In particular since the 1973 energy crisis, the requirements applied to buildings have become continuously more stringent while the buildings themselves have become increasingly complex. This increase in complexity can no longer be effectively managed by the conventional sequential method of design, in which the design team divides up the work and only becomes fully formed at the end of the design process after the responsibility has been continuously shunted from one project stakeholder to another. The concept of integrated design was developed to overcome this problem and is finding increasing acceptance.

Integrated design has come to mean a procedure in which the design team is assembled at the beginning of the design, the client’s representatives are involved and in certain circumstances even the main contractor can be brought in at an early stage in the design. This provides the foundations for integration along interdisciplinary lines (horizontally) and throughout all life cycle phases (vertically). The responsibility for the design learns, which generally requires specific forms of contract (example project consultant). The cooperative working of the team is based firstly on an extensive, explicit alignment of their aims with the requirements of the project and secondly on a common image of the planned building.

Integrated design is a process in which the acquisition of knowledge and its optimisation take place in alternate steps. This requires that all the participants in the design exchange information honestly and impartially. The solution process demands coordination without prejudice or favour towards one discipline or another, so that quality, continually and a design complying with the objectives are guaranteed.

 The design process inevitably raises conflicts of objectives. “They arise from the divergent perspectives and areas of competence of the participating parties –but also through their different objectives. Quantitative objectives – for example remaining within budget- can be defined in unambiguous terms and incorporated relatively easily into the design process.

Additional difficulties find their grounds in the inherent conflicts of objectives in the tension between ecology and economy that accompany and combine with the conflicts of interests of the participants in the design and construction.

Completely new methods and tools are necessary to overcome these difficulties. This need sterns from the following requirements and aspects:

–       The requirement oriented approach is based on the formulation, auditing and agreement of systems of objectives.

–       The horizontal (disciplinary) integration needs special tools that link several specialist areas (example energy requirement and costs).

–       The planned building must be described in scalable form capable of being used by all the design participants (example element cost classification).

–       The exchange and synchronisation of the data must be carried out as a continuous process. This can only be fully achieved by adopting a common building information model (BIM). The use a central project severs and web-based project rooms allows a high standard of design consistency to be maintained.

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