Always agree your brief and design

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This week there was a major architectural headline about a big, wake-up call, court case.
Wealthy clients successfully sued their architect for negligence over his delivery of a floating ‘sleek modern’ cube in the poolhouse at their £7 million home in Totteridge, north London.
Apparently, the clients were shocked when the project was completed, saying the designs did not meet their expectations, had not been agreed and according to Mr Justice Bowdrey, sitting as a deputy Technology and Construction Court judge, had left them with an ‘ugly duckling’ which could not ‘be turned into a swan’.
Architect Daniel Marcal must pay clients £500,000 in damages as well as costs after the judge ruled that he was at fault for a ‘wonky’ home-cinema project that the clients say is so far removed from what they wanted they have no choice but to demolish it and start again.
Asked to provide evidence that the clients had approved the scheme’s unusual evolution, Marcal – where he might have presented written briefs and signed-off alterations – produced a Pinterest board.
We can’t stress the importance of agreeing a written brief with the clients and also agreeing design development visuals / drawings before getting stuff built. Pinterest can be a useful tool as long as it is understood it is only a visualisation tool with limitations.
Defence witness, John Perry said, a design brief is often ‘a journey of exploration with the architect’. But in this instance, the judge concluded that the ‘journey of exploration was … taken by the defendant without inviting the claimants to accompany him’.
Image credits: The Architects Journal

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