The Role Of The Architect in Durable Building Delivery
“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.”
– John Ruskin
The above quote captures the essence of our previous article, The Economic Dynamics of Durable Buildings. It x-rayed the concept of building durability with respect to the economic benefits we stand to derive by ensuring durable building delivery. It also briefly explained the realistic route to the attainment of durable buildings as well as listed the professionals saddled with the responsibility of achieving same. In today’s article, we shall be considering the role of one of the Built Environment Professionals – The Architect.
Who is an Architect?
According to the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, an architect is a professional who is qualified to design and provide advice – both aesthetic and technical – on built objects in our public and private landscapes. He is the go to person when it comes to all matters relating to the functions, utility and looks of buildings and some other facilities in our environment. The same way we look up to the doctor for direction in all matters relating to our health, the architect is the resource person when it comes to our buildings. They are both academically and psychological equipped to handle all matters relating to the design of our dream houses.
Functions of an Architect
The architect through rigorous professional training is equipped to present, develop and execute creative building design ideas, which satisfy public safety and regulatory requirements, to clients. In pursuit of this objective, the architect can perform any or all of the following functions:
The first role of an architect is to take a client’s brief (interview the clients to understand what they want). The architect will then generate design ideas (sketches) that will satisfy both client and statutory requirements and present same to the client for approval. This is an iterative process which involves the successive production of creative and aestheticaly appealling sketches by the architect for the client’s approval. The process is only terminated when the client and the architect are satisfied with the design.
Construction Contract Administration
Depending on the type of building procurement system adopted, the architect can be engaged by the client to manage the entire process. In such cases, the architect will invite the other built environment professionals whose services may be required during the design phase. Also in traditional building procurement system, the architect will invite qualified and reputable building contractors to bid for the building construction project. He/She will then recommend the most suited building contractor to the client for engagement.
Shop Drawing Production
Here the architect aims at capturing the client’s approved design on paper. While doing this he, in conjunction with other built environment professionals, checks the buildability (feasibility of building) of such designs. After which they then produce the technical drawings that would be used during the building construction phase. It should be noted that in the production of the shop drawings, the architect ensures that all regulatory and natural laws are strictly complied with.
In some cases architects are engaged to supervise construction works in order to ensure that the architectural working drawings are strictly adhered to by the contractor. In such situations, major milestones must be signed off by the architect before any payments are made to the contractor.
The Architect’s Contribution to Durable Building Delivery
Production of Ageless Designs
Buildings must not only be physically durable, they must also be socially durable. By social durability we mean a building’s ability to withstand the change in societal taste over an appreciable period. By their training, architects are empowered to produce designs that are not just presently appealing. They achieve this by first reviewing the history and identifying trends in building designs of different cultures. From there they can identify sustainable trends which will now aid them, coupled with creativity and ingenuity, to produce durable (sustainable) building designs.
Designing for Energy Efficiency
Room orientation (positioning of rooms relative to the position of the sun at different times of the day) is a very important factor in determining how long the occupants of any giving house will stay comfortably in that house. A house with proper room orientation will afford the occupants maximum comfort which will increase the probability of their residing in the house for a very long period. On the contrary, an improper room orientation will make the house inhabitable and hence prone to abandonment and consequent demolition with its attendant economic losses to both the society and the owners. Proper ventilation is another factor that architects look into when designing an energy efficient building.
Materials Selection for Durable Building Delivery
The materials used in the finishing of any building will determine the degree of degradation occasioned by use or the environment. When high quality locally available materials are selected by architects, they tend to reduce the impact of the environment on the building thereby increasing its durability. On the other hand, low quality materials, though cheap to procure, will only make the building susceptible to the environment and hence increase its rate of degradation. For instance, a poor quality plaster over an external building wall, instead of protecting the wall from rain, will absorb the rain water and release same to the blocks thereby weakening them.
Supervising for Durable Building Delivery
When durable and energy efficient designs are produced and high quality finishing materials are specified, there is the need to monitor the building construction process to ensure strict adherence to specifications. Hence the role of the architect in ensuring durable building delivery will be incomplete without supervision of design building works.
Benefits of Hiring an Architect
There many benefits clients can derive by engaging the services of an architect. These include:
- Since architects are the only professionals trained to produce aesthetically and functionally standard buildings, engaging one is the only guarantee to get value for your money.
- Architects are very creative people and as a result they can always guarantee you that unique design that meets your taste and style.
- Managing the building construction process is very time consuming, hence engaging architects, builders, engineers or construction managers to help in the management will enable you focus on more productive ventures.
- In the traditional building procurement system, the professional architect is the dependable client representative who ensures that your interest is always protected.
- Architects are most of the times out of the box thinkers, hence you can always count on them to present you with exotic building designs.
- Being highly professionally trained, you can always count on the architect’s professional advice.
- With the advent of sustainable building design philosophy, architects are now more equipped to produce building designs than can last for generations.
- With their knowledge of building materials, architects can specify finishings that will not only stand the test of time, but also be pocket friendly.
- With the professional architect on site, you are sure that the works under execution will conform with the design.
- With Conflicts and issues prevalent in construction projects, clients need the services of professional architects to manage such conflicts.