In a former life as a site manager, I was charged with carrying out £800,000 of modifications to a building designed by a signature designer of international renown. I had an outline programme, budget and a designer novated, for want of a better word, to the main (negotiated) contract. At one of the first design meetings I was entranced by the architect's description of an exotic translucent plywood that would be required if his creative language was to be visualised.
However, when I enquired as to how and where the material could be procured, my builder sensibilities soon kicked in. "From South America," came the reply. "On about a 10-week lead in."
I gently pointed out that my total build programme was only 16 weeks and could he therefore specify a material somewhat easier to procure, without stifling his creative flair? (That'll be shuttering ply, then …)
As a "builder" I can empathise with Colin Harding's misgivings regarding aspects of design-led procurement (21 April, page 60).
But I can also empathise with Rab Bennett's view that purely commercial pressures cannot drive the creative design process and development.
I think Rab's closing comments on the fact that the education of builders and designers needs to find some middle ground is a valid point. In the meantime, contractors and designers should continue the healthy Socratic dialogue.
Ed Quinn, Bournemouth