Tendering

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 6th of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

6. Tendering

tendering

In this project stage, we procure 1 or more tenders to build your project. A tender is essentially a quote, though more detailed and tied to both our documentation and the eventual building contract. There are a number of ways we can go about tendering a project, a topic we have previously explored here, but each essentially boils down to this:

  1. We submit our documentation set to 1 or more builders.
  2. We give the builders 4 weeks to prepare their tenders.
  3. We meet with the builders on site and respond to queries via tender addenda.
  4. At the end of 4 weeks, we negotiate with the preferred builder until you, she and we are happy with the scope and budget.
  5. We prepare duplicate copies of the building contract and documentation set for you and the builder to sign.

The tender period is typically set at 4 weeks, though the time required for the negotiation that takes place afterwards is dependent on how close to your project budget the tenders are. Since we carefully curate the builders with whom we work, all should be capable of executing the project. The only decision that needs to be made is on price.

Stage duration = 6 – 8 weeks
Architect’s time = 40 – 60 hours
Specialist consultants = N/A

Documentation = Tender addenda as required
Quantity of drawings  = N/A

Scale = N/A

farmer house tendering


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Tendering. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House tendering. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Documentation

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 5th of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

5. Documentation

documentation

By the time the documentation stage starts, 99% of the design decisions are made. It’s now time to produce a documentation set that helps us perform three tasks:

  1. Obtain a building permit.
  2. Receive tenders from one or more builders to build your project.
  3. Build your project.

We lock ourselves in our studio and go non-stop until we’re finished. We produce a very large quantity of drawings, including a site plan, demolition drawings, floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, elevations, sections, stair details, construction details, joinery plans and elevations, joinery details, and a window and door schedule. We also produce a written specification with attending schedules and appendices. The drawings explain the where and the how much; the specification explains the what and the how.

We work closely with the structural engineer, environmental consultant and landscape architect, both guiding their work and coordinating it with our own. While larger projects often involve further specialist consultants, this list is typically sufficient for single houses. We pay careful attention to the overlap between the consultants’ documentation sets to make sure heating ducts don’t need to be where columns are, and neither need to be where the kitchen sink is. We also submit our documentation to a building surveyor, who assess it against relevant building codes.

Finally, we end up with a highly detailed set of drawings and specifications that cover every scale of the project from site setout, to structural grid, to joinery details to tile types. These documents, together with our ongoing involvement on site, ensure the many months we have spent on creative thought find their way into the built form.

Stage duration = 3 – 4 months
Architect’s time = 200 – 300 hours
Specialist consultants = Structural engineer, environmental consultant, landscape architect, building surveyor
Documentation = Full construction drawings and specification
Scale of drawings = 1:200 – 1:5
Quantity = 20x A1 drawings + 50x A4 specification pages

farmer house documentation


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Documentation. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House documentation. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Design development

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 4th of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

4. Detailed design

design development

Once we have planning approval, we proceed to detailed design. On less risky projects, we sometimes get started on this a little earlier: after Council has indicated their support for our application but before they have formally approved it.

We begin by seeking your briefing input once again. As the name of the project stage suggest, this time we are interested in the details. We ask whether you prefer cupboards or drawers, what height you like your benchtops, whether you have a large shoe collection, how many game consoles you own.

We then thoroughly resolve a great number of design decisions. We select materials, finishes, plumbing fittings and fixtures, appliances, lighting, electrical fittings, heating and cooling systems, door and window hardware. In the sketch design stage, we might have proposed a ceiling be lined in timber, now we nominate the timber species, dimensions of the lining boards, supplier, profile and finish. We also design every built-in joinery unit, from wardrobes to vanity units to bookshelves to, often most important of all, the kitchen. We nominate the locations of appliances, sizes of drawers, types of cutlery inserts, and thicknesses of benchtops.

While this detailed process is unfolding, we also being consultation with a structural engineer, confirming the broad principles of the structural design, and a landscape architect, to collaborate with us on the design and documentation of outdoor garden areas.

Your involvement in the detailed design stage is dictated by your interest in its primary focus: some clients are happy to let us select everything, others love spending their weekends shopping for toilets and ovens. By the time this project stage is finished, we aim to have every significant design decision for the house made and approved.

Stage duration = 6 – 8 weeks
Architect’s time = 80 – 100 hours
Specialist consultants = Structural engineer, landscape architect
Documentation = Joinery and lighting drawings and schedules
Scale of drawings = 1:20
Quantity = 10x A1 drawings + 4x A3 schedules

farmer house design development


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Design development. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House design development. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Town planning

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 3rd of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

3. Town planning

town planning

In this project stage, we meet with a representative from the town planning department at your local Council for a pre-application meeting. This helps uncover any potential thorny issues in our proposal prior to submission of our application.

