Is outsourcing pain or gain?

February 3rd, 2014

Outsourcing can be cost-effective strategy when used properly. There are times when it is more affordable to purchase goods from offshore companies with comparative advantages than to produce the goods or services locally.

Apparently, Ford Motor Company- the renowned American automobile giant have outsource bookkeeping duties to independent accounting firms and now, they have set up a software development center overseas to manage their e-business solutions.

So the concept of outsourcing sounds tempting but what really is outsourcing then?

Well, outsourcing is the act of one company contracting with another company to provide services that might otherwise be performed by in- house employees. The company itself could perform the tasks that are outsourced, but in many cases there are financial advantages that come from outsourcing. Many large companies now outsource jobs such as call center services, e-mail services, and payroll.

Cost reducing is definitely the first motive of outsourcing. The thing is that it does not only stop there. When there is economic boom in some nations – they might face difficulty in increasing their capacity of assembly line and laborers at short notice. Outsourcing can help firms not to compromise at times of boom. Likewise, outsourcing also helps when companies face high employee turnover.

When large projects are being held, companies might not have a skilled laborer at their disposal. On-site outsourcing of the project can bring the right skilled labor to help with the project and the native employees of the company can work under them.

Outsourcing also helps reducing overhead costs. For instance, a firm needs additional rental space to expand its business. In some cases, it will make more business sense to outsource some of the responsibilities to other offices, rather than rent more space. Renting additional spaces may cost more than the profit earned from the projects in the long run.

However, outsourcing has some inherent disadvantages also. The company often has less direct oversight and control of the product or service it is purchasing, which can threaten the relationship between the company and its customers.

But THD provides you the high quality service and your project is at the top of our priority list as it pertains to valuable clients. As a safeguard, we send daily checkpoints to ensure that projects are done efficiently and precisely reliable to avoid hassle-free drafting service.

Communication can cause problems. Outsourcing overseas can lead to language barrier issues. Outsourcing, especially offshore, is sometimes criticized, which can mean bad public relations for a company. Security issues, such as keeping proprietary information private, also can arise. Hiring an outside company presents challenges to the hiring company.

Well, its true language barrier and security issues do pose a threat.

THD staff can converse in English efficiently and have undergone an IELTS programme organized by British Council Nepal. For bigger projects where there is a need for all different trades to communicate with each other, we do know how to use online document management systems e.g. Union Square

THD follows the concrete procedure of working quality system; we comply with:

-Confidentiality and security of all the projects

-Code of conduct

-Specific clients’ requirements

 

In a nutshell, outsourcing can aid a growing business to grow as big as it possibly can. Whether outsourcing is a good thing or a bad omen to the society is always a debate. In fact, the battle has been going on since at least the 1880s, when the first New England textile mills began moving production to the Carolinas. Whatever name it goes by — “runaway plants,” “outsourcing,” “global sourcing,” “offshoring”— workers and the public tend to hate it, executives view it as inevitable and economists defend it as part of the painful process by which market economies prosper.

Time has come where nations do not fight wars with guns but a nation devours another nation by selling consumer products. So, outsourcing whether it be a good or a bad thing, it surely is needed for survival of businesses.

 

In conclusion,

Have you ever outsourced your project? If, yes.

How was your experience? Whether good or bad experience?

If, no.

Why not think about outsourcing for the first-time, I suggest you to give a trial on outsourcing your project and see whether it’s beneficial to your organization or not.

Please share your views!

Time vs Architects

August 28th, 2013

Is Time against you?

Be it small companies or large, take it from us, we know you always have a bigger fish to fry. However are you held back by all the mundane hard works that needs to go into design projects; drafting? Ironically drafting work is the most crucial part of design project as it is needed for planning permission. Due to the time consuming nature of drafting, valuable time which could have been used on other core aspects of architecture are being wasted. As time waits for no one, Prioritization is the key word here. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a way to unload some responsibilities of tending to the non-core works and prioritizing your time on more important stuffs?

 

That’s where we come in.

 

Who is THD?

THD comes with six outstanding years of specialized drafting services to its belt. Your choice is simple. You want a solution to your drafting dilemma. We listen, we hear and we understand your choice. We understand your choice to look for a better solution. We are your solution. We are your drafting partner.

We have been providing services for purposes of unburdening the clients with secondary works that are important and very much part of the creative process but best handed to a third party. We step in as an essential ingredient so that your works can be completed with precision and quality without getting in your way of creative process.

