Client learning for successful architect-client relationships

Jessica Siva, Kerry London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper seeks to explain how clients deal effectively with challenges on private single dwelling projects by achieving learning. Design/methodology/approach - Eight in-depth interviews were conducted across five case studies of successful architect-client relationships. The narrative inquiry approach was used to establish the extent to which clients achieved learning and to describe the ways clients effectively dealt with project challenges. Findings - The findings indicate that clients achieved learning on all five case studies, enabling them to function with increasing competency over the course of projects. Client learning is a characteristic of successful relationships and is demonstrated through the following indicators: learning about the nature of the design/construction process, learning to take enjoyment in the new environment, and learning about the architectural milieu. Research limitations/implications - This research is limited to the investigation of the simplified architect-client relationship on private single dwelling projects. However, the conceptual model developed can be used to investigate relationships associated with other project types as they may offer different circumstances and challenges to the management of project relationships. Practical implications - A total of 69 per cent of architects in Australia spend some of their work time on residential projects, and therefore improvements in this area can have significant impact on a considerably large portion of the profession. Social implications - Problematic architect-client relationships resulting in the marginalisation of the profession can be detrimental to the quality of the environment. An understanding of characteristics underpinning successful architect-client relationships can thus contribute to the quality of the built environment. Originality/value - This research identified ways in which clients effectively dealt with difficulties on projects by achieving learning to achieve successful architect-client relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-268
Number of pages16
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Architect-client relationships
  • Architects
  • Architecture
  • Case studies
  • Client learning


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