Architecture / June 7, 2018 / .
The site topography i.e. the natural site features, ground conditions and obstructions, existing and adjoining building, and underground and over-ground services all impact on how the building is designed and subsequently constructed. The nature of each site must be individually checked to establish potential problems. Greenfield developments cost less than brownfield sites which may incur significant demolition, site clearance and remediation costs. Heavily sloped sites require extensive stepping or cut and fill operations and such sites may be dangerous and adversely affect the working conditions and productivity of operatives and plant output. Sites with poor loadbearing capacity will require more expensive foundations while exposed or waterlogged sites will also reduce overall productivity. The cost of dealing with unforeseen ground conditions, archaeological finds and encountering uncharted buried services may be substantial and will be borne by either the client or contractor, depending on the form of contract employed.
The materials specified and the proposed construction details will have an important bearing on the cost of the project. The relationship of quality to cost has been commented on above, and buildings which incorporate high quality and innovative features are invariably more expensive than those which are purely functional. The choice depends on what the client is willing to pay. The materials, nevertheless, should be appropriate for their use; over-specification is wasteful.
The choice of the architect as lead designer is a key decision on any project and will reflect the clients priorities, particularly those related to cost and quality. Clients who plan to develop high quality or landmark developments often employ high profile design practices. Indeed internationally acclaimed architects including Daniel Liebskind, Santiago Calatrava and Dublin-born Pritzker prize-winning Kevin Roche have completed projects in Dublin in the recent past. The leading Irish architectural practices are likewise normally in high demand and clients are keen to buy into their signature. High expectations are usually linked to high prices and such clients will expect to pay a premium on prestigious projects. Nevertheless, they may not be prepared to provide total carte blanche to the architect. Architects, quite naturally, may be reluctant to drop quality standards and compromise their brand to reduce costs and it may difficult for the quantity surveyor to control costs in these circumstances. In this regard Ashworth refers to a cynic who described architecture as the design of beautiful buildings that satisfy only the architect and not the client. At the other end of the cost spectrum a client may require a practical, nononsense design to accommodate a production process. Such designs are often developed by architects operating within a design and build arrangement where providing an economic design is essential to winning the contract.
The notion of quality is multidimensional and includes aspects which may be appraised subjectively. The Latham Report identified a number of quality aspects which clients may seek in a satisfactory construction project: pleasing to look at; free from defects on completion; fit for the purpose; supported by worthwhile guarantees; satisfactory durability and customer delight. Several of these aspects are inherent in the design of the project, while others relate to how successfully the contractor constructs that design on site. The designers will aim to produce an effective and attractive spatial and structural solution to the clients brief. This should provide sufficient, well planned accommodation, using appropriate materials, components, equipment, fittings and furnishings to enable the building to perform effectively and efficiently. Ideally it should generate a sense of delight amongst it users and the public at large.