Investigating the role of client learning for successful architect-client relationships on private single dwelling projects

Jessica Pooi Sun Siva, Kerry London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This research investigates the widening gap between architects and clients and the associated problems in the management of their relationship. Drawing theory from sociological and psychological perspectives, it demystifies the architect-client relationship by providing an account of how the profession's endeavour to maintain social distinction by creating silent boundaries around itself has led to an increased distancing between the architectural community and those clients not trained as professional architects. It raises several questions: to what extent can the boundaries between the architect and client be blurred? What is it about some relationships that are an enabler for success? Are there characteristics that underpin successful relationships? Using the narrative enquiry approach, eight in-depth interviews were conducted across five case studies of successful architect-client relationships, revealing ways in which clients effectively dealt with uncertainties on projects. The findings demonstrate that successful architect-client relationships are characterized by client learning and that over the course of the relationships architects supported clients to learn new skills, helping them overcome difficulties faced on projects. One of the most significant outcomes is that it demonstrates the potential of facilitating client learning to contribute to the development of successful architect-client relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
JournalArchitectural Engineering and Design Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Architect-client relationships
  • Case studies
  • Client behaviour
  • Client management


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