The New Architect
In the construction world there is an interesting development going on, which is occurring because of the financial crisis. The division of roles is experiencing a turnaround and cooperative connections are being created that used to be unthinkable. Whereas the architect “used to be” the construction lord, (s)he now has to reinvent him or herself. With the knowledge that the architectural industry has been halved over the past few years, this is pure necessity.
But exactly who is this new architect? An introduction.
The most obvious development is that of the Building Information Modelling, in short, BIM. Working in a single 3D model with all the design team members and later with the construction team members in an early stage to eliminate mistakes at an early stage. Virtual construction.
Many architectural firms have already adopted an 3D architectural BIM software, because they realized the added value and the future of BIM. Clients demand BIM nowadays and that will only increase. Going a step further: building will just be assembling in the future. The model will be assembled at the construction site, without errors. Just look at the car industry.
Architectural firms have always had a coordinating role in the design trajectory and that’s why the role of BIM-manager fits to a T. As far as contents is concerned, they are informed the best about the building and they instinctively know where the bottlenecks are. The fact that this is only confirmed by the so-called clash-controls is just icing on the cake.
In order to fulfill such a role, there needs to be cooperation. And in this area as well, architectural firms are extremely creative. There are firms that provide the modelling work for other firms, and there also are firms that cooperate with developing builders. You should think that these are two completely different worlds, but it does happen
Another reason for that is that a contractor is complementary to an architect. After all, he or she is in charge of the execution and if you get together at an early stage it makes a huge difference for all parties involved in terms of work and frustration. The architect can share his vision of the project, the contractor considers how he or she can execute this without losing side of the aesthetics. That makes for a whole different working environment than with a contractor who has acquired the contract with a too sharp price.
Originally an architect is an artist who, ideally, would only be geared towards the design of beautiful architecture. Now, more than ever, entrepreneur qualities are demanded. And a good entrepreneur knows where the opportunities are in this day and age. Market knowledge.
Take for instance all the empty offices and churches that demand a transformation. Or the thousands of houses that need sustainability. Or the shifts that are happening in the healthcare that need a custom- made solution. Or individuals, who would like to make use of the low VAT rate for reconstruction.
Now that the market has strengthened a bit again, it soon becomes apparent that there is insufficient personnel to finish the job. Only the hard core has remained. Contracted personnel are no longer viable in the unpredictable working culture of the architectural firms of today. Assignments can be put on hold for months for whatever silly reason. And when the green light has been given again, then immediate results are expected yesterday.
That makes for a very unpredictable situation with many peak moments. For this reason, many architectural firms create a reliable, flexible layer to deal with this. That could be in the form of temporary employees, but the ideal scenario is to have a freelancer who is familiar with the firm and knows what the demands are. This is where you see that fired personnel is rehired as a freelancer. Or, people who have started a business for themselves as a flexible layer for architectural firms.
You can design the most beautiful architecture but you also need to know how to market it. Marketing does not need to cost anything nowadays, only your precious time. We talk about three pillars then: website, network and social media.
A good website has to be a source of knowledge and ability. A firm that is specialized in building sustainable has dedicated a few articles to this. About experiences in the past, the anecdotes of the execution, about current projects and the vision for the future. If this is constructed well, such an article can be found quickly. Meaning, in the search results of Google. So, the site will only be visited by people who are looking for something concrete that this firm knows all about. It’s a waste to just stick all of that information only into newsletters with a limited reach.
Whereas the website is the digital business card, the leadership and the personnel are the physical version thereof. They show themselves on meetings and congresses that are also visited by potential clients. Business Networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business.
On social media, the website articles and everything that could be interesting for the target group are separated. The goal is not to score direct clients, but to share knowledge and to underline the expertise of the firm. That is how the firm builds up its reputation as an expert and how it remains on the radar of the target group. Sooner or later that effort will pay off, because sharing is the new getting.
Question: What Experience Do You have? What is your best advice for being the New Architect?
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