 

Outsourcing does not work, if you save time and money on the drawing output, but use all your time trying to explain and then edit the output. Hence we use locally registered architects who have experiences dealing with international clients to minimize communication breakdown or lack of understanding between you and us. Our staff are qualified and technically competent who take pride in producing quality drawings under a tight time frame. They are well versed in English and since most of our staff have worked with international clients, culture difference is not a barrier. Our competitive prices ensure you are getting a good deal and our advanced communication infrastructure ensures you get your documents in time.

 

We pride our service on being interpretive and proactive, if you don’t have a clear brief; the drawings are nothing more than rough sketches or photographs, we can assist.

 

Our clients

Our clients are busy and ambitious companies who struggle to accomplish the most tedious job in architecture that consume substantial amount of their time and effort; the drafting. Our clients understand the value of “quality and time” and are ready to unload some of their responsibilities to attain a much quicker result in a much quicker time schedule with the same level of quality desired.

 

Special offer

We are offering our new clients free 16 hours trial run to gauge our quality and skill and test if the service is appropriate for you.

We understand the difficulty faced by the construction industry in the UK so we are offering an introductory price for your first project at GBP 7 per hour (usual is GBP 9).

THD and RIBA Plan of Work 2013

January 25th, 2013

Still confused about the new RIBA Plan of Work 2013. Fear not!we_can_helpAs most of you know (should know) that there is a new Plan of Work (PoW) that will be implemented by early this year.

And THD is ready for this change.

The old Stages C (concept), D (design development) and E (technical Design) has now been replaced with the new stage 2(concept design), 3 (developed design) and 4 (technical design).

In stage 2 (concept design), the work load remains the same as old Stage C.  Stage 2 is defined as: ‘Preparation of Concept Design. Including outline proposals for structural design, services systems, landscape, outline specifications and preliminary cost plan along with relevant Project Strategies. Agree developments to brief and issue Final Project Brief.’ Mainly planning drawings, we would be able to assist you from survey drawings, existing drawings to proposed drawings. All drawings will be met with building regulation requirements.

In stage 3 (developed design) or previously known as stage D (design development). As per the new requirements of Stage 3: ‘Preparation of Developed Design. Including co-ordinated and updated proposals for structural design, services systems, landscape, outline specification, cost plan and Project Strategies’. We will be able to assist you in internal room layouts, electrical layouts, joinery details and other drawing requirements to pass this stage. Note on how Stage 3 is called “developed” and before Stage E is called “development”.

The final stage 4 in the new PoW is a combination of the old PoW’s stage E, F and G. Detailed drawings will be needed for this stage for information and tendering; which is now called Stage 5; Fabrication. Stage 4 is defined as: ‘ Preparation of Technical Design in accordance with Design Responsibility Matrix and Project Strategies to include all architectural, structural and mechanical services information and specifications including the Lead Designer’s review and sign-off of all information.’

As you can see although the stages “naming” have changed, the required information is basically the same. Get in touch with us to aid you in planning drawings as per the new stage requirements.

RIBA Plan of Work 2013

January 24th, 2013

Stages_of_Work_by_RestlessDaydream

At the 50th anniversary of the original RIBA Plan of Work(PoW) has marked the birth of a new one. The original plan of work first came to action in 1963 and had been the definitive UK model for the building design and construction process, and has also been used internationally.

The catalyst of the change came about after the publication of ‘Green Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work’ in November 2011 and ‘BIM Overlay’ in May 2012. RIBA decided to review its old PoW to ensure it meets with best practice from all specialists within the integrated construction team, and to provide a renewed framework which will be fit for the next generation. The alignment of the new project stages against Construction Industry Council (CSC) Schedule of Services and the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 is one of the achievments emanating from this new plan of work, and is important as the CIS is the interface for many Cabinet office activities on its construction strategy.

Below shows the RIBA PoW 2013 against the original RIBA PoW and CIC scope of services.

PlanOfWork_2013_Comparison_V6

The final version in hard copy will be published by end of 2012 and the electronic version available early this year.  There will be generic bars for the ‘3 Ps’ (procurement, planning and programme) and the electronic version will allow creation of more specific bars for these activities.

The electronic version can be applied for repetitive use by a firm or as a ‘one-off’ for a particular project. E.g. Companies that are involved in mainly small projects using traditional procurement, and are likely to use this form of procurement in the future, will be able to generate a plan that explains the design and construction process to their clients without specific dialogue on procurement or planning or programme. But for larger projects, discussions or workshops related to the separate but interlinked subjects of procurement, town planning and programme will be important before a project specific Plan of Work 2013 is generated. RIBA Client Advisors will need to ensure that discussions on these topics are met in the preparation stage before design work begins.

