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CAS should press ahead and target building users


'You read out the job leads and find three people have phoned up about roof extensions.' This is presidential hopeful David Thorp on the subject of the RIBA's muchmaligned Clients'Advisory Service (page 23).The criticism is coupled with the suggestion that more resources should be channelled into marketing, specifically advertisements in the national papers.

However, it is tricky to justify such measures for such a cash-strapped institution.This week's building study - Richard Partington Architects'speculative office building for the Kings Hill business park in Kent - highlights an area where there is a desperate need for client advice.

As Peter Carolin points out (page 26), the layout suggests many possibilities. Areas either side of the entrance hall are an obvious location for meeting rooms, while spaces adjacent to French windows would make ideal break-out and coffee areas.Yet the client has failed to pick up on this.Space planning is, of course, a wellestablished discipline.But it tends to be the preserve of clients who have the confidence and resources to commission a bespoke building or to pay for relocation advice.There are many more humble institutions which are unaware of the way in which this kind of advice can contribute to image, efficiency and staff morale.But how do you market architectural expertise to an audience which does not think it needs an architect?

Rather than marketing itself as a dating agency between architects and clients, perhaps CAS should target the business press, presenting itself as a consultancy offering advice on the way building occupation can contribute to corporate success.Rather than providing the client with a list of architects, it could quote a day rate for consultancy, select an appropriate architect, and subcontract the work. Pocketing a percentage of the architect's fee could make the strategy cost-efficient, and would not be unreasonable given that this type of work tends to be more profitable than the small domestic project which constitutes the archetypal CAS commission. And the opportunity to forge a relationship with a corporate client could be an intelligent investment.

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