Choosing to work with an architect
It's important to remember that architects are experts at unlocking the potential of a site or building and can usually add substantially to the value of a property, far out-weighing the fees they charge.
There is quite a lot of information out there about the general benefits of employing an architect. Please see the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) guide here for example.
Big office expertise, small office fees
It almost goes without saying that a small office with low overheads can pass on substantial savings to the client. But small offices also give you a direct relationship with the main architect unlike most larger practices where, even though your initial meeting may be with a senior partner, your work is likely to be carried out by someone much more junior.
Every project is different but there are some guiding principles that we apply to everything we work on.
Context - We never employ a particular 'style' to be reproduced regardless of location. We aim to make buildings that are firmly rooted in their context.
Simplicity - We are always looking to create interesting and inspiring spaces but that shouldn't come at the expense of buildability. Sometimes the most simple and buildable solutions are the best.
Working in 3d – unlike many architects we work in 3d from very early on and use computer models as a working tool to examine the complexities of the building often producing walk-through animations. Please see examples below.
Stages of a project
For most projects we divide the work up into 4 stages with a report and payment at each stage.
Stage 1: Feasibility and concept design
This is perhaps the most important stage of the project and where we can add the most value.
We will meet with you to discuss your requirements and begin to formulate a brief. For small projects we can carry out our own survey. For more complex projects we may need to bring in a specialist surveying company to take accurate measurements of your site or building. In Devon we normally recommend using Quadrant Surveys based in Dartington.
Using the initial brief we then develop some outline proposals. As well as producing 2d plans, very early on we tend to begin building a working 3d computer model that can be adapted as the project develops.
We will present our ideas to you – there may be several options - and agree on a scheme to take forward into the developed design stage.
Stage 2: Developed design
We will work up the scheme in more detail in order to gain the necessary permissions from the planning authority.
Sometimes this can be done under Permitted Development rights. Sometimes it is necessary to submit a pre-application inquiry with fairly basic information in order to get informal feedback from the council which can then be used to inform the design. In other cases it can be better to go straight in for full planning permission. We can advise on the options available.
For a full planning application our portion of work will typically include 2 and 3d drawings and a Planning Report which explains the rational behind the design. For sensitive sites it is sometimes necessary to back this up with a Visual Impact Assessment which will typically contain montage views of the building in context from agreed locations. We will also co-ordinate other consultants that may be required at this stage. Depending on the site and the level of intervention it may be necessary to commission, for example, an Ecological, Drainage or Contamination survey.
Stage 3: Full design
At this stage we produce detailed drawings which show all elements of the building and explain how all materials and components fit together. Along with the structural engineer we will submit these drawings to the local authority to ensure that the project complies with all the safety legislation and other requirements covered by the Building Regulations.
Alongside the set of drawings we will draw up a detailed specification listing all the fixtures and fittings and describing the construction of the work. The entire package can then be tendered to one or more builders.
Stage 4: Tender and Construction
Once you and the builder are ready to start construction we will act as the Contract Administrator and make regular site visits to monitor the progress and check on design quality.
Working in 3d Example - Extension to Grade II listed building in Cheltenham
As architects we often take it for granted that people can read plans, sections and elevations but this is not always the case. At Field Studio we often produce walkthrough animations straight from or modelling software to communicate ideas with clients or other interested parties - this might include builders pricing a job or representatives from the Planning Authority.