phot0 by Alex Holyoake

Stop re-work. Open source your designs

In a nutshell, my work as a Civil designer relies on having access to a toolbox of standard components. These components form the common language between designers and construction teams. Our society in turn, relies on improved productivity which usually comes from removing risk and uncertainty of tasks.

“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel… just steal the hubcaps.”

Michael P. Naughton

It is well documented that standardising tasks reduces project risk by eliminating unknowns and the inherent build up of knowledge through repetition improves the speed at which things can be constructed.

Dieter Rams, the renowned consumer designer for Braun, constructed a 10 commandments for good design. Of this list, the last commandment, “Involves as little design as possible” is a standout. I agree, as designers we should be applying the lessons learnt from the past to create a long lasting product. Therefore, it is imperative that for good design principles to be implemented across multiple projects and different service providers that most of our design elements be unified. Government Authorities do well at documenting standard specifications and drawings, however there is a good deal of elements that are bespoke in each project and these need to be documented. Perhaps not as ‘standard’ details, but certainly accessible in a reference library.

Unfortunately designers spend a fair bit of time reinventing the wheel on design elements that have probably been developed before. There would be a great benefit to all stakeholders in a project if civil engineers took the ‘open source’ approach of many of the software developers to make seemingly bespoke elements accessible to all designers to use for reference should the occasion arise. Our utility service providers could assist in this matter by providing a resource library of details used on past projects that are accessible for viewing by all designers.

If, like me, you are forced to reinvent the wheel because the details are secreted away then lets join together and start a revolution? Let’s ask our government agencies to open the Plan library to designers?

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