The industry can do far more in the fields of collaboration and on site safety in order to achieve higher standards, according to industry experts.
Speaking at the UAE Infrastructure Summit a panel discussion focused on the quality of both work and completed projects across the Middle East.
Ala Hason vice president of HKS Architects said: “As architects all we care about is the design and it being built according to our vision. Buildings are about dreams for an architect, but for a contractor they about schedules and cost.
“For clients – they would like to have all three.”
Martin Seward-Case of BWA Middle East defined what is actually meant by quality. He said: “It is the achievement of a minimum standard by a contractor – one that has been defined by the architect and the client. But we are very fractured as an industry. There is an adversarial nature which results in wastage between the various layers, along with duplication of cost. We are highly inefficient but there are some simple things that we can do.”
Carl McKenzie, director of building engineering for Aecom’s healthcare operations said the client has the job of balancing the various demands and needs of the design team, but he added that quality control and standards vary across the different sectors – with healthcare being far more stringent than others.
But the panel all agreed that Dubai has been successful in its effort to introduce and enforce standards.
Seward-Case said: “The standards are there for a very good reason. Dubai has done very well. Dubai is a young place but it has advanced quite a lot. You may have 20 or 30 guys in white coats making the standards. But they have to be implemented.”
He said the inspections of building standards are done on line so “de-personalising the process” which he felt was a good thing – although sometimes inconvenient and slow for the design and build team.
The panel agreed that more can be done on site to improve standards as well.
“Worker safety is important,” said Hason. “Sometimes [on a construction site] you see no hard hats, no safety glasses and there are cables everywhere.”
One solution to the lack of communication across the industry could be greater use of BIM said the panel.
Members said the contractors and suppliers should be bought into the design process at a far earlier stage and in much greater detail, so that a much more holistic approach is undertaken.
“When you are appointing people make them part of a global team to achieve the project goals,” said Hason. “We are seven years behind the western world when it comes to using BIM and we need to catch up.”