Unseen expertise underpins building design integrity

Thursday Island Site Inspection Design


As award-winning architects, we’re known for our creative and practical use of space. However, it’s usually our unseen expertise that underpins the design integrity for sustainable built forms of beauty and purpose.

This article is dedicated to the humble but oh-so important, site investigation and our collaborative approach to working with aligned consultants and contractors.

There is a lot more involved in delivering a quality building design than what you see at face value.

Before all the concept drawings and beautifully prepared renders, there are site investigations that will in some way dictate the building’s design and construction requirements.

As you’d expect, site investigations are a multi-disciplined affair as the findings will affect just about every aspect of the design and build.

Needless to say investigations need to be thorough, and in locations like ours in FNQ where sites can be remote or difficult to access, it can be expensive and unrealistic to expect all contractors and consultants to attend the site in the early stages of the project.

As architects, we have our own agenda when attending site investigations, but we also collaborate with other professionals and act as representatives for engineers, builders, landscapers and various other specialist consultants and contractors.

Frequently on the other end of the phone they are assessing the site via Facetime, asking us questions and examining the photos we’re sending in real time. Our role is to help them to capture all the information they need for preliminary planning.

Our role doesn’t replace the need for consultants and contractors to walk the site themselves.

However, our understanding of design, construction AND client requirements enables us to effectively liaise and relay pertinent information, provide important observations and explanations to aligned consultants and contractors who may not be able to visit a site themselves.

Site investigations are essential, and taking this collaborative approach is quite simply sensible, especially in terms of cost savings and avoiding delays.

A recent case in point was the site investigation for the Government Housing Project in TI site (pictured above).

We are very familiar with Government projects, having previously designed and documented several such as the Gordonvale Fire and Rescue Station and investigated sites for similar projects in Airlie Beach, Mackay and Proserpine.

Emergency Services projects have specific site requirements. Among the more obvious is the need for accommodating large vehicles and providing easy access both to the building and carriage ways when deployed. They are also noisy, and matters of acoustics and proximity to neighbouring properties must be considered.

Every site has its challenges and site investigation findings will influence the design of the building, engineering, construction, landscaping as well as environmental matters.

The latter can include environmental protection relating to flora or fauna and weather events such as cyclones and flooding which are common in FNQ and must also be factored in to determine the site’s suitability or options for making it suitable.

As hands-on architects working in collaboration with other consultants and contractors, the benefits are many.  Among them minimising the number of people on site, creating time and cost savings for clients and as trusted and informed liaison for absent aligned consultants, the project can continue to progress which shouldn’t be understated in a tight development schedule.

As architects, we also benefit from our close exposure to other professional disciplines.  On-site learning allows us to continually build our already considerable knowledge so we may anticipate issues and proactively design-in solutions that can create more and better design opportunities which adds additional value to design and construction process and successful outcomes for clients.

For more information about JMc Architects and our collaborative consultation approach, please contact me on 0412 078 143 or email [email protected]

P.S:  I recently attended a site investigation in Mourilyan Harbour and Etty Bay where JMc Architects is preparing a house extension and refurbishment. The views were stunning, click here to see the images.

By Julianne Field, Director, FRAIA, BOAQ No. 2965

JMc Architects is an award-winning architectural firm known for collaborating with luxury high-end residential private clients, government departments, large institutions and construction companies to create innovative and sustainable building designs that enhance quality of life and contribute positively to communities.