Designing in Building Adaptability and Flexibility of Use

Simon Taylor
The future adaptability and flexibility of use of many building projects we deliver on behalf of our clients is often high on their list of priorities.

This challenge is never greater than on highly serviced buildings such as the new build Science Centre at the University of Wolverhampton’s Science Park, where Faithful+Gould was commissioned to deliver project management, cost management and health & safety services.

The primary goal of the client was to make the building as adaptable as possible, at minimal cost, to suit the needs of the client’s future tenants whilst at the same time minimising waste and disruption. This was very important to the University as the size of their future tenants and their specific service requirements would be almost impossible to predict given their nature as SMEs in the Science and Technology sector.

Stakeholder management

Understanding the main stakeholder requirements was key to project success. We arranged a series of in-depth design discussions between the design team and the client’s key stakeholders to establish the design objectives for the building.

Once the principal design objectives were agreed, we ensured all subsequent design proposals were developed to meet these objectives. This approach proved invaluable when design change was occasionally considered enabling the project to successfully satisfy its key objectives.

Sector experience

Our extensive experience delivering other large-scale, highly serviced buildings brought vital knowledge to these discussions and allowed us to ensure innovative solutions were identified and decisions were made, ensuring optimum balance between affordability and flexibility of use.

For example, we were aware that some scientific equipment requires very specific conditions along with significant and sometimes unusual service provision for them to operate. Provision of such services and conditions throughout the laboratories would have been very expensive and practically impossible. Reasonable service distribution was therefore provided to all laboratories but a shared equipment facility was also established to house a wide range of scientific equipment for use by the tenants.

This meant tenants would have access to advanced scientific equipment necessary to support their research without the need for regular, expensive and disruptive building infrastructure modifications within their own laboratories.

Effective cost management

We closely monitored the design development to ensure the project remained within budget. Detailed cost estimates were produced early in the design development stage and regularly updated. Any concerns were raised to the design team for effective and innovative solutions to be sourced in a timely manner. As a result, tenders were received within budget. The quality and integrity of the design meant design change post contract was minimal for the size and complexity of this sort of project. When enhancements were necessary to explore, we employed a strict change control procedure to ensure the time and cost impacts of any changes were known and approved by the client before they were instructed.

Our approach to the project and cost management of the scheme ensured the project was delivered within budget and to the great satisfaction of our client. The building is progressively being filled by tenants who are all delighted that the building meets their specific needs to support their businesses.

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