Once we’re satisfied that our design is as compliant as we can make it (or not, if you are masochistically interested in pushing the planning envelope), we convert our sketch design drawings into a package ready for submission. This involves tweaking the whole set to alter their main purpose from communicating our design to you, to demonstrating compliance with town planning regulations. We produce additional drawings like a site analysis, design response and shadow diagrams, and prepare a town planning report that assesses our design against the relevant zoning and overlay requirements.

Once we submit, we wait. Council will assign our application to a town planner, who will review it and request additional information if necessary. She will then arrange an advertising period where neighbours are able to review the proposal, will consider any objections received and prepare her report. Depending on the number of objections, either the planning coordinator or a full sitting of Council will consider the report and decide the project’s fate.

This is a highly variable stage of the project. Simple applications can fly through Council in a matter of weeks, while those that receive significant objections can get bogged down in months of bureaucracy. The worst case scenario is that the project will wind up at VCAT, which can take the better part of a year and cost many thousands of dollars in legal and consulting fees. Fortunately, most single houses do not go down this path. These will receive planning approval within the maximum 3 month period allotted to Council to assess applications.

Stage duration = 3 – 12 months
Architect’s time = 40 – 60 hours (excluding VCAT hearings)
Specialist consultants = Town planning consultant and lawyer (for VCAT hearings only)
Documentation = Town planning drawing set and report
Scale of drawings = 1:100
Quantity = 12x A3 drawings + 10x A4 report pages

farmer house town planning


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credit:

  1. Town planning. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House town planning. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Sketch design

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 2nd of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

2. Sketch design

sketch design

We split the sketch design stage into two parts. In the first, we undertake a design-driven feasibility study. This involves exploring a series of layout options with you, each approaching your brief in different ways. We do this through simple, hand-drawn floor plans that encourage objectivity and open-mindedness. Each option is accompanied by a brief cost estimate based on its size and our understanding of your expected level of construction quality. We use this process to help you establish an accurate project budget attached to a defined scope.

In the second part, we flesh out your preferred design arrangement into a three dimensional building. We resolve the layout, form and materiality of your house, and communicate these to you via floor plans, elevations, sections and materials palettes. More evocatively, we build a physical model of the project from card, pasteboard and balsa wood. Often we produce a digital model also, though nothing beats the childlike joy of holding a miniature house in your hands and imagining yourself wandering its rooms.

Once you have given us the tick of approval for our design, we put together a written scope of works document and submit it, together with our drawings, to a quantity surveyor. She then prepares an elemental cost estimate of the project, refining our initial feasibility study by studying each component individually e.g. separate costs for structure, windows, joinery, plumbing works etc. If necessary, we work with you and the quantity surveyor to tweak both the design and your budget until they align. By the end of this process, we have produced a resolved design that you both love and can afford.

Stage duration = 10 – 12 weeks
Architect’s time = 80 – 120 hours
Specialist consultants = Quantity surveyor
Documentation = Sketch floor plans, elevations, sections and model
Scale of drawings = 1:100
Quantity = 8x A3 pages + model

farmer house sketch design


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Sketch design. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House sketch design. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Research

clocks

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. In our recent article, The iron triangle, we discussed the hierarchy of the architect’s priorities and how expediency is unlikely to be as important as quality or economy. As we noted in that article, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 1st of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects. Included are indications of how much time it will need, the number of hours we spend, other specialist consultants involved, and the level of design resolution and documentation you can expect at its conclusion.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

1. Research

research

During the research stage, we gather as much information as we can about you and your project. We visit your site more than once and explore it thoroughly with camera, measuring tape and sketch book. We procure a copy of the title and we assess the town planning regulations specific to your site.

If the project is a renovation, we measure the house’s internal rooms in detail. We capture room sizes, ceiling heights, wall thicknesses, and the positions and heights of doors and windows. For both renovations and new builds, we commission a land survey of the site. This captures building footprints, heights and rooflines, contours relative to the Australian Height Datum, positions and heights of trees, and locations of fences and visible services. It also establishes the precise location of the title boundary.

Most importantly, we ask you to tell us about yourself, your tastes, lifestyle and your dreams for your new home. We take your answers and prepare a project brief that becomes the guiding document for the entire project.

Stage duration = 4 – 6 weeks
Architect’s time = 40 – 50 hours
Specialist consultants = Land surveyor

Documentation = Land survey, existing conditions drawings
Scale of drawings = 1:200 – 1:100
Quantity = 6x A3 pages

farmer house research


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Clocks. Author’s own image.
  2. Research. Author’s own image.
  3. Farmer House research. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Streets Without Cars

20140331 drummond street

What is it?

An unsolicited project our architecture practice, Mihaly Slocombe, recently completed. We redesigned a segment of Drummond Street in Carlton North, the street where we live and practice.

