Readers are concerned with matters of design, arguing the case for crazy and silly shapes, suggesting that there are better nuclear plants on the way and voicing concerns over liability in the use of BIM

Don’t ban silliness

Ken Shuttleworth’s advocacy of inside-out design is a well-worn theme. The sector’s unsung heroes are often the architects and engineers who make impressive-looking concepts actually work.

The form-follows-function model doesn’t mean that practical buildings have to be dull though, and his suggestion that we should focus on building “beautiful, simple, rectangular forms” doesn’t quite cut it for me. I applaud architecture that brings a softer human face to the industrial, a nurturing side to health and education, that simplifies my journey or enhances my leisure. If it comes in the form of a “crazy shape” or “silly profile” then bring it on.

David Rycroft, Morgan Sindall Professional Services

Nuclear? Not yet!

Your cover stated “We need nuclear now” (8 July) - well, no; not yet? The thing is (and some of your contributors are not going to like this), China is apparently busy developing a safe alternative to uranium-fuelled reactors, using thorium - an element in abundant supply and without the chain reaction that makes uranium potentially so dangerous. The basic technology is known to work, and with China’s immense power station building programme as a home market, the export price will presumably become unbeatable.

Pity, but it looks as if we should sit and wait for a year or so more.

Ian Macpherson

Whose design is it anyway?

Rise of the machines”, may take QSs nearer to understanding what BIM is, but will leave other readers puzzled.

Who will produce and be paid to produce this model? Who will own it? Who will be responsible for its accuracy, and that it comprises the building the client wants? As presumably a written specification will still be required, who will coordinate input? Is the model flexible enough to accommodate the differing forms of the design process e.g. novation, different stages for different levels of design completion …?

There may be a further problem. There has for many years been legal guidance that a designer should not make decisions involving the designs of his fellow professionals. If he does, he exposes himself to liability for matters beyond his founding discipline. In other words, safest that he stays in his own back yard. Then if he does face negligence attack, he has only to produce his own design documents to defend himself. Such protection becomes more problematic if he has to rely on a single design model for evidence, when the model may have blurred the boundaries between each profession’s contribution to the total design. The converse may also be true: if one party intends to attack another party, he may find it more difficult to find the evidence he needs from a total design model.

These issues will arise when more than one discipline contributes to a design model and those who become involved in BIM should be aware of these potential hazards.

Malcolm Taylor, FRICS