LESSONS LEARNED ON SITE THE KEY TO CONSTRUCTION QUALITY
By Diana Sarcasmo
Mirvac General Manager of Design
The often unsung hero in the delivery of a quality building, that is true to the concept architect’s vision and is at the same time buildable, is the project architect.
It takes years of experience to acquire the skillset that is required of a good project architect, one who can appreciate the big picture while also delighting in the detailed documentation that eliminates risk. And critically, one who understands construction.
Construction quality has taken a hit in the past few years, its failings well documented in the Shergold Weir report into building quality.
It is at the juncture between design and construction that a well-rounded project architect has a critical role to play in ensuring the integrity and quality of a building.
Mirvac Design is an architectural practice where its architects have frequent exposure to construction sites, where they can learn on the job, discussing design with those who must build it and ingesting some of the wisdom of builders with decades of experience.
The model, in which there is full integration between design, development and construction, has allowed Mirvac Design to deliver sustainable solutions designed for longevity and resilience.
And it highly values project architects such as Snezana Mitrovski, a Mirvac Design Senior Associate who has been pivotal in the delivery of outstanding buildings such as Era at Pacific Place Chatswood, which won the Property Council’s Best Residential Award, and Pavilions at Sydney Olympic Park, which will be complete in mid-2020.
Snezana, has led a team of 15 architects working on Pavilions for more than three years, producing literally thousands of detailed drawings. The critical difference is that at every step of the way Mirvac Construction has been involved and external consultants with specialist expertise, such as engineers, have been part of the process.
Weekly on-site meetings between Snezana and the construction team have included junior architects for whom she is a mentor, and it is this handing down of knowledge to the next generation that is her gift to the future of our built environment.
There are few architects with a level of construction knowledge to equal Snezana. She commands enormous respect on-site because she has mastered the essence of architecture, the meeting of art and technology. And she has listened and learned from builders, respecting their expertise and the exquisite logic that is hardwired into those with a talent for construction.
The tension that frequently exists between design and construction is absent because each respects the expertise of the other.
The construction knowledge that is critical to producing detailed drawings where there is nothing left to guesswork, or “gut feeling”, is what every builder wants. A building that can be built as designed and stay standing for years to come.
Design development and detailed documentation is meticulous work, requiring a thorough knowledge of building standards and the codes, the performance of materials in different environments and an insight into construction techniques.
It takes years to become a truly good architect. And it takes many truly good architects to produce architecture with an enduring quality, where the design of every detail has been meticulously considered and above all that is structurally sound.