The top five biggest challenges that architects face

Architects face several challenges in delivering regional projects and, here, GAJ’s Christine Espinosa-Erlanda shares her thoughts on those that are the most common

The role of an architect comes with tremendous responsibility. What we build, where we build, and – more importantly – how we build is reliant on the effective collaboration of teams, a keen sense of the environment and overcoming operational roadblocks. Most of the challenges we face are not unique and are common to all architects regardless of the type of project we are working on. Here are the top five:

Budget restrictions

Probably the most frustrating obstacle is budget. Architects frequently encounter project cost restrictions, especially when working on projects with limited budgets. We have all encountered clients who prefer not to divulge budgets in advance, revealing this information only after they have insisted on the best solutions but given tight margins.

Budget restrictions and cost-related information makes it difficult to achieve their design objectives leading to concessions in materials, construction procedures, and operational aspects of the project. The advantages of sharing the budget early on are that funds can be planned and allocated more effectively.

Keeping projects on track

If there is one thing that is designed to increase stress levels within a team, it is time pressures. Architects must, consistently, meet strict deadlines to keep projects on track with the programme which invariably results in long working hours and increased stress levels.

Managing the different components of a project, such as design, construction, and stakeholder engagement, is a complex and time-consuming process. Added to this are the invariable project delays and setbacks, which are inevitable in the industry and designers must be ready to adapt and develop solutions to stay in control.

Evolve or expire

Architecture is an evolving discipline and architects must keep abreast of new technologies and materials to stay competitive and to give their clients the best solutions. While this might seem straightforward, the challenges this brings include the expense of staying updated; the software and hardware required; the skillset and the expense of upgrading systems. Failing to embrace digital tools will almost certainly hinder firms as they struggle to communicate effectively or forge the collaboration they need to deliver projects.

Staying sustainable

Sustainable building design has never been more important to the future of our environment and we, as designers, are conscious of the impact the buildings we design have on the environment. An environmentally friendly, innovative, and competitive construction industry can play a crucial role in contributing to a long-term climate and energy ambition through a number of different measures whether that is through sourcing new low carbon footprint material or conserving energy by using less fossil fuel produced energy. Constructing environmentally efficient buildings demands a delicate balance of function, aesthetics, economy, and sustainability.

Managing diverse teams

Managing large and diverse teams can be challenging. While large teams may mean extra resources and greater overall productivity, they can also present challenges. Working with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and with varying degrees of technical skills, as well as those working remotely requires superior team leadership to bring the team together on a project. It requires the understanding of the generational divide and what each generation can bring to a collaborative workplace in terms of expertise and working styles.

While managing office-based teams is certainly demanding, remote working brings its own set of challenges, from, often, inadequate communication and a lack of face-to-face interaction to tracking tasks and productivity. And for many of us, the remote working or hybrid working model has been a steep learning curve forcing us to adapt accordingly.

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