Sweden recognises the value of architects doing the whole job
Our work, now nearing completion, on the restoration of the Swedish Ambassador's residence, has included renovation of the James Adam state reception rooms, together with the creation of a series of self-contained apartments for senior diplomatic staff.
Because the National Property Board of Sweden owns, manages, and cares for a substantial proportion of its country's national monuments and state facilities, it has extensive expertise in engaging professional teams for projects ranging from small follies to the new Rafael Moneo gallery in Stockholm and include all overseas diplomatic accommodation.
Our appointment terms required us to provide all professional services, and it is essential in these circumstances that you choose each sub-consultant very carefully. Their performance will reflect more than ever on your reputation and the project's success. However, you should ensure that sub-consultants warrant their work directly with the client: this will at least give you some protection in the unfortunate event of any mistakes on their part which result in a claim.
Fee agreements must provide for stage payments which are acceptable to the sub-consultants, as your team's performance is dependent upon maintaining an adequate cash flow (note that 'pay when paid' conditions are now illegal and must not be imposed by you on sub-consultants).
There was evident client interest and pleasure in working with a uk-trained and uk-based architect. Apparently, there is normally a divide in Sweden, as in many other countries, between the 'design architect' and those who provide the subsequent technical work (that is, stages ef and g), and the construction inspection and contract duties.
We were amongst a short-list of firms that the Swedes believed would be able to deliver a traditional architectural service from inception to completion. They particularly wanted a team which could effectively reconcile the conflicting demands of the listed-building authorities, the client's aspirations for change, the constraints of structural and servicing requirements, and the overriding financial and programme framework within which the project had to be delivered.
It is interesting that the basic formal education developed under the riba does provide the scope of experience appropriate for the wider service preferred by this client. Those who believe that the later stages of our architectural services can be easily transferred to other disciplines should remember that the architectural skills and interest routinely avail- able in the uk are much appreciated by clients from other countries who have experienced more limited input by their own architects.
Many teachers argue that the skills necessary to complement basic design ability can, and should, be learned outside the academic environment. This view must be challenged because the appreciation of the wider agenda (buildability, environmental amenity, cost control, etc) that is an essential part of the process that informs the design brief and design strategy for a project must begin at architects' formative stage of training.
All this severely questions the notion that the appointment of an architect can be routinely fragmented into different stages: a design architect, a production-stage team, and a contract supervisor. This fragmentation is much loved by those qss whose insatiable desire to meddle with the traditional riba plan of work so often causes havoc to project processes and damage to their outcome; but we should remain aware of the dismay with which many will view the loss of continuity and the limitation to the value that the architect can contribute to a project where his involvement is not maintained from inception to completion.
Surprisingly, our service even extended beyond the normal plan of work. Asked to recommend a property agent to search out temporary accommodation for the ambassador and his staff, we did it ourselves. Our fee for this work is justified by the reluctance that some embassy staff have shown for the return to their Portland Place home when hand-over occurs later this month.