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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Difference between Architecture and Civil Engineer (Structural Engg)

On Saturday Ugyen, my friend who is pursuing B. Arch at Delhi University came here at CST to meet us, Rangjungpas. We shared few ideas of what is architecture and in what respect it differs from civil engineering, in particular structural engineering.  

Here are those points.

By the time we are in high school, most of us have heard the terms "architect" and "engineer". If you work in the construction industry, had college friends who studied architecture or engineering, or paid for the construction of a building, you may have also learned that design (planning) is an essential part of the building process.
However, even if we know something about architects and engineers, most people tend to "see" only the act of building.
The two functions of design and construction are required to build all except the simplest buildings.
Most people can easily grasp the basic role that an architect plays, since the results of architecture tend to be visible. However, the role of a structural engineer is a mystery even to those who are aware that engineers are involved in the building process.
In general, engineers use the results of science and mathematics to design a wide range of physical elements and systems. There are numerous types of engineers, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, aerospace, civil and structural.
A "structure" is any physical element built (constructed) by humans. The universe of structures is the complete set of physical elements constructed by people; also described as the "built environment".
Buildings are a subset of structures, which include a very wide range of physical elements, such as bridges, lighthouses, tunnels, dams, cranes and even airplanes.
Effective use of science and mathematics is required to provide competent design of buildings and other structures that we depend on every day. Appropriate use of artistic imagination results in buildings and structures with pleasing appearances that enhance our existence.
Ugyen's design

Design of a building or structure involves several steps, including visualization and development of the overall concept. However, the designer (or designers) must eventually develop a set of instructions (plans, specifications) to define the physical parts of the building to be constructed by the builder.
Architects and structural engineers often work together, particularly for design of buildings. Though schooling and responsibilities overlap, each profession is unique.
Key Differences between Architect and Structural Engineer
Differences between architects and structural engineers are best explained by describing the role and practice of each professional. However, key differences are summarized;
  1. Architects are generally responsible for design of buildings used primarily for everyday use by people. Structural engineers are responsible for design of a wide range of structures, such as bridges and power plants, for which an architect is not usually involved.
  2.  Architects are responsible for design of the building shape, layout and appearance. Structural engineers are responsible for design of the building elements (foundations, columns, beams) that support all other building elements.
  3. In general, the results of architecture are visible when the building is completed. In general, the results of engineering for buildings are not visible after construction.
  4. When the owner hires an architect, the architect manages the overall design process. For buildings, structural engineers most often works for the architect. In general, the architect defines parameters (criteria) that the structural engineer must use for design of the structural elements.
  5. The structural engineer uses relatively complex mathematics and computer software for design. The architect uses graphical techniques primarily, along with basic math.
  6. In college, much of architectural education is derived from art and art history. Coursework for the structural engineer is based almost entirely in science and mathematics.


  1. Felt like sitting in introduction to SA class :). Many of my friends still think that i am Architect though I keep telling them That I am Structural Engineer ...Nice write up!! Thanks for sharing

  2. well....each has its own beauty.......architecture is a skin that gives defines the beauty element supported by skeletons which are normally defined by structural engineers........and well,,m friend...architecture is not just about art and history..it is so much about many things we can have tough time to understand perhaps just like engineering..:)
    by the way..i enjoyed reading..:)

  3. @sogyel.. "in college, much of architectural education is derived from art and art history" this is what i have concluded from what my friend Ugyen said..

    @thankx Anu

  4. Architecture knows everything in general, though they are not specialized in many. In many colleges, architecture students are taught structural design till the end of their third year, so they gets general idea of building structures too. anyway bro, i am just sharing my views since i am architecture student. nice comparison, enjoyed reading.


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