David Myres, Associate Director of ADAM Architecture and CEDIA Awards judge explains the importance of consultants working together on residential projects
I was lucky enough to be asked to be a CEDIA Awards judge this year. One of the privileges of being on the panel was the opportunity to see a wide range of projects which neatly combined great interior design with smart home technology.
Whilst most of the discussion surrounding the judging was focussed on the technical aspect, I was very interested in seeing how successfully the design of such installations had been organised. After all, at the heart of every great project are the three c’s - communication, collaboration and coordination.
Almost invariably, the most successful projects combined the technical and installation expertise of a home technology professional, with the design knowledge and implementation of other consultants, including an interior designer, architect and/or lighting designer.
We always recommend that our clients appoint all consultants as early in a project as is possible, as we all need to work together in the beginning stages. This will allow the team to anticipate key decisions which, if not allowed for, might result in expensive unpicking of either design or building work.
Of course, we don’t mean that from the outset of a project we need to know what particular tap is going to be specified, or carpet material will be chosen. We are talking about the factors which impact on the overall design.
Much of the work that ADAM Architecture undertakes is the high end residential properties. Our clients come to us because we design traditional, classical and vernacular buildings. However, this style doesn’t mean that the client doesn’t want 21st century technology integrated into the home. To achieve this, and to not disrupt from the design and style of the property, the cabling for the technology needs to be in place at the beginning stage of the project.
For projects to be successful, careful consideration has to be given to the planning, design and coordination between all those involved in the design and AV installation. It is important to have one party responsible for the coordination of all the information, which should include a set of detailed drawings to show every element of the designs and how they all fit together. This is usually the role of an architect or a good interior designer.
We generally recommend that every room is drawn up by us, at a scale that includes all the visible elements of the room. We then incorporate other consultants’ information into these drawings. The client, in particular, will then be able to see what a room will look like in every detail and will also see what the impact of the less sexy things (depending on your point of view) like power points, data points and speakers is likely to be. This provides the client with the reassurance that everything will fit, and work together.
The drawings provide the consultants with the opportunity to review the effect of their design in relation to others. Such highly detailed drawings are also vital to the quantity surveyor in compiling and developing cost plans and budget estimates which are fed back to the client for their review and approval.
Above all, these coordinated drawings, once approved by the client, are the instructions that we issue to the contractor to enable them to build the house or interior. If they feel that the drawings are as complete as is reasonably possible, and coordinated proficiently, then they will have confidence and reassurance that they can proceed with their work in the most efficient and cost effective manner. Making such a package relies on clear decision making, detailed coordination of all the information from the consultant team and a responsive and experienced contractor who appreciates the level of work that goes into such a project in advance of implementation.
We think that this type of approach is more likely to lead to a higher quality of project. If I am lucky enough to return to the CEDIA Awards judging panel next year, I hope to see evidence of communication, collaboration and coordination between architects, designers and home technology professionals.