/ Andrew Paul / Places to live

A single word hung on the white wall of our crit space whilst the office congregated for our weekly meeting:


As architects, time is our stock in trade – it is a commodity and to realise it’s full value it must be used correctly. Often the most valuable contribution we make to a project is our thinking time; it is gold dust, sitting at the top of a pyramid supported by all the things that make it possible: administration, networking, drawing, site visits, meetings. With pencil in hand, these are the moments where we develop the roots of a project that will inform everything that follows. We all want more of it, but it is a finite resource, so the answer is to make it go further.

Efficiency has become a by-word for sacrifice and bean-counting. Often viewed with scepticism and disdain, the true meaning has become diluted, if not lost, through almost a decade of global financial turmoil, carrying with it a subtext of frugality and sacrifice. In the truest sense though, efficiency is about quality and effectiveness; delivering a better service that everybody can be invested in. Essentially it is about how we can do more with what we have.

Technology, as one of our principal tools, is a part of this equation and we are continually testing and developing our understanding of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to make it a part of our creative process. New possibilities lie around every corner, presenting opportunities that not only allow us to spend less time on the more mundane aspects of our craft, but to add more layers of possibility that contribute to the finished product. Integration is the key here, where less time is spent on coordination whilst the various specialisms are better understood in the context of the whole, resulting in a building that has been fully considered in every sense.

To become more efficient is a worthwhile aim, but the journey must be informed by a real understanding of how we work and where our time is spent, the goal being the same as it has always been: to do what we do, better.