How do you deliver creativity?

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Ever come up with a brilliant design idea, only to cancel it because there is too much regulation to deal with.

Maybe you want rainwater to collect in a custom-made gutter collecting to a chain line integrated with low maintenance landscaping. Or maybe you want a building that is equally accessible to everyone.

Why is creativity and simple design ideas so complicated?

Why does it constantly feel like an uphill battle against regulation?

A few years ago, I had a project where I designed a simple roof form to create a feature entrance into a community building. I thought it was relatively simple, boy was I wrong. So many hurdles so many requirements.

Why are regulations so complicated?

The main document we had to comply with was the Building Code of Australia (BCA) which forms chapters 1 and 2 of the National Construction Code (NCC).

The BCA was established to achieve a nationally consistent, minimum set of standards for construction. It contains technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures and covers matters such as structure, fire resistance, access and egress, services and equipment, energy efficiency and certain aspects of health and amenity.

Regulation, with options?

There are two ways we could comply with the BCA. This dual approach is designed to provide a strong degree of certainty but provide a high degree of flexibility.

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Deemed-to-satisfy (DTS) provisions in the BCA prescribe various methods of design and construction, if used automatically result in compliance with the performance requirements.

DTS is a yes or no process with very little wiggle room. I found myself-trying to argue regulation and the logic and simplicity of the design. But the regulator was having none of it.

How to work the system?

Proposing creating solutions to complex building problems requires an understanding of the minimum level of performance that buildings and building elements must meet.

So, we tried a different strategy. We tried to assess the risk, quantify the problem and then propose solutions that would address the risk and allow the elements of the building to meet the minimum performance requirements expected.

This is where a good architect can extract maximum value from a project. Problem solving is what we do best. Creative images are easy but making them compliant is challenging.  Getting it right will often save money and deliver innovative and unique designs outcomes.

Top tips to deliver creativity

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1. Process not outcome. Understanding the process will help deliver creative outcomes.

    Give yourself the opportunity for ideas to develop through a structured process where they are tested and analysed and evaluated.

    2. Assess the risk, what are the performance requirements as a whole system

      The Building Code of Australia allows creative designs as long as it meets the minimum performance requirements using one of more of the prescribed assessment methods, or commonly known as a performance solution.

      In the case of my design, the risk was for water to enter the building.

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      3. Assess the performance outcomes against the performance requirements in the BCA.

      As long as we can show the design will be watertight we can demonstrate a methodology to deliver a compliant design. In this case we found this process allowed us to adopt standard materials and building components to improve speed of construction and work with traditional construction processes.

      4. Identify individual components of the system and their performance requirements

      By having a deep understanding of the process of construction and tested qualified assessment methodologies allowed us to deliver a unique and innovative design. In addition to the use of a combination of assessment methods it allowed us to have flexibility with the selection of individual components that contributed to the whole. It allowed us to test construction innovation and value engineering solutions.

      Ultimately it allowed us greater flexibility in delivering the project.

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      5. Inspect construction

      There is no point in designing innovation if you don’t deliver it and get the benefits of it. On this project I climbed on the roof, closely inspected the waterproofing layers, made sure the specified products were used on site and kept excellent records to protect the client and the project.

      Use them wisely

      The single biggest advantage of using performance-based solutions are they allow innovation without an increase to risk. If done right they can help save time and/or money. They allow you to think outside the box and allow flexibility in the use of materials and forms of construction or design while still allowing acceptable existing building practices.