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Opportunity knocks with integrated design

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I was interested to read David Squires' letter (AJ 8.6.00). As an engineer I came into contact with architecture while working at Arup Associates. I started a practice in 1996 with the aim of addressing the design issues you raise and I intend to emphasise integrated design in my role as President of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers in 2001.

The problems (or opportunities) seem to me to be as follows:

Firstly, overall energy use of a building depends on the overall design, and issues such as thermal capacity and natural lighting are associated with a need for shading and ventilation openings; all of which have an impact on the architecture of a building.

Secondly, when one comes to the individual design of pipework one has to remember that the network of pipes and wires in a building is not repetitive in the way that the structure and room spaces are. The network usually starts as a large component at a central point in the building and distributes throughout the building, becoming increasingly diffuse. The network is dendritic and has to be overlaid onto a building grid.

As an engineer I find this kind of thinking is not helpful to most architects while they are doing the conceptual design for a building. The architect has to embrace these ideas. Lord Rogers at the Pompidou and also at Lloyd's has been supremely successful. If an architect takes this lead, any engineer worth his salt will follow. As an engineer I find few architects who are prepared to take the lead from me.

In this current climate of opinion, detailed design is supposed to be delegated down the line. This undermines my aspiration to persuade intelligent entrants to the consulting engineering field to take design on board and treat detailing of pipe-work as a worthwhile activity. This undermining takes place because clients are not prepared to pay for consulting engineers to think in this way.

Sprinkler installations are a good example of pipework that is traditionally drawn and detailed properly if not with design flair. I have drawn all the pipework in some changing rooms with every pipe fitting defined and every pipe located. In order to make an obsessionally tidy array, the route of pipework had to be chosen at a conceptual level to avoid complicated crossovers.

We do want attitudes to change and I would very much like to talk to David Squires about this issue.

Max Fordham, Max Fordham & Partners, President of CIBSE

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