The skills, tools and processes we require to support design is a multifaceted challenge. They are constantly being tested, acted on and re-imagined, from the complexity of support for hardware and software to allow us to draw and manage our projects, keeping up to date with an ever expanding technical and statutory requirements to prompting and promoting our design thinking.
As you can imagine this is potentially an overwhelming list of activities, interests and focuses. We have re-imagined this disparate cluster of subjects in a more graspable form - the quarterly magazine rather than a schedule of responsibilities. The magazine format enables us to reach out in a stimulating way. It is not possible for one person to hold understand and be expert in everything. So whilst ensuring for each interest, there is a centre of responsibility, sharing is how we all can be conversant if not expert on the broadest range of issues. The magazine format gives us this framework.
So what are the headlines from this quarters design magazine?
The big change out there is the requirement for every project to have a principal designer. When the Health and Safety Executive announced the transition they set a date at the beginning of October 2015 for this transition to be effected. A lot of thought across the industry has been focussed on the issue. It is not definitive as to who should take it on, the architect engineer or project manager but the clear direction is it will not not be the role of the former CDMC. Although the name and line of command are changing the requirements are similar - building the skills, knowledge, experience and critically cooperation with all members of the team in planning, managing and coordinating the identification and elimination of risks. A helpful traffic light awareness test has been established to help map a route through this issue.
A watching brief is being kept on achieving the government's ambition for level 2, Building Information Modelling compliance (BIM for short) and all by 2016, whereby how we draw our buildings assumes a collaborative sharing between parties in a project - with the future aspiration of a central model. Much has been talked about in economic circles of the lack of increase in productivity. This is one example where increased standards are leading the way in prompting such improvements to productivity and investment in hardware, software and training.
Building standards, ensuring our buildings are up to scratch, is a parallel measure of the state of play of the industry. There is a current desire to reduce red tape and yet still meet our energy conservation objectives. It is not straightforward and often the implications of decisions are not fully worked through. An example highlights this. As we have made our buildings more airtight to save energy so inadvertently we have increased the amount of CO2 and CO in the internal air. Why? Well residents following the prescription to save energy have tended not to open windows at all, creating another problem, now to be dealt with the introduction of CO2 monitors and CO2 detectors. It won't end there as no doubt automatic openers might be required in the future.
And of course there is how we play. Looking back to 19th century history there was an enjoyable marriage of practicality and delight in the form of the decorative patina overlaid our buildings. 20th century pragmatism won out in the end so it is nice to say at the Glasgow Academy we have been allowed to experiment with an overlay of information designed as decoration from colour coding, quotations, cartoon science, to numbering. The building has become an aesthetic template for information transfer, not in the oblique symbols of the past but in the spirit of the super informative contemporary graphic.