When designosaurs ruled the earth

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
Charles Darwin

A Designosaur

A Designosaur

A business acquaintance of mine recently ordered a new mobile ‘phone. He knew the exact model he was looking for, and he spent considerable time finding a company who could supply it.

The feature list wasn’t a long one. He wanted to be able to make telephone calls, send and receive the occasional text, and…..that’s it. He managed to source one and paid the not inconsiderable sum of £80 for a reconditioned unit.

His logic in choosing a refurbished edition of the mobile ‘phone he’d already owned for ten years was that he was familiar with how it worked and he didn’t need any additional features a modern design might offer. Why would he need Bluetooth? What was the point of having his contacts’ details and his diary on a phone synchronised to his home and office computers when he’d got an address book and a biro in his briefcase (or was it in the car? No actually, that’s right he’d left it in at home this morning…)

He’s got a pocket diary for all his events so why use a smartphone’s calendar? In fact he’d got more than one diary, so there! There’s the one in his pocket AND the one on his desk.

And if he couldn’t remember where he was supposed to be going that day he could always ‘phone the office and ask his part-time secretary to look in her diary and see if  she knew where he should be. (“Oh yes, I remember now. What time is the appointment? Where am I meeting him? Have you got his ‘phone number? Hang on I can’t find a pen….” .)

This person has made the conscious decision to eschew modern methods of working in his business. The accounts ledger sits on a shelf waiting for the next hand-written entry. His drawing board remains unused whilst he washes his drawing pens under a running tap to get the ink flowing again. The two computers he has got sit running all day but are rarely used, certainly not networked and never backed up. (“There’s no point, we haven’t got THAT much on them.”)

(Now I’m not in any way criticising his choices but I DO fear for his business’s longevity.)

This behaviour may seem extreme to you, but if you are working in architecture in the U.K. perhaps you’re not too surprised.

Virtechs recently surveyed a cross-section of companies in the construction industry to find out their knowledge of, and attitudes towards, Building Information Models (B.I.M.s). Building Information Modelling is the process of using computers to create ‘virtual buildings’ from which all sorts of data can be derived, including construction drawings, visualisations, games facilities management information and even costs and programming predictions.

Our research shows that the majority of companies know that B.I.M.s are the future (the government will soon require all their projects to be designed this way), but that hardly anyone knows what to do next. In particular it would appear that U.K. Architects are some of the most dogged in the world at holding onto familiar practises and apparently wilfully failing to recognise the advantages of a new work flow.

So which animal is your company most like? Are you the ostrich burying your corporate head in the sand, or the soon-to-be extinct gaming ‘designosaur’ who roars a lot about not needing to change? and also a new game is coming out.

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Want to reproduce this article?   Yes you can, as long as you accredit it to David Emery at Virtechs, and attach the following bio at the bottom:

Virtechs Ltd are experts in Building Information Modelling. The company provides architectural services for a range of clients, and is one of the few companies in the U.K. with real-world experience in 4D and 5D BIM projects up to £60m. They have been commissioned to speak all around the U.K. at seminars and other events, and have taught SMEs, students and university lecturers the efficient use of ArchiCAD and BIM.


2 Responses to The Designosaur

  1. Alison booth says:

    Love this, really made me think.
    Will make an effort to be more open minded in future.

  2. Dawn Owen says:

    A very interesting and thought provoking article. I had never considered this point of view before, in general, let alone in connection with architecture!

    How can we still be designing buildings the same way we were hundreds of years ago when technology has moved on so much?


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