 The Matrix Grid

Plan of work stages in numbers

 

What is good about PoW 2013?

  1. While the existing plan is linear, PoW 2013 has a gridded matrix structure, with columns for work stages and rows for tasks. Although the new stages follow a liner sequence, it is more flexible; it will now be possible to bring forward certain aspects of the design or for some stages to overlap. The new task bars, which form the eight rows of this grid, are fixed, variable or switchable and will help to make jobs more specific to practices and projects – effectively it is an adaptable kit of parts.
  2. PoW 2013 will be integrated with the rest of the construction industry, with new stages aligned with the Construction Industry Council schedule of services, and will allow the interchange of supporting documents produced by different bodies. These stages will also align with the government’s proposed information exchange gateways – the formal issues of documents for review and approval at key stages of projects.
  3. The new ‘matrix’ is a response to the current forms of procurement. PoW 2013 will be ‘procurement-neutral’ – i.e. it will be possible to generate project or practice- specific versions electronically online, enabling the template to be converted into a project, practice or client-specific Plan of Work
  4. The new PoW avoids assumptions about the timing of planning applications which can, in reality, be made at various stages of projects and the town planning task bar allows for this.

What is bad about PoW 2013?

  1. There are concerns that PoW 2013 doesn’t make sufficient provision for the aftercare of construction projects. On the other hand, some architects think PoW 2013 could involve architects in excessive and unpaid soft landings activity.
  2. There are no role descriptions for environmental, sustainability or ecology consultants.
  3. There are concerns that small practices, although involved in PoW 2013 consultation, will be at disadvantage. Yet others argue it lends itself to small projects, with its emphasis on stages 1- 3.
  4. Architects are worried about the fee implications. Residential clients sometimes wish to stop projects after planning or Building Regulations approvals. The large stage 4 (equivalent to former stages E –H) will make this look expensive. Others argue that PoW 2013 will support BIM fee structures and that this be beneficial.
  5. Some architects think the architectural profession should have been involved at a higher level and with input from more members in the development of PoW 2013, and just in consultation.

Five strategic stage changes:

–          New stage 0, which is optional, emphasizes the need to strategically appraise and define projects before detailed briefs are formulated.

–          Stage 3 is similar to D and part of E, but developed design will be co-ordinated and aligned with cost information by the end stage, necessitating extra time for information review.

–          Stage 4 accommodates the residual technical work of the core design team members, whose design work will be completed at the end of this stage, although they may be obligated to check fabrication design information during stage 5 or deal with question arising from work on site at stage 6

–          Stages G, H and J have been replaced by a procurement task bar to enable the PoW to be used in conjunction with different procurement strategies. This schedules the principal tendering and contract tasks at each stage

–          The new stage 5 recognises the increases importance of design work undertaken by specialist contractors and’or suppliers employed by the contractors and the need to define this work early in the process in the Design Responsibility Matrix.

Fee Scales

The RIBA recommends practices consider the implications of the five strategic shifts in the PoW on their processes on call out rates. Whereas stage 0 is likely to be chargeable at an hourly rate, stage 3 coordination may result in higher fees that the previous stage D. Fees for tendering and other procurement work should reflect specific activities for the form of procurement.

In the case of projects for which the Procurement Strategy is not, as recommended, finalized at the end of stage 1, the pull-down options in the electronic version of the PoW  provide flexibility. A ‘holding’ bar can be placed in the project PoW and a new Plan generated when the Procurement or Town Planning Strategies or the Project Programme have been determined.

Learn more about RIBA Plan of Work 2013:

BIM overlay in Po

RIBA Plan of Work 2013

Learn more about outsourcing:

http://thd.com.np/category/outsourcing/

 

 

Reference:

http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/the-good-the-bad-and-the-grid-matrix-how-the-new-riba-plan-of-work-2013-will-affect-you/8639347.article

http://ribajournal.com/pages/sept_practice_leadership_187156.cfm

http://www.ribablogs.com/?tag=plan-of-work

 

Merry Christmas 2012

December 24th, 2012

Ethics in outsourcing

December 10th, 2012

Pursuit* of Ethics in Outsourcing

“If a CIO says ‘I’ve never faced an ethical issue’, they’re not living in the real world,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, a security and privacy research think tank based in Arizona.

Though business relationships are mainly based on economics, moral and ethical dimensions have an equal impact on the profitability of the companies. Why is it important for organizations to do business ethically?

Doing business in an ethic way presents a strong public image and upholds the integrity and character of an organization. Whether personal or professional, many would not like to associate with unethical individuals. It is makes a lot more sense to do business with ethical organizations as it has direct influence on the overall functioning of a business.

