Last edited 14 Dec 2020

Design phase


[edit] Introduction

In very general terms, 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.

The process for completing the design and construction of a building is often divided into notional ‘stages’ or phases. This can be helpful in establishing milestones for the submission of progress reports, the preparation of information for approval, client gateways, and for making payments. However, there is a great deal of ambiguity between the naming of stages and the definition of what individual stages include. For more information see: Design stages.

In a traditional building contract for a stright-forward building, the design phase might comprise two very broad stages:

[edit] Concept design

Concept design generally takes place after feasibility studies and options appraisals have been carried out and a project brief has been prepared. Whilst these phases may include the preparation of drawings and other studies, they are generally not considered to involve 'desgin'.

The concept design represents the design team's initial response to the project brief, adn articulates the broad outlines of function and form.

Some designers differentiate between 'concept design' and 'scheme design'. In this case, the 'concept' is the initial design idea, whereas the 'scheme' develops the concept, taking on board more functional and practical considerations. Most project plans have now combined these two steps into the single stage 'concept design', or 'concept'.

During the concept design stage, the design team will develop:

At the end of the stage, the consultant team will typically prepare a concept design report which records the basic design concepts for the preferred option that might be worth further developing in the detailed design stage.

The project brief will generally continue to develop as the concept design is prepared, but is then frozen at the end of the concept design stage. An application for planning permission might be made during the concept design stage. This is likely to be an outline planning application if made at the beginning of the stage or a detailed planning application if made once the concept design is complete.

For a more detailed account see: Concept design.

[edit] Detailed design

Concept design is followed by 'detailed design' or 'developed design' during which all the main components of the building and how they fit together are described.

By the end of the detailed design process, the design should be dimensionally correct and co-ordinated. However, technical aspects of the design may require further development, design by specialists may not yet have been fully incorporated into the design and it will not have been packaged for tender.

Detailed design should provide sufficient information for applications for statutory approvals (such as building regulations approval) to be made.

Items that are typically developed in detailed design include:

For more information see: Detailed design.

[edit] Technical design

Increasingly, the complexity of buildings involves a further stage, sometimes referred to as 'technical design'. This includes project activities that take place after the detailed design (or 'developed design' or 'definition') has been completed, but before the construction contract is tendered or construction begins.

By the end of the stage the architectural, structural and mechanical services design and specifications should describe all the main components of the building and how they fit together, any performance specified work should be defined and there should be sufficient information for applications for statutory approval to be completed. Room data sheets are also likely to have been prepared along with outline technical specifications.

For more information see: Technical design.

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