation levels to shield the workman from inhaling contaminants. Regardless of the name, the respirator does not supply oxygen; therefore it is best used in a work space with generous oxygen supply so as to avoid suffocation.

Remember, safety at the work place ought to be of the utmost importance because a healthy workforce translates into a high return on the production and lawsuits are avoided.

Ngonga Kapalu



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