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Classicists 'frustrated' by modern-day contracts

Classicist architects Liam O'Connor and John Simpson have joined the bandwagon to openly criticise design-and-build contracts.

The two architects were involved in the redesign and redevelopment of Dickens Heath village centre, Solihull, but were both left 'frustrated' by how the scheme was handled.

John Simpson said: 'It [design and build] is a dreadful way to work really, as it keeps designers at arm's length. It makes it impossible for the design to be upheld throughout the project.'

Although both architects admit the project 'turned out better than expected' and that it is 'in general a successful development', both agree the finer details of the design were lost.

'It went swimmingly in the first stage,' Simpson continued. 'We put the brief together, the masterplan was agreed, various architects were allocated certain buildings and it seemed to work well.

'We then went to a detailed design stage, but it was rather misused. In fact, the buildings were built before the detailed design stage was completed, and many architects weren't even consulted during the second stage.'

O'Connor was equally disappointed by the scheme's treatment, highlighting the problem being specifically in the details.

'It's frustrating,' he said. 'We all put a great deal of effort into the design to create a better space, by using natural stone for example. And although the finished product looks fine, the detail is not there. They [the contractors] have used reconstituted stone, presumably to cut costs.'

by Richard Vaughan

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