Insights May 09, 2024

Design for Life?

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An Architects’ moral compass and ethical duties to serve the public are at the heart of the ARB and RIBA Standards of Conduct and Practice. The Grenfell tower disaster highlighted the importance for architects to live up to those duties and how failing to do so can have dire consequences. Moreover, that event set in motion a significant legislation change that requires clients to appoint competent designers.

Championing safety

To meet this new duty, earlier this year Khuzema signed up for the ‘Design for Life?’ course – at the London School of Architecture, drawn to it by its focus on fire, health and life safety in the design of buildings. LSA have been challenging the architectural education space since they set up a decade ago, and their new specialist ‘Part 4’ courses for mid-career architects are the kind of innovative, practice-led, education you would expect from them. Khuzema saw this as the kind of course that would challenge him, and give him useful skills to help grow the practice.

At Collective Works, Khuzema is our self-styled ‘technical guru’.  In our small practice, he is the one who is most inclined towards the construction end of the architectural process. He leads on the practical side of how buildings are put together, safety, building regulations and innovations in materials and technology, not to mention construction contracts, contract administration and legislative matters.

In the wake of the Grenfell disaster, and with the role of Principal Designer currently on everyone’s lips, this qualification is empowering Khuzema to be a real technical champion and leader on safety within the practice. 

Beyond CPD

We have an internal CPD programme – where the whole practice comes together to go into detail on specific subjects that are relevant to our practice –  in which we had spent time talking about the implications of the Grenfell fire, and already gone through the legislative changes that have brought in the formal PD role and what it means for our practice, our clients and their projects. 

More than a CPD session though, the Part 4 Design for Life course allowed Khuzema to participate in an extended academic setting while continuing to be a practitioner. The modular approach, over six Friday afternoon classroom sessions and a flexible approach to coursework and reading fitted in with professional practice and family life. 

Led by Liam Ross and experts from across the construction industry, it took the form of a series of design problems, which raised pertinent questions. With a limited intake of around 40 participants, this small group of experienced architects were able to use these prompts to engage with topics that included building regulations, economic consequences of safety concerns, how insurance shapes design, material certification, detailing for safety and how to ensure any concerns of the building user are heard.  With guest speakers and often conflicting opinions, the classroom was a useful sandbox to learn to find solutions and strategies and for approaching them in an open and safe forum. 

Khuzema said “Exchanging experience and outlooks was key to the course, allowing us to come to our own conclusions and explore issues in our own time as well as during the Friday afternoon learning sessions.”

If you are looking for an architect that is not only a competent Principal Designer but also versed in designing a resilient building that can support the productivity of your organisation, Collective Works are well-placed to help.

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