Architect Katy Barker of Directline Structures says that despite the barriers to collaborative working, architects could take a leading role in Design & Build


ost people understand the premise of Design & Build procurement – a single

organisation undertakes the design, and the build, of a project. It could apply to all manner of construction projects, but how many projects are actually delivered with just the employer and the D&B contractor, with no employer’s agent, design team or consultants? Practically zero. Why? Fundamentally it boils down to two unpopular words in architecture and construction: risk and ego. Let’s go back to the concept of ‘design’

and ‘build’ as two separate areas of expertise, as is assumed with traditional procurement. Design is carried out by an architect, traditionally a creative, artistic individual or practice who can make a simple scribble on a piece of tracing paper into a work of art. Seven years of training is required to call yourself an architect and most of this is spent on developing ‘concepts’ – stories of how a scheme came to be designed drawing on all kinds of inspiration from the site, the history, the function of the building, the proposed users. All this creates the ‘why’ narrative of architectural design. You can read it in most architectural commentary, but if you are not an architect, you probably won’t fully understand.

I come to my first unpopular word: ego – defined as “your opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability.” It is instilled in architecture students, over seven years of education, that they are the most important person in the design of a building. Jump into the real world, and suddenly you’re faced with constraints on every aspect of your design; structural requirements, Building Regulations, planning legislation and most of all, cost.


You are required to be part of an ‘integrated team’ and at some point, you will have to pass your design over to a contractor who, you are sure, will not understand your vision and butcher it in the process of building it.

The role of the architect is changing. It’s not a bad thing.

Architects could be the heart of construction, if they opened themselves up to the whole process

Young people who are attracted to the big-name careers (architect and engineer) have a huge amount to offer that they aren’t getting to do as the engineer or architect, so are switching career paths to other kinds of management. So why can’t an architect also be a project manager? The role of the architect was historically the role of the master builder – the individual who had the grand plan and oversaw the whole project. Now it seems that architects are only really involved in pre-construction. When architects are inherently highly

skilled, organised, driven individuals with an eye for detail and a creative flair for understanding how the design of a place impacts the user, it is such a waste to limit their scope and not utilise their skills throughout the construction process. There’s been call for reform to architectural education and movement is happening – the results of the RIBA Education Review aren’t exactly ground breaking, but architecture apprenticeships now exist and I’m excited to see the kind of architects this creates - however the main

route to qualification still involves five years of university education instilling the same damaging and limiting preconceptions into students. The establishment is reluctant to accept that the role of the architect is changing.

Architects could be great project managers. They are already perfectly placed with input throughout the whole design and construction process, but have limited what that input is by saying ‘other people will do that’ or ‘other people are responsible for that’.

Which brings me to my next unpopular word: risk – “expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.” The construction industry is so bad at working collaboratively because there is a deeply ingrained culture of blame. Every company is focused on reducing their liability and their potential exposure to risk. While this is not a bad business strategy, it is not in the client’s – or the project’s – interests.

This culture has resulted in compartmentation of design and construction teams, and a linear design process: • the architect designs a square • the engineer designs the square’s structure • the M&E consultant fills the square with equipment

• the contractor prices the square structure filled with M&E equipment.

Has anyone questioned whether a square was the right shape? What if a rectangle was actually more cost effective and the contractor could tell you that, but he is too far down the linear process to have any input and it’s already cost £40k in consultant’s fees, the architect’s ego doesn’t like to be questioned on design decisions, and it’s too risky to change it now.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100