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Mapping the early stages of the design process - a comparison between engineering and construction

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conference contribution
posted on 21.10.2009, 08:05 authored by Sebastian Macmillan, John Steele, Simon Austin, Robin Spence, Paul Kirby
The conceptual stage of a construction project is a vibrant, dynamic and creative period. Ideas are generated rapidly about the nature of the project, the requirements and desires, and potential solutions. But this period can also be disorganised and even chaotic; there are many uncertainties about the project, and the risks are high. Design team members may be unfamiliar to each other and unaccustomed to one anothers' ways of working. Maps of the design process are intended to obviate the need for the design team to re-invent the process each time, and to contribute to a working environment in which good design can flourish. Several process maps already exist for construction. One of the best known in the UK is the Plan of Work published over 30 years ago by the Royal Institute of British Architects, and whose terminology continues to be used throughout the industry. Recently other maps of the process have begun to emerge, some from industry, others from academic institutions. Neither the RIBA Plan of Work, nor more recent maps, give in-depth support to the concept phase. At the Department of Architecture at Cambridge University we are working with a number of construction industry firms (AMEC Design, BAA, Hotchkiss Ductwork Ltd, Hutter, Jennings & Titchmarsh, Matthew Hall, Pascall & Watson) on Mapping the design process during the conceptual phase of building projects. The project runs from April 1998 to March 2000 and is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Loughborough University is also involved in the project. It focuses on two areas: i) the collation, evaluation and potential transfer of established mapping methods and design techniques at the concept stage from engineering and other industries to construction; and ii) the refinement, testing and exploitation of these design techniques by construction industry designers.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


MACMILLAN, S. ... et al, 1999. Mapping the early stages of the design process - a comparison between engineering and construction. IN: Lindemann, Udo (ed.). Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED99, Munich, Germany, August 1999, pp. 1175-1178


Technische Universität München


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This is a conference paper.