Designing to add value

Economists tell us that to generate value you usually need a factory, office, laboratory or farm; however we believe designers and inventors can generate value by being creative. Contemporary artists and musicians can generate millions from their work: inventors such as Sir James Dyson can generate billions. 

John Rich shared his thoughts on deriving value from design when he spoke at last month’s South West Construction Summit, he answered the question: how do architects generate value?

At SRA, our clients come to us for much more than just a building. They’re investing in their vision of the future, and the value it will create for them:

  • Retailers want a building to communicate their brand.  For IKEA we will design a store to reinforce their values of being humble, cost-conscious, constantly changing, and sustainable.
  • Motor retailers use architecture to solve a different challenge: The speeds at which people drive past their showrooms reduce visibility of the shiny cars for sale on the forecourt and in the showroom.  For Audi we will design a building to communicate ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, for Jaguar ‘The Art of Performance’ or for Land Rover ‘Above and Beyond’.  The building becomes a piece of highly valuable advertising.
  • Businesses use their premises to communicate company values.  They need spaces to communicate aspects of their mission to customers, investors and staff.  For MEPC at Milton Park, we have designed offices and laboratories for start-up businesses: space for entrepreneurs with a big idea and lots of enthusiasm.  The accommodation needs to communicate this optimism to all who visit or work there.
  • Research laboratories and hospitals, where technology and research changes frequently, place a high value on easy adaptability.  For example, Oxford University have twice appointed us to design research laboratories that are easily adaptable. Often public organisations also have constrained incomes and require low in-use costs.   For the Royal United Hospital in Bath, we designed simple, functional back-of-house office space: low capital cost; low cost in use; and easy to adapt to new uses.
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations have limited funds and must display prudence in their spending. They require suitable spaces that are practical and also communicate their vision, while achieved on a limited budget. For Genesis Trust we are designing their new Centre – this will help their clients develop their life skills:  the design needs to be functional and attractive, inspiring yet economical.  It needs the right balance to satisfy both their clients and their financial supporters – getting the perfect balance will help transform the life of many people.

So, how do SRA add most value?

First we listen to and understand what’s valuable to our client. We then design a building to maximise that value.  Having maximised the value, we work out how to deliver the project for the lowest possible cost.

To us low cost never means cheap and nasty!  The cheapest roofing will leak, the cheapest cladding will rust, the cheapest anything will be false economy. Clever design can generate huge value; cutting cost can only ever save a few percent. We aim for clever design every time.


Watch John's full presentation