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Consulting Engineers

Should architects consider Temporary Works in their designs?

While I can appreciate that most architects are not trained in temporary works design, as are most structural engineers for that matter, but Architects are designers. According to the CDM regulations, now in its third edition, all designers should consider on how their intended design should be built.

While I am not suggesting that all architects enrol on structural engineering courses for temporary works, it would be beneficial to them and to the project if they consulted with an appropriately qualified structural engineer with experience in temporary works design, to see if what they are proposing is feasible and can be built in a safe and economic manner. The level of the advice or involvement at the early stages of a project would depend on the complexity of the project, the experience of the architect and the type and condition of the building if it is a refurbishment.

It is surely in the interests of all parties that temporary works requirements are considered at an early stage. This means that, as described in the CDM Regulations, permanent works designers (which includes Architects), should consider how the work is likely to be done and tenderers should give proper consideration to the proposed construction methods. (This should be a requirement of all tenders and included in the Architect’s tender documentation.) When the work is given such attention, all parties benefit from having the most cost-efficient temporary works. This will also ensure that the project is constructed in the safest manner to the benefit of all parties, including the client.

So, how can Architects and other designers consider temporary works in their designs? If they develop responses to the following questions, they will go some way to complying with this requirement. (Not all of them will necessarily be relevant to a particular project.)

  • In what way can I be assured that the permanent works design solution is developed to minimise risk from temporary conditions?
  • In what way can I be assured that those temporary conditions of the permanent works that need temporary works to control them minimise the extent and complexity of the temporary works, eliminating, substituting and reducing them so far as reasonably practicable to minimise the risk overall?
  • In what way can I be assured that the requirements for temporary works will be communicated effectively, with all criteria for performance, including sensitivities?
  • In what way can I be assured that the risks from the temporary conditions and temporary works are appropriately allocated and managed, in particular that the temporary conditions and temporary works will be managed competently and safely on site?
  • In what way can I be assured that the resources deployed (at all stages, including design of both permanent and temporary works) have the competence, time and resources to do the above?
  • In what way can I be assured that the Appointed Lead Designer (if not the Architect) gives due priority to risks from temporary conditions and temporary works?
  • How can I be assured that the structuring of the procurement strategy, and the influences that are applied, are not deleterious in any way to temporary works safety?

I appreciate that this is not necessarily the most exciting part of an Architect’s design process, but we all have a duty of care to consider all aspects of a project, and that also includes temporary works. The earlier this is considered in the design process, the better for all parties. Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you on this matter.

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