Last edited 19 Mar 2020

Spatial coordination

The process for completing the design and construction of a building is often divided into stages. 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 by different organisations and the definition of what individual stages actually include, and so it is important that appointment documents make it clear specifically what activities fall within which stage, and what level of detail is required.

Spatial coordination’ is a new stage introduced by the RIBA Plan of work 2020. This replaces ‘developed design’ in the 2013 edition and might previously have been known as ‘detailed design’.

The RIBA Plan of Work is published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Split into a number of key project stages, the RIBA Plan of Work provides a shared framework for design and construction that offers both a process map and a management tool.

The RIBA Plan of Work 2020 changed the structure of the stages as shown below:

Stage 2013 edition 2020 edition
0 Strategic definition. Strategic definition.
1 Preparation and brief. Preparation and briefing.
2 Concept design. Concept design.
3 Developed design. Spatial coordination.
4 Technical design. Technical design.
5 Construction. Manufacturing and construction.
6 Handover and close out. Handover.
7 In use. Use.

The 2020 edition of the RIBA Plan of Work suggests that the spatial coordination stage: ‘...is fundamentally about testing and validating the Architectural Concept, to make sure that the architectural and engineering information prepared at Stage 2 is Spatially Coordinated before the detailed information required to manufacture and construct the building is produced at Stage 4… Stage 3 is not about adjusting the Architectural Concept, which should remain substantially unaltered, although detailed design or engineering tasks may require adjustments to make sure that the building is Spatially Coordinated.’

It suggests that a spatially coordinated design is a: 'Design in which the client’s Spatial Requirements and the spaces required for any Building Systems – such as structural and building services engineering aspects, including grids, risers and plant rooms – have been determined and fixed to allow Stage 4 to progress without any further iterations.'

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