So it is no surprise that many question the ethics of outsourcing.

Past

Throughout history, it is common for companies to seek inexpensive sources of labor to reduce their operational costs. Then, the desire for cheap labor is driven by profit motive. By reducing operational cost, companies were able to reduce prices and increase profit. Hence the trend of outsourcing to an offshore site where salaries are lower is very common.

Before, the ethical question was focused more on the working conditions of an offshore site. As in the past, outsourcing was usually done for unskilled jobs in manufacturing and agriculture. Usually the offsite were badly managed, had poor working conditions, long working hours, child labor and under paid. Hence, outsourcing was seen as unethical working practice.

But times have changed. Working conditions have been greatly improved. There are many international monitoring companies that ensure that the working conditions are justice to the employees. Many outsourcing firms that provide professional services have world class working environment and uses up to date technologies.

Present

Now the sectors of trade for outsourcing have greatly increased. With globalization, many under developed countries are exposed to higher education, technologies, skills and English language. Hence even “safe” jobs in engineering, health care, IT and many skill oriented jobs are been shipped overseas. Gone are the days where outsourcing was seen as a cost-saving measure, with an expectation of low-quality output. Now quality and skills define the requirements of modern day outsourcing.

Now, many question the ethic of moving jobs to overseas. Outsourcing is looked upon as “stealing” jobs from the host country. While this argument is valid, one should understand the reason behind outsourcing.

Even though the pie is big enough for everyone, it is not happening in real world. In the real world everyone is fighting for each project, get new clients no matter the techniques and to succeed while others fail. This often leads to the losing team to lose its business and its staff.

In the business world, to win would be continually cutting back and reducing costs. Outsourcing is seen as one such method of reducing operational costs. If outsourcing allows a company to cut costs and allow them to concentrate on core aspect of business, thereby remaining a healthier business and staying on competition, is it not acceptable for a company to outsource jobs?

What about the company’s ethic responsibility to its staff? Going by IEEE Code of Ethics states, employers should do their best to “assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development.”

 

Architectural Outsourcing in THD

We, THD, believe that we are a “helping hand” to our partners. We assists our partners in documenting construction packages while they do the creative aspect of the project. By giving non-core works to THD, our partners have more time to concentrate on the core aspect of the projects. We should also be seen as a “part-time staff” and be used when there is a sudden increase in work load or absence of staff.

We feel that our services should go beyond just drafting services. Our preferred partners are small or start up companies. Our services are used to compete with bigger players who have bigger staff numbers. We are also hired when small struggling firms do not have enough resources to hire new staff or specialists. It is unfair for small companies who have the talent but are not able to deliver work due to lack of resources. We have worked with many such companies. It gives us great satisfaction to know that our services have helped our partners in many other ways besides drafting! :)

In conclusion, outsourcing will be a part and parcel of common business practice who wishes to compete and stay ahead.

Please share your views on the ethics of outsourcing.

*Pursuit – Reference to the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006”

outsourcing – you are doing it right

November 22nd, 2012

Outsourcing – Doing it right!

In this dog-eat-dog world, it is crucial for business to adapt and apply. In order to stay ahead of your competitions your methods has to be very selective and up to date (e.g. using social network for marketing). Offshore outsourcing is one such method. With the right vendor, outsourcing has a track record of proving itself as an essential ingredient to stay ahead. It is the practice of giving non-core functions to an offshore firm specializing in such tasks.

Outsourcing trend is on the rise with many companies (although most of them are quiet about it), big and small alike, mainly due to rising cost of production, labor cost, taxes and other expenses. Outsourcing can heavily reduce the operating cost which includes administration, in-house training expenses, healthcare, insurance, taxes, hardware and software and the like. And the main reason on why operation costs are lowered is offshore money’s value being less than par foreign currency. Besides just saving costs, there are other factors that drive companies to outsource:

Absence of specialists or experts: In many companies, this has been the main driving force for companies to outsource. Complex process oriented projects demand expertise that may not be present in the company. Also sometimes the requirements may not be full time. Outsourcing is an alternative to hiring.

Irregular demand for personnel: For sudden increase of projects requires additional staff but is not feasible to hire staff. This scenario is perfect for outsourcing. Other similar scenario is large projects comprising of smaller parts that need specialists. And since it is small part of the project, it is not a good investment to hire new staffs just for the project. Again outsourcing would solve such problems.

