Although the structural failure at an Edinburgh primary school last year has been blamed on poor bricklaying and PFI (the private finance initiative method of funding public buildings), Scottish architects are pointing the finger at the design & build and the fading away of the independent architect / engineer.
According to some reports, Scottish architects are calling for all PFI buildings in the country to undergo independent structural examinations. They are even going so far as to declare that all buildings resulting from design & build contracts should now be considered a risk, no matter how they are financed.
In the evidence it presented to the Cole Report, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) blamed the January 2016 wall collapse at Oxgangs Primary School on lack of independent supervision.
The organisation told the inquiry headed by Professor John Cole that for over 30 years, responsibility for procurement process leadership had been transferred from architects and other construction professionals to parties who are not as involved with the design process.
These include contractors, project managers, and others compiled as entities for both legal and administrative convenience.
The reasons for the changes vary, RIAS claimed. While 1994’s Latham Report and the Egan Report four years later were well-intentioned, there were unexpected consequences.
It added that where the project leader and / or funder is the organisation doing the contracting, it should be acknowledged that the party overseeing the process will have different operating perspectives than architects. On occasion, management within some bigger contracting organisations need individuals without suitable construction expertise or skills to oversee large and complicated projects, requiring considerable contractual and technical knowledge.