Ability

/ Paul Sutton / City & Land

Design quality is paramount. The practice pursues quality through careful and creative thinking constantly building on our existing expertise and disseminating it throughout the office. There are a whole raft of measures of that expertise - the ability to deliver - such as capability, reliability, sustainability. Of course these measures are a moving target and we reflected on a number of new abilities we need to expand our skill base. Three novel 'abilities' stood out in our operations review, how we work together, the tools we work with and what we do with them.

For the first we have invented the term, ‘interwirability'. We have drawn up a diagram showing how we work together and the interrelationship between one another as captured in our business model. It makes a powerful diagram, take out any one relationship, unplug a wire connection and the ability to deliver is weakened, whether it is to do with our health and safety procedures, review processes, operational activities, creative output - in fact every aspect of our practice. Abstracting the business relationship between us all into a tangible diagram reinforces the obvious inter personal dialogue that makes any business work.

‘BIMability’ then is about the tools we use. We are constantly creating new tools to deliver what we do. We need to adapt to changing contexts, whether in materiality, process or activity, some indeed set by government edict such as levels of building information modelling. Our BIM compliance in the form of our adoption of Revit modelling with now 33 Revit stations is an exciting and exhilarating journey. We are at the beginning of a process of massive improvement in our ability to determine and integrate our work with our fellow consultants, clients and contractors. We can even load these massive digital models onto our iPads and travel around with them, neat replacements for the ubiquitous roll of drawings of the past.

And to what end? Well how about ‘well-beingability’. Ultimately our processes are about delivery of good environments for us all. To do that we need not only to deliver efficient and integrated environments but enriched, delightful, inspirational and sensitive places to live, work and enjoy. There is no direct measure for the assessment of such quality. Measurement seems to be always one step removed. How can we measure the intuitive, spiritual and experiential, that makes up our well-being? Perhaps through our treasured client feedback? We need to move the desire to create and nurture special environments away from the vulnerability of just being nice to have, open to the persistent threat of ‘value-engineering'.

We are adding our new design ability set to our present arsenal of skills. ‘Interwirability’, how we work together, ‘BIMability’, what the tools we use and ‘well-beingabilty’, the human focus of our endeavours.

'Interwirability'