Save time: Although outsourcing saves money, an experienced outsourcer can tell you that saving time has been more important. Money can be earned back but time will wait for no one. Time is literally money especially when management has to be involved in routine, secondary work in an organization (usually small or startup companies). By outsourcing the mundane, repetitive activity to, management are free to concentrate on key focus areas that demand intelligent, path breaking ideas and give their attention to top priority processes.

The key to successful outsourcing is to understand your needs and understand your vendor. It is important that your company lists out all the reasons to outsource and rank them in order of priority. Consult all management and even staff. I would like to put a personal statement regarding staff: Do not reduce your staff and outsource their works in order to save money. Outsource to expand your business or reduce further operational cost. Have some ethics..Anyways you should outsource to:

–          Achieve economies of production

–          Focusing and improving on the main core aspect of the business

Finding the right outsourcing vendor is a key. Obviously. Most people are too lazy to do their own deep research and end up partnering with a guy whose is running his operation in a farm shed using solar power and century old technology and later complains that outsourcing is not good!

Reliability is the prime qualification of any outsourcing provider. There should be a balance of quality service and price.

A little side note about price. In most developing countries, the value of the currency keeps changing. If the value of the currency is steady or declining (even better), than there is a certain that the price stated by vendor will not change. But if the value of country’s currency is increasing, then there is a possibility that the price stated to you will increase too. For example in the country where the price is rising, one would have to pay an  architect USD300. But as the economy picks up, the architect has to be paid USD500. Hence the vendor would have to increase its price to meet its country’s demand.

Outsourcing vendors should be able to maintain their price levels for a long period of time, which will give the advantage to their clients. This will be the single most important factor in the success of any company providing outsourcing services and effectively kill their competition.

Factors when deciding an outsourcing company:

A suitable infrastructure

Well qualified work force with experience tailored to the job.

Track record of keeping trade secrets

And finally an established track record of success stories.

Please do note that outsourcing should not be seen as a solution to all problems ailing a company. Management should understand the company’s need to outsource and weigh the risk and benefit before engaging into one. One should know that if the problem of the company is deeply rooted with the history of the company, it is not recommended to expect outsourcing vendors to solve them. Therefore analyze the root cause of the problems and then considering the option of outsourcing keeping in mind the long term strategic objectives of the company.

Architects and Books

November 8th, 2012

Architects and books

When you outsource you save money and time. Besides investing those time and money to grow your company, what else can you do? Spend it on a good book and read it on your free time. And what better books than books related to architecture. As you know architects only knows one language; Architectural Language. Who knows, you might even learn something while enjoying your book.

The titles are in no particular order. Just enjoy it.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (highly recommended)

The Fountainhead‘s protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice what the public sees as modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fountainhead

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Loving Frank is an American novel by Nancy Horan published in 2007. It tells the story of Mamah Borthwick and her illicit love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright amidst the public shame they experienced in early twentieth century America.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_Frank

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The House of the Seven Gables is a Gothic novel written in 1851 by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne and published the same year by Ticknor and Fields of Boston. Hawthorne explores themes of guilt, retribution, and atonement in a New England family and colors the tale with suggestions of the supernatural and witchcraft. The story was inspired by a gabled house in Salem belonging to Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna Ingersoll and by those of Hawthorne’s ancestors who played a part in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_Seven_Gables

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

A House for Mr Biswas is a 1961 novel by V. S. Naipaul, significant as Naipaul’s first work to achieve acclaim worldwide. It is the story of Mohun Biswas, an Indo-Trinidadian who continually strives for success and mostly fails, who marries into the Tulsi family only to find himself dominated by it, and who finally sets the goal of owning his own house. Drawing some elements from the life of Naipaul’s father,the work is primarily a sharply-drawn look at life that uses postcolonial perspectives to view a vanished colonial world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_House_for_Mr._Biswas

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

When a house owned by Kathy Nicolo, a former drug addict, is placed for auction, Behrani seizes the opportunity and purchases it. He bets his son’s entire college fund, planning to renovate the house and then resell it for much more than he originally paid as a first step on the way to establishing himself in real-estate investment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Sand_and_Fog_(novel)

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves begins with a first-person narrative by Johnny Truant, a Los Angeles tattoo parlor employee and professed unreliable narrator. Truant is searching for a new apartment when his friend Lude tells him about the apartment of the recently deceased Zampanò, a blind, elderly man who lived in Lude’s building.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Leaves

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

The book explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by an explorer, Marco Polo. The book is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who constantly has merchants coming to describe the state of his expanding and vast empire, and Polo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Cities