The project began with conversations with around two thirds of our neighbours, who helped us understand the cross section of the community for whom we were designing, as well as providing specific project briefing requirements. We published (and continue to maintain) a blog that tracked our research and design activities, and facilitated ongoing feedback to the community. The blog can be viewed here.

Our essential agenda for Streets Without Cars is best summed up by the opening remarks on the project blog:

Around 50% of all developed land in Melbourne is consumed by space for vehicles, most of which is streets.[1] The characteristics of a street, its dimensions, footpaths and traffic volume, all contribute to the wellbeing and happiness of the people who live along it. Drummond Street boasts a generous green median strip, but of its 28m width, 14m is reserved for car traffic and car parking. For the 130m between Curtain and Fenwick Streets, that’s a total of 1,820sqm, or around 15 typical Carlton North terraces. Also consider how little of the time this space is in use: on average, people are either entering, exiting or driving their vehicles for only 14 minutes in every hour.[2] So not only does Drummond Street dedicate a lot of its valuable space to the car, this space is left unused most of the time.

Imagine if there were no cars: no need for car parking or wide moats of asphalt reserved for car traffic. What could we do with the space and how might we foster new ways of living together as a community?

Once we began work on the project, it became clear that while removing all cars was a romantic proposition, it was not viable. We elected instead to explore a shared or living street philosophy. This is an idea that requires a street to be designed for walking first, cycling second and driving third. It slows down bicycle and car traffic; removes the traditionally separate zones for people, bicycles and cars; replaces asphalt with materials typically associated with parks and plazas; and encourages communal engagement between all streets users. We discussed aspects of this idea here.

20140331 aerial day

20140331 aerial night

What did we design?

We have just published our full design proposal to the Streets Without Cars blog, which can be viewed here. An animated flythrough of the project can be viewed on our Vimeo page.

We also presented the project at Volume 22 of the Pecha Kucha Melbourne series earlier this month. The 20 slides x 20 seconds format of Pecha Kucha offered the productive opportunity to distil the project down to its essential aims and qualities. Also relevant was the theme of the event, Members Only. It asked presenters to consider the value of clubs, their members, why and how we gain access, and what we do once we’re in. We titled our presentation, Getting Back into the Players Club.

The visual and spoken content of our presentation was as follows:

20140331 pecha kucha 01
Good evening. I’m Warwick Mihaly, a principal architect of Mihaly Slocombe. Every year we like to work on a speculative project that engages in questions of urban design. I’m going to present our 2014 project to you tonight via my presentation, Getting Back into The Players Club.

20140331 pecha kucha 02
Who are the current members of the Players Club? They’re the people and corporations shaping the future fabric of our cities. Once upon a time they used to be architects and urban designers, but this is less and less the case. These days, they’re mostly project managers, developers, even bankers.

20140331 pecha kucha 03
There are now whole cities springing up from the desert sands whose core focus is not livability but investment opportunity.

20140331 pecha kucha 04
Recent approvals for very large towers in the city, coupled with the poor urban outcome of the Docklands and dubious planning strategy for Fishermen’s Bend, shows that this is happening in Melbourne also. Do we really want our city to be corrupted by money?

20140331 pecha kucha 05
The traditional procurement model looks like the top line. A big investment company commissions a building design, then markets it to smaller investors who aim to lease out individual apartments. How the inhabitants are involved in this process is not clear. What we’d like to do is explore the bottom line, where design and community consultation drive the development process.

20140331 pecha kucha 06
Which brings me to our project, Streets Without Cars. The premise of the project is this: we wanted to redesign the street where we live and practice as a shared space, with pedestrians as its highest priority. We also wanted to engage our local community, so we spoke with as many of our neighbours as we could to understand how they would like the street to work.

20140331 pecha kucha 07
This is the site. It’s a 120m long section of Drummond Street in Carlton North, running between Curtain and Fenwick Streets. It’s 28m wide, 14m of which is currently covered in asphalt to provide room for north- and southbound car lanes. It has a central grass strip that is already reasonably well utilised.

20140331 pecha kucha 08
We were able to interview 22 of our 39 neighbours within the site zone and received rich feedback containing both concrete and aspirational design direction. One of our neighbours, James, gave us the phrase that ended up guiding our entire design process, “Like a big backyard for everyone.”

 

20140331 pecha kucha 09
We discovered a lot about the demographics of our neighbours. We now know there are 2.6 bicycles per household, that around 72% of our street works within a 5km radius, and most households have limited access to private open space. We were also able to collate the many briefing comments into groups of activities to design for: living, eating, socialising and play.

20140331 pecha kucha 10
So we came up with a design that removed the southbound car lane and used the space for a 17m wide strip of activity space bordered by a narrower strip of paving to be shared by bicycles, cars and pedestrians. A series of small pavilions runs down the length of the site, providing shelter and gathering.

