Why Architects need to do more feasibility studies

Clients sometimes pressurise Architects to develop projects rapidly. This can lead to mistakes, poorly developed designs, construction delays, unnecessary waste and buildings that do not work as well as they should.

A good way of avoiding this and ensuring that projects are well thought through and resolved is by undertaking feasibility studies that develop and test approaches early. This helps ensure that everyone understands the project better and that sufficient brainpower has been applied to developing a strong brief and architectural response.

My lecture for the South African Insitute of Architects (SAIA) covered this topic and drew on experiences to show why feasibility studies can be a valuable ‘pause’ which allows fundamental issues to be questioned and resolved before proceeding to detailed design and construction.

Some of the reasons why feasibility studies are worth pursuing that were covered in the talk are listed below:

  • To understand the client and develop the brief
  • To understand the site and building type
  • To identify and develop options and alternatives
  • To test and evaluate options to identify optimum solutions
  • To develop outline designs and establish costs
  • To carry out specialist studies ie geology
  • To ensure the project is technically, legally and financially feasible
  • To have time to assemble the right design team and any specialists
  • To fully understand any innovative approaches and technologies fully and to be able to develop suitable plans and project process documentation
  • To undertake a ‘trial run’ of the project which identifies and addresses potential problems

Some references for the talk are:

Eliud Kipchoge becomes the first human to break the two-hour marathon barrier
 Mill Lane Gardening Centre
Globe Theatre
Thuba Makote
Gibberd, 2004. Thuba Makote: Schools as Centres for Community Development
Department of the Environment
A Performance-Based Design and Delivery Process
National Treasury Infrastructure Guidelines
Guidelines to Professional fees
Bartlett Summer Show 2022