 The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel by Ken Follett published in 1989 about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. It is set in the middle of the 12th century, primarily during the Anarchy, between the time of the sinking of the White Ship and the murder of Thomas Becket. The book traces the development of Gothic architecture out of the preceding Romanesque architecture, and the fortunes of the Kingsbridge priory and village against the backdrop of historical events of the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pillars_of_the_Earth

 The Architect by Charles Bancroft

Architect Rob Gilbert’s life and career have been as charmed as he is charming, until a mysterious woman and a collapsed building change all that. The Architect tells the tale of a man desperate to wrestle back control of his life. In spectacular fashion, Gilbert manages to fall foul of both the establishment and the city’s sinister underworld and only has his powers of creativity to outwit his adversaries and their conflicting agendas.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Architect-Charles-Bancroft/dp/0956321704

Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House by Eric Hodgins

The book begins in fictional Landsdale County, Connecticut, where Jim and Muriel Blandings are being shown an old farmhouse by a real estate agent. Blandings, a successful New York advertising executive, and his wife want to leave their tiny Midtown apartment, where they live with their two daughters. They fantasize that the farmhouse will meet their needs. After some negotiation, they buy the house.

They soon learn that the house is structurally unsound and must be torn down. They design the perfect home in the country, imagining an idyll, but they are quickly beset by construction troubles, temperamental workmen, skyrocketing bills, threatening lawyers, and difficult neighbors. The Blandings’ dream house soon threatens to be the nightmare that undoes them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Blandings_Builds_His_Dream_House_(novel)

The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson

The book is set in Chicago circa 1893, intertwining the true tales of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the serial killer who lured his victims to their deaths in his elaborately constructed “Murder Castle”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_in_the_White_City

The Spire by William Golding

Jocelin, the dean of the cathedral, directs the construction of a towering spire funded by his aunt, Lady Alison, a former mistress of the King. The project is carried on against the advice of many, and in particular the warnings of the master builder, Roger Mason. The cathedral has insufficient foundations to support a spire of the magnificence demanded by Jocelin, but he believes he has been chosen by God to erect a great spire to exalt the town and to bring its people closer to God.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spire

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

The French title refers to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, on which the story is centred, and it is also a metaphor for Esmeralda, who is the center of the human drama within the story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunchback_of_Notre-Dame

The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen

Halvard Solness, the master builder, has become the most successful builder in his home town by a fortunate series of coincidences. He had previously conceived these in his mind, powerfully wished for them to come to pass, but never actually did anything about them. By the time his wife’s ancestral home was destroyed by a fire in a clothes cupboard, he had already imagined how he could cause such an accident and then profit from it by dividing the land on which the house stood into plots and covering it with homes for sale. Between this fortuitous occurrence and some chance misfortunes of his competitors Solness comes to believe that he has only to wish for something to happen in order for it to come about.[3] He rationalises this as a particular gift from God, bestowed so that, through his unnatural success, he can carry out His ordained work of church building.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Master_Builder

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

The book is set in the huge castle of Gormenghast, a vast landscape of crumbling towers and ivy-filled quadrangles that has for centuries been the hereditary residence of the Groan family and with them a legion of servants. The Groan family is headed by Lord Sepulchrave the seventy-sixth Earl of Groan. He is a melancholy man who feels shackled by his duties as Earl, although he never questions them. His only escape is reading in his library.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus_Groan

Original Sin by P.D. James

Original Sin is a 1994 detective novel in the Adam Dalgliesh series by P. D. James. It is set in London, mainly in Wapping in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, and centers around the city’s oldest publishing house, Peverell Press, headquartered in a mock-Venetianpalace on the River Thames.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_Sin_(novel)

Little, Big by John Crowley

Little, Big is the epic story of the Drinkwater family and their relationship with the mostly obscured world of Faery. It is set in and around their eccentric country house, called Edgewood, in New England somewhere north of “the City”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little,_Big

The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan

Christine (author) combats Meun’s misogynist beliefs by creating an allegorical city of ladies. She defends women by collecting a wide array of famous females throughout history. These women are “housed” in the City of Ladies, which is actually Christine’s book. As Christine builds her city, she uses each famous woman as a building block for not only the walls and houses of the city, but also as building blocks for her defense of female rights. Each woman added to the city adds to Christine’s argument towards women as active participants in society. She also advocates for female and male equality within the realm of education.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_the_City_of_Ladies

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

The Landauers, a recently married couple, commission German architect Rainer von Abt to build a modern house in Czechoslovakia. The Landauer House, based on the Villa Tugendhat, becomes a minimalist masterpiece, with a transparent glass room as its center. World War II arrives, and they must flee the country, with their happiness and idealism in tatters. As the Landauers struggle abroad, their home passes through several new owners, with each new inhabitant falling under the spell of the glass room.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Glass_Room

