Last edited 31 Dec 2020

Design information


[edit] Introduction

Design is the realisation of an idea, or the resolution of requirements, through means of communication such as drawings, plans, specifications and models. These can then be used to enable items to be created or issues resolved.

Design information is any information produced during the design process (typically by architects, engineers, contractors and other suppliers) in order to communicate or develop the design, or to inform decisions or to allow construction to take place.

The term ‘design’ does not only refer to aesthetics and will also include functional, performance, structural, construction and other aspects of the project.

Architects will typically be responsible for leading the process of preparing design information (although engineers may lead the process if the project relates predominantly to infrastructure, if there are particularly complex services or systems and so on) showing the arrangement of the design and how different aspects of it are coordinated and integrated.

Structural engineers will produce a structural design that comprises a general structural arrangement showing foundations, column and beam sizes, column to beam connections etc. Services engineers will produce layouts that show duct runs and sizes, boiler locations, pipework and so on. Specialist suppliers and sub-contractors may produce details for specialist aspects of the project such as cladding, escalators and lifts and so on.

[edit] Stages

This information will be generated at different points in the life of the project and may be compiled and issued at key stages to allow decisions to be made about the progress of the project.

Under the RIBA 2013 Plan of Work, information prepared during the concept design phase may not have enough detail to allow construction, but may be used to communicate to the client, contactor and other consultants, as well as other interested parties. This information may be sufficient to allow a planning application to be made.

The design is developed during the 'detailed design', ‘developed design’ or ‘design development’ stage. It is during this stage that the design is firmed up and some working drawings developed. The design information produced this stage may be used throughout the project although it may need to be updated at certain points due to factors such as specification changes, cost overruns, delays, material supply problems and a host of other snags that can hit a construction project. This information may be sufficient to allow a building regulations application to be made.

The subsequent technical design stage can be thought of as being part of the detailed design stage: design information continues to be produced but it is of a more technical nature. This is when architect, structural and other engineers and suppliers prepare working drawings that allow the contractor and sub-contractors to construct the building. The information produced during this phase can include details that concern wall construction, roof build-up, doors and windows, floor construction, structural frame arrangements junction details, fixing details, calculations and so on.

Aspects of the design that are the realm of specialists, such as curtain walling or lift machinery may require drawings to be produced by the respective subcontractors or suppliers. Their technical design drawings will inform the overall design and the other consultants of the design team who may need to make changes to their information as a result.

[edit] Format

Traditionally, paper has been used to convey design information, whether drawings or specifications. The development of technology now means that it is possible for design information to be conveyed almost entirely by digital means, such as computer aided design (CAD) and building information modelling (BIM).

[edit] Building information modelling

Building information modelling (BIM) is a very broad term that describes the process of creating and managing digital information about a built asset such as a building, bridge, highway or tunnel. Fundamentally, the purpose of BIM is to ensure that appropriate information is created in a suitable format at the right time so that better decisions can be made throughout the design, construction and operation of built assets. In the first instance, this involves the client, or their advisors, preparing employer's information requirements that define the information that will be required by them from both their own internal team and from suppliers for the development of the project and for the operation of the completed built asset.

It is important that this information is prepared in a format that will be of the greatest value through the life of the project, and that it is named and stored in a way that will be consistent with later stages.

For more information see: Building information modelling.

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