Building Envelope blog posts
New generations don’t have boundaries
Anssi Lehmonen | May. 5, 2020
Couple of weeks ago I participated in the yearly event of Finnish architects* organized by Finnish association of architects (SAFA). This year’s event gathered more than 300 architects into Oulu. This event is the biggest architect event in Finland. During the event, we launched new product for our Liberta family (Liberta 550 vertical).
After the official event program most of the crowd headed to cozy bar nearby. Discussions which I had there got me thinking. Common topic during the conversations was how to increase co-operation in the projects. Traditional culture in construction business is not supporting transparency and true co-operation with stakeholders involved. Architects, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers all bring their own goals and cultures to the team, and self-interest dominates the building process. Collaboration is still a relatively new approach to project delivery, and its value is still being debated. Quite often it’s pushing to optimize individual profitability without taking care of the next steps. Roughly speaking, designers has been chosen by the criteria; who will make perfect plan with lowest hours, turnkey contractor has been selected by the speed and cheapest price, same goes for material suppliers. And if and when there will be need for changing the plans, conflict is right around the corner. Everybody is blaming each other and time and money is going down to toilet for settling the disputes. Subcontractors are seldom treated as equal partners in the process, and offensive contract clauses reduce trust between team members.
Nowadays one solution to avoid this to happen is Alliance model. I think this is a good start but in a long run should also include material suppliers as well. I understand that there’s time constrains for co-operating actively with all players involved but currently subcontractors role is getting more important. Construction work has become so specialized that even a small subcontractor can make innovative contributions to a project using its particular expertise. When all team members have ownership of the outcome and are included in decision making, the resulting synergy can produce quality products more efficiently. Commitment to a common vision triggers creative solutions to problems that arise during construction. One good example for creating something new was when we together with project architect and installation company invented flat and hidden fix vertical flashing for one sandwich panel project. All of us brought our own expertise into the table and created solution which not only looked dazzling but was also easy to install**.
Back to the bar discussions…I was amazed how open minded “youngish” generation really are. Many of them had already interesting career paths. Some had worked for construction companies before starting architect duties and vice versa. We just need to be open for other team member in the project and learn from each other. Personally I have couple designers to whom I calling once in a while when we are developing something new. Also there’s bunch of architects who are calling me when they are designing and want to hear if their idea is functional and cost effective. This work is resulting that many of their projects are in line with the given budget frame and designers vision will be realized and not changed.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” -Henry Ford
**= Product is now named Ruukki Invisible