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BCO 2014: Derwent boss tells architects not to'over-spec’

Too many buildings are over-specified and fail to cater to changing occupier demands.

That is according to the chief executive of developer Derwent London, who told delegates at the British Council for Offices’ annual conference today that flexibility is key when designing the modern workplace.

John Burns said that occupiers should be at the heart of plans for a new building. Rather than “over-designing” a new office, flexibility with regard space, layout, function and design should be incorporated into the building to enable the occupier to adapt the workplace to its needs over the duration of the lease.

‘Architects and designers should be involved in or informed of leasing discussions at a much earlier stage so they have a better understanding of who and what they are designing the building for,’ he added.

Burns’ comments came as the BCO unveiled the latest edition of its Guide to Specification at its conference in Birmingham this afternoon.

The full guide, due to be published later this year, makes fresh recommendations on workplace density to take into account the rise of flexible working.

The 2009 guide reflected the increasing intensity of office use by recommending space allocation of between 8 and 13m² per person. The 2014 research notes that average density per person has dropped to between 8 and 10m² as employees increasingly work remotely or in collaborative office areas.

BCO chief executive Richard Kauntze said: “Businesses must realise that one size will never fit all as offices reflect the increasingly diverse needs of employees.

“The preview of the BCO’s Guide to Specification reinforces this view and includes useful advice for occupiers on how to make the most of their office, a significant cost for a business, that if understood properly can work for them as an asset.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Having been an Registered Architect for 35 years I know of only one item being over speced and that was door hardware for a library in the desert which was speced as chrome on stainless steel. I know many many cases of roofs, windows, stucco under speced and the first group that will sue will be the developer. My advise is spec what you as an Architect feel is required & then let the owner/developer de-spec the item in writing. When I was in my 40's working for a 50 man Architectural firm the controlling partner called everyone to a meeting in the drafting room & he stated he just got back from court & the case was over a failed product which was a contractors substitution. He said 5 years ago all the firms Architects had rejected this substitution & the contractor appealed to him he asked the contractor you are positive this will work just as well as the specified product 'oh yes sir no problem". In court the said "I am not capable of substituting a product. I am just a poor country boy that man is a college educated Architect he is responsible for the product failure". So firm owners don't over rule your staff Architects & don't approve substitutions.

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