City Of The Mind by Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively is one of England’s greatest living writers. In City of the Mind, Matthew Halland is an architect intimately involved with the new face of London, while haunted by the destruction and loss in its history. Matthew has a rich and moving relationship with his daughter Jane, and becomes entangled with an array of fascinating characters, from Rutter, a corrupt real estate developer whose Mafia-like ways disgust him, to Sarah, a romantic ray of hope who enters his life. In Lively’s most ambitious novel, she has created a wonderfully rich and audacious confrontation with the mystery of London.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Mind-Penelope-Lively/dp/0140156674

 

If you have some good books relating to architecture, please share it with us.

What is Good Architecture

November 2nd, 2012

This blog is made up of selected comments made on LinkedIn.

 

What is good Architecture?

Is it timeless, does it enhance the human spirit, does it add value to the clients business, does it improve mankind?

 

Please understand the difference between Iconic Architecture and Good Architecture. Although Iconic Architecture can also be a good architecture but this discussion is only on what makes a good architecture.

 

Marty Swiderski starts off the discussion with the question; what is good Architecture? He further questions the notion of “Good Architecture”

Is it timeless?

Does it enhance the human spirit?

Doe it add value to clients’ business?

Does it improve mankind?

 

Can good architecture be defined from the answers of these 4 questions? Or is there even a definite answer to “What is Good Architecture?”

 

Carlos Zamudio points out, “The answer to this question is very similar to what you reply to what is good music or any other art. It is partly objective but mainly subjective.”

 

Marty disagrees about Architecture being subjective, “Architecture is not subjective like Art is in the eyes of the beholder. Good Architecture serves many functions; some functions may be obvious and some functions may be subconscious. Good Architecture is multi-functional and has many dimensions conscious and subconscious. Timeless Architecture serves many years into our life time and into our children’s life time and still looks like it was constructed today.”

There are few things we can learn from Marty’s comment.

FirstlyGood Architecture serves many functions; some functions may be obvious and some functions may be subconscious.”  From this we can derive that Good architecture must serve its purpose. The function of the spaces created should be well executed and well thought. A living room should not be the same size as the toilet. A good architect should be able to design Good functional architectural spaces regardless of the plot size, orientation, shape etc.

Dost Muhammad seems to agree; “A good Architecture is a solution which makes life easy and comfort for living…”

So does Ghazal Alizadeh; “My opinion, good architecture what to give users a sense of security and comfort and convenience.”

Deniz Sevki Kayabay shares the same opinion “GOOD Architecture is the architecture that serves your functional needs with respect, make you feel comfortable and delighted as well as amused…”

Antonio Danel Diaz takes it to another level “Good Architecture is that one that has scale, proportion, harmony and also a bit of surprise and mystery. It should enhance the human spirit. It has to be planned very carefully in every detail, and the people that sees and inhabit it feel and do whatever they are going to do; happily and comfortable and why not, fun and with serenity”.

Secondly “… some functions may be subconscious”. To my understanding subconscious functions are ideas or concepts that have no fixed regulation but is still needed to make a Good architectural product.  As Mark Demmerle explains “Good architecture is about rhythm, hierarchy, scale and, proportion”. So it is not enough that you create a dining room that can fit a dining table fulfilling its purpose. The space must also be scaled to the right size and proportion, rhythm in the interior design and hierarchy in the placement of the rooms.
What about the exterior? As James Matley puts it simply “A building you do not notice because it blends with its environment with respect and harmony.

These two points by Marty can be summarized by Bernard Humphery – Gaskin Good architecture is artistically acceptable to its environment; it’s in harmony with its human needs; and it stirs the soul and elevates the human spirit….”

Third point from Marty is “Timeless Architecture serves many years into our life time and into our children’s life time and still looks like it was constructed today.”  Using sound construction method and materials with the understanding of the environmental factors can help the longevity of the building.

Watson Ng Andu agrees “Good Architecture must stand the test of time.” Although he sees an obstacle “The challenge is that the architectural environment is subject of change whether in urban or natural landscapes, hills, valleys, deserts or coastlines.”

To sum up what Marty was saying, I will quote Natalie Rice “All buildings, according to Vitruvius should have the qualities of firmitas (strength or durability) utilitas (usefulness) and venustas (beauty)”

Firmitatis and utilitatis is objective while venustatis is subjective

Author: Town House Design

What is architecture?

October 12th, 2012

Beside walls, roof, windows, what exactly is architecture? Below are some of the thoughts from well know architects. My favourite is Lebbeus Woods

“Berlin Free-Zone 3-2,” a 1990 proposal by Lebbeus Woods for an abandoned government building in reunified Berlin.