20140331 pecha kucha 11
Our material palette is robust and urban. We used Bluestone paving on the ground, steel structure for the pavilion roofs, hit and miss brickwork and timber battening for the pavilions themselves. The four mature trees on site were retained and added to.

20140331 pecha kucha 12
At the heart of the site are the living and dining rooms, terraced spaces that can be used for just about anything. Gentle slopes in the terraced platforms allow us to catch pools of water for play and cooling. The roof over the dining room kicks up to support a solar panel array. All roofs collect water for irrigation.

20140331 pecha kucha 13
The dining room is loosely divided into four sub-spaces, some of which are undercover and others in the open. They are bordered by an open weave of brickwork that permits air movement, and down the track, trained vines.

20140331 pecha kucha 14
Running the full length of the site is a community vegetable patch. There’s also a fruit orchard embedded into the side of one of the pavilions. Our hope is that these would become activity centres to strengthen the local community. It would be pretty handy to harvest a few extra apples and a sprig of coriander too.

20140331 pecha kucha 15
20140331 pecha kucha 16

A big part of our design thinking revolved around transport. We decided to retain around 80% of the existing carparking, then added a couple of carshare spaces and 96 bicycle parking spaces within secure storage sheds. These anchor the ends of the site, free up valuable space within peoples’ homes, and encourage more integrated use of the street.

20140331 pecha kucha 17
The kitchen is a small cafeteria located adjacent to the dining and living rooms. Its operator would also act as caretaker for the vegetable patch and orchard, to keep them from getting unruly and providing an opportunity for the enjoyment of local produce.

20140331 pecha kucha 18 20140331 pecha kucha 19We met with the sustainable transport group at the City of Yarra today to present the project. They didn’t exactly front up a few million cash to build it, but they were very enthusiastic about the community consultation and radical, for Melbourne, urban design strategy. Our vision is that this sort of project could be rolled out across an entire municipality, small insertions designed to decrease our reliance on the automobile and increase our shared use of our streets. They could be spaced out so every resident has access to one within walking distance: another, finer layer of public parkland.

20140331 pecha kucha 20
That’s a 20-slide tip of the iceberg. We’ve been engaging with our neighbours via a dedicated project blog. If you’d like to find out a bit more about us, you can look us up on our website, design blog or twitter feed. Thank you.

Where to from here?

Our design may be finished, but the project is far from over. As mentioned above, we are now embarking on consultation with the local council to investigate ways we might implement this project. With some considerable determination and a bit of luck, future funding earmarked for the Carlton North area as part of the City of Yarra’s Local Area Traffic Management scheme might very well find its way towards Drummond Street and Streets Without Cars.[3]


Footnotes:

[1] At least a third of all developed land in cities is consumed by space for vehicles. In the especially car-focussed cities of the United States and Australia, the average rises to around half. In Los Angeles, an estimated two-thirds of urban land is primarily for vehicles. Michael Southworth and Eran Ben-Joseph; Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities; Island Press; Washington; 2003
[2] See our Drummond Street traffic research conducted in October of last year. Mihaly Slocombe; Traffic Conclusions; Streets Without Cars; Melbourne; 2013
[3] See a brief introductory page on the scheme at the City of Yarra website. Local Area Traffic Management; City of Yarra; Melbourne; 2014

Image credits:

  1. Drummond Street. Author’s own image.
  2. Aerial by day. Author’s own image.
  3. Aerial by night. Author’s own image.
  4. Pecha Kucha slide 1. Author’s own image.
  5. Pecha Kucha slide 2. Author’s own image.
  6. Pecha Kucha slide 3. Author’s own image.
  7. Pecha Kucha slide 4. Author’s own image.
  8. Pecha Kucha slide 5. Author’s own image.
  9. Pecha Kucha slide 6. Author’s own image.
  10. Pecha Kucha slide 7. Author’s own image.
  11. Pecha Kucha slide 8. Author’s own image.
  12. Pecha Kucha slide 9. Author’s own image.
  13. Pecha Kucha slide 10. Author’s own image.
  14. Pecha Kucha slide 11. Author’s own image.
  15. Pecha Kucha slide 12. Author’s own image.
  16. Pecha Kucha slide 13. Author’s own image.
  17. Pecha Kucha slide 14. Author’s own image.
  18. Pecha Kucha slide 15. Author’s own image.
  19. Pecha Kucha slide 16. Author’s own image.
  20. Pecha Kucha slide 17. Author’s own image.
  21. Pecha Kucha slide 18. Author’s own image.
  22. Pecha Kucha slide 19. Author’s own image.
  23. Pecha Kucha slide 20. Author’s own image.
Posted in Architecture, Urbanism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments