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‚ÄčOur history, Charter and Byelaws

The RIBA was founded in 1834 for ‘the general advancement of Architecture, and for promoting and facilitating the acquirement of the knowledge of the various arts and sciences connected therewith’.

We do not receive any government funding but rely on our 52,000 members, sponsors and our charitable trading operations to make our work possible.

A brief history of the RIBA

2019 Launch of the first two international offices to support and grow the global RIBA community with the Gulf office in Sharjah and China office in Shanghai.

2017 Expansion of the institute as a global organisation with the establishment of four international regions: RIBA Americas, RIBA Middle East and Africa, RIBA Europe and RIBA Asia and Australasia.

2014 Launch of London’s first architectural gallery at 66 Portland Place, free and open to the public.

2009 We celebrated our 175th anniversary with a series of events throughout the year.

1996 RIBA Stirling Prize inaugurated (televised from 2000).

1984 150th anniversary of the RIBA with the ‘monstrous carbuncle’ speech by Prince Charles at the anniversary dinner.

1960s Development of the RIBA as a regional organisation. Eastern Region office in Cambridge was first to open in 1966.

1934 Moved to current purpose-built headquarters at 66 Portland Place in central London. Opened by King George V and Queen Mary.

1894 Publication of the first RIBA Journal.

1848 Royal Gold Medal instituted by Queen Victoria.

1837 Awarded Royal Charter. Much of our early work was concerned with formulating rules for fees, practice and conduct.

1834 Institute of British Architects founded.

The Royal Charter and Byelaws


The Royal Institute of British Architects was granted its Royal Charter in 1837 by the Privy Council under King William IV. Supplemental Charters were granted in 1887, 1909 and 1925. These were subsequently revoked and replaced by a single Supplemental Charter in 1971. Following a governance review the Supplemental Charter was amended in 2020.

The purpose of the Royal Institute was set out in the original 19th century Charter, after revision in the 1971 Supplemental Charter, remains true to this day:

'… the general advancement of Civil Architecture, and for promoting and facilitating the acquirement of the knowledge of the various arts and sciences connected therewith…'


The Byelaws provide the RIBA's operational framework and are updated more frequently to keep up with the times. The current Byelaws were introduced in 2020.

Being a Royal Charter body, any revisions to the RIBA's Charter and Byelaws require the approval of the Privy Council.


The Royal Charter and Byelaws are supported by Regulations which provide greater detail on governance matters. These documents are referred to as the RIBA's constitutional documents.

The latest copies of each document can be accessed via the following links:

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