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The relations between the practice of design and the construction industry have historically been plagued with inefficiency and myriad conflicts. This ‘rivalry’, as some may term it, has led to many reputations being tainted, businesses and practices becoming bankrupt, and projects getting stalled or suspended. Disputes may arise due to a variety of reasons, either contractual, technical, or even perceptual differences, yet have led to creating adversarial relationships between architects and contractors.
This liaison between the construction industry and the designer may either go awry or become hampered by a host of problems during the process. Due to many entities involved in the process of building, it usually becomes prey to managerial and coordination problems. A slew of issues usually occurs, with poor management and functioning, leading to misunderstandings which only further the divide between coordination.
Instead of a linear process, the mangled process of building in our country usually harms the overall quality of the project. This can take place with a consequence of either the design intention being lost or misinterpreted, or the construction becoming of poor quality, or even both. Many times, even the client is usually caught up in disputes that further hike up the cost of the project. The designer or architect and the contractor and various consultants blame one another for changes and disputes, often leading to litigation or schedule overruns.
Moreover, a rift is created between the practice of design and the construction industry. Ideas are harder to implement, recommendations arduous to execute, and goals become more complicated to achieve. There are a host of problems that afflict both industries.
A Host of Problems
Speaking from the perspective of a designer, it is formidable to embark on projects with divergent or offbeat ideas. To only think, may not be enough to execute. This seriously limits important concerns such as environmental and material consciousness. Design thinking is also inhibited and hindered due to this divide. From the view of a contractor, it becomes difficult to interpret and implement designs well. Quality too is affected due to loss of communication of ideas. Once again, material consciousness and design details might be ignored, and environmental concerns are difficult to incorporate.
Design as a niche
Design often becomes a separate niche, with construction from the designer’s perspective, only being viewed as a necessary step in the process of building something. Meanwhile, from the perspective of the construction industry, the design is many times perceived only as a hindrance and an unnecessary liability and overcomplication. Both strive to function in tandem, yet these disputes and complications in the process pose as obstacles. This niche further leads to the address of important issues and improvement of process and cohesion, to become secondary.
Bridging the Gap
These two disciplines do not need to be vastly different, instead of collaborative problem solving and innovation would lead to ideas being more directly implementable. ‘Design-build’ is a term largely being used to define a way of looking at these two disciplines in tandem. With a single point of responsibility, both the contractor and the designer or architect work in sync from the start of a project. It is not a new way to look at this process becoming a cohesive and collaborative effort between the various roles involved in a project. As a team, concerns are addressed, and issues are solved.
Accountability and Communication
Furthermore, teamwork leads to greater accountability and greater considerations of cost and quality. Such a flow of work increases efficiency and effectiveness in the process. The process brings both design and construction to work together with a single contract. The system allows for greater involvement and accomplishment of tasks and goals. The greatest change would be achieved with better communication to increase workflow. A project usually requires many various entities with differing processes and timelines to work together in sync, which usually leads to mismanagement and chaotic situations. Both these industries need to focus vastly on collaborations and building relations to increase the efficiency of their processes. Since neither can exist without the other, decision making needs to be integrated.
Taking collaboration and integration to be keywords, the practice of design, and the construction industry in our country, can take the necessary steps to revisit goals and scope. Policy changes can also be made to introduce diverse yet necessary ways to consolidate and accommodate both these disciplines, to create greater harmony in a project. Further, shared interests and concerns have a greater probability of being addressed, and agreements and negotiations can be carved out cohesively. The development of better relationships between the various points of function in a project is extremely important for the overall success of a qualitative and fruitful project. The discipline of architecture cannot limit itself to only the creation of a standing structure but looks at the creation of spaces that benefit the users in various ways. In this day and age especially, the profession of the building cannot restrict itself to a single viewpoint. Instead, it needs to look at various interests and considerations together, and combine each entity involved to create equitable contributions to the project.