Coordinating Building Design With Modern Technology

With the advent of new and smarter technology the coordination of building design by the various parties involved is making dispersed teams more efficient and effective. These days it is not uncommon to have all the agencies involved in a building’s design located across the country (or even the world). These agencies include, architects, mechanical designers, electrical designers, civils designer, structural engineers, geologists, the client, local government, inspectors and every sort of specialist you can think of.

But by using modern technology the design ‘team’ can still produce the goods with the aid of some key elements. There must be an established Framework that everyone is working around and there must be an agreed set of Standards to work to. Finally the Software must be compatible to enable everyone to coordinate and communicate.

Framework

The delivery of a building’s design should be completed using a recognised Framework. This Framework guides everyone from the first steps (concept) all the way through to commissioning and final sign off. It sets out the requirements of each stage and the documents to be published by each party. In the UK we generally use the RIBA Stage of Design but there are others, for example the NHS and MOD have their own Framework to us through the larger steps of the design. In detailed Frameworks timelines will be identified and highlighted for reference.

Standards

The Standards describe the levels of output required, be it documents, design calculations or limitations on physical equipment. Everyone must use these so that the design can be turned into a fully functioning building at the end. Some examples of these would be Fire Regulations, British Standards or ISO standards. These guide us through the smaller and more detailed steps of the design that have been identified in outline in the Framework documentation.

Software

Binding the two elements of Framework and Standards is the Software used by a dispersed team and this is key for communication. The Software must be compatible and accessible to everyone, the most common of these are the Microsoft suite of programmes including Word and Excel. These programmes are compatible with other publishers such as Macintosh or Linux and these days mobile or tablet devices. In general users can still communicate using most of the popular programmes.
However when we get into the detail of the design there are programmes such as AutoCAD or Solidworks which do not link up so it is important that the preferred software is selected at the start of the project.
For day to day communication between the team mobile phones or skype calls are vital to enable short term problems to be resolved. For a wider audience 3CX, polycom and BT also provide software for video conferencing that is easy to learn and utilise. To share files a network can be set up or website such as Dropbox or Google Drive can be used to enable quick and secure file sharing.

Above all though the drive and thoroughness of the team will see the design being completed to the required standard in a quick and expedient manner. Frameworks, Standards and the Software are the tools required to deliver a design, and used together effectively the dispersed team will produce an outstanding design.