LEBBEUS WOODS

I think architecture is about ideas in the first place. You don’t get to design until you have an idea. That idea has to be somewhat comprehensive. There’s always a client asking for a building. If you’re an architect, you’ll design the building. But if you’re a dutiful architect, you first have to question why the building is required. The architect has to take responsibility to participate in the rationale of the building and not just to design. The architect can either say we don’t need this building and walk away, or maybe we need a different kind of building. That’s why I don’t have a lot of clients.
Architecture requires the critical questioning of many things—it’s not just a thoughtful carrying out of a client’s wishes.

architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, by definition. But, as a multi-disciplinary field, our ideas have to be comprehensive; I think architects – at least those inclined to understand the multi-disciplinarity and the comprehensive nature of their field – have to visualize something that embraces all these political, economic, and social changes. As well as the technological. As well as the spatial.

I wrote some years back, architecture is a political act, by nature. It has to do with the relationships between people and how they decide to change their conditions of living. And architecture is a prime instrument of making that change – because it has to do with building the environment they live in, and the relationships that exist in that environment.

EVA HARLOU

Architecture is handcraft. Architecture is art. Most of all architecture is framing human life. With architecture comes a great responsibility of trying to understand the human nature.

I’m convinced that architecture has to be functional, durable and beautiful. Furthermore it’s very important to me that my architecture reveals a clear and understandable concept – tells a simple story. I don’t believe that “less is more”, but I enjoy when simple and beautiful geometrical shapes solve all challenges in a project. Architecture doesn’t have to be difficult and I don’t think that innovative architecture has to look like something exploded.

THOM MAYNE

What is architecture really? It is taking our world view, how we exist, how we deal with each other in a civil society, and it concertizes it, it makes it permanent, It makes it evident. The social act and the aesthetic act comes together.

Architecture is a public act: It can only finally be about our social space: connections between people, a public space, the connective tissue.

PETER ZUMTOR

Architecture is a sensuous art, because it is perceived with the senses.
If you like a house or an inner space, perhaps a living room or a church, it is something you feel, not something you think. Of course, the mind comes into play too, as it is through experience that we understand how buildings work, and so there is a certain empiricism at work. But the most important thing is emotional understanding. This cannot always be rationalized or summoned at will. It is often just there.

Architecture is partly based on the sense of touch. Materials used in architecture are the equivalent of notes for the composer. I work with all materials, and like them all. The interest lies in finding ever-new ways to put the notes together – to achieve a specific final sound.

RAIMUND ABRAHAM

I consider architecture a discipline, not a profession. Considering the classic periods of architecture, architecture was more or less confined to the sacred and political power. Architecture represented a spiritual device and now it is considered that it should merely ornament our lives.

For me architecture’s role is to elevate the profane with the sacred. If you succeed in making architecture, the sacred has to prevail. That means that in the most profane or the most pragmatic program, the program always has to succumb to this period of the sacred whether it is a small house, a cathedral or a temple.

BJARKE INGELS

Architecture seems to be entrenched in two equally unfertile fronts: Either naively utopian or petrifying pragmatic.

We believe that there is a third way wedged in the no mans land between the diametrical opposites. Or in the small but very fertile overlap between the two. A pragmatic utopian architecture that takes on the creation of socially, economically and environmentally perfect places as a practical objective. In our projects we test the effects of scale and the balance of programmatic mixtures on the social, economical and ecological outcome. Like a form of programmatic alchemy we create architecture by mixing conventional ingredients such as living, leisure, working, parking and shopping.

DILLER & SCOFIDIO

DILLER:
Architecture is formed by forces outside the architect’s control, You’re at the mercy of endless vagaries. There is the constant back-and-forth between the intended idea and the reality.

Architecture is the most materially cumbersome and geographically fixed form of cultural expression. How can it represent a moving target, such as new media or other urgent cultural and social issues?

SCOFIDIO: Architecture is everything technology is not: inert and geographically fixed. The best role for architecture, outside of smart design, is to be a supple shell for the continuous updating of the building’s nervous system.

Architecture is nothing other than special effects. With Blur, the technology was extensive, expensive, and very complicated–both hardware and software–but our intention was to sublimate the technology into only and simply effect. It was like a magic trick. A great effect that took a lot of artifice–and few asked how it was done.

Architecture carries with it an external program. We do, however, always find ways of integrating our independent agendas into the program and the work.

 

Give us your thought on “WHAT IS ARCHITECTURE?”