We have a wonderful job as designers. It is a thrill to explore the needs of any situation, test possible solutions and hone the response until that magical day the design becomes reality, shaping the lives of those who interface with it. It doesn't stop there, because monitoring the design in use is part of the learning exercise that informs our future responses.
A blend of creativity and pragmatism is required in that journey. We have internal systems to assess how well we are doing, but there is also the requirement for external audits of various kinds. Three types of external audit stand out, one type we volunteer for, the second is a hurdle we all need to learn to jump and the third is of necessity enshrined in the law.
We volunteer to have our quality management systems assessed by an external body. As part of many of our bids for projects we are asked to show that we have processes in place to test the quality and consistency of our output.
The digital management of building information, BIM for short is not a statutory requirement of practice. but the government has said that by 2016 there will be a requirement for all designers of public projects to demonstrate that they have this capability. Within a year therefore it will become a hurdle which we will have to jump to get public work.
The CDM 2015 regulations represent a statutory change of the ground rules for designers with respect to health and safety. They require us as ‘principal designer’ to take on the duties and responsibilities for assessment of risks and competency on our projects and where necessary to consider employing a specialist CDM or safety advisor.
The final part of our discussion reminded us that these systems and checks are all a means to an end – albeit a safe and efficient one. We discussed our new science and technology building project at Glasgow Academy where at each stage innovative thinking is transforming the user experience; from the meeting breakout loggias at each level, down to the details of building signage incorporating quotes and stimulating thoughts to inspire the users.
Process and inspiration may sometimes seem unlikely bedfellows, but they need each other, and we have to ensure that they are a good partnership