There are a number of questions that come up regularly in conversations with prospective clients (both businesses and private citizens). We’ve provided answers to these frequently asked questions below.
Don’t see your question in this list? Want to know more? Interested to know what P·A can do for you? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
What is the real added value of an architect?
When it comes to remodels, new construction or redevelopment, working with an architect has two key benefits: a well-orchestrated process and a high-quality result. As your architect, we are an experienced, independent advisor that supports you throughout the entire process: from initial sketch to building commissioning.
We ensure an efficient and well-orchestrated process. For example, by involving the right advisors and contractors and ensuring that these parties are properly managed. We know when and how to involve you, the client and end-user, in decisions without burying you in heaps technical information or asking you to make uniformed decisions.
We strive to involve you to the fullest extent throughout the design process. Early on you’ll get a good idea of what the process will look like and what you can expect. We’ll articulate the opportunities and challenges and listen to your ideas and concerns. You’ll know exactly what the final result will look like before the shovel goes into the ground.
We stand for high-quality architecture that meets both your needs and constraints. Our ultimate goal is to create architectural spaces that not only meet your current needs but will have a large and lasting impact on the way you live, work and recreate.
Feel free to peruse our testimonials page, where a handful of former clients and partners reflect on their experiences with PA and the added value we contribute.
I want something complex, but I’m not exactly sure what it is just yet…?
As far as we’re concerned this is the perfect place to start! We’re here to help you in formulating your spatial requirements. Together, we can assess whether a new building or the redevelopment of an existing building is the best way to meet your needs. It’s possible that a minor adjustment to an existing building can provide the functionality that you’re seeking. Contrariwise, it’s also possible that an investment in an existing building will not tackle the specific issue that you’re struggling with.
Our recurring clients will tell you that it’s never too early to involve P·A. We often support clients in determining whether a real estate investment or procurement of a plot will better serve them on the short and long term. We are accustomed to thinking strategically about how buildings can be used, reused, shared and maintained. We ask the right questions to bring key issues to light and rather than getting distracted by limitations, we see opportunities!
Do you have time for my project?
There’s only one right answer to this question: we’re always busy but we always have time for you!
How are your designs conceived?
Pfff, that is a long story… We rarely start with a blank slate: physical context, specific end-user requirements and relevant rules and regulation provide a framework for the design. We start with your needs and ambitions and then add our vision on attractive, robust and futureproof spaces. What’s more, we think beyond the current assignment and imagine how your needs will evolve over time. Project-specific factors determine the final result, which is why each project has a unique look and feel.
Curious to find out more? Read about our design process, below, or come by to discuss things face-to-face.
Just how is the design process structured?
Every design process (and every construction process) is, to some extent, made to order. When planning a project, we consider i.a. the scope and complexity of the project, the advisors that will need to be consulted and client preferences such as when and how the client would like to be involved.
Of course, there’s a typical design process that we follow. This is a 10-phase process that starts with an inventory of ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to haves’ and ends with the maintenance and use of the realized space. We don’t go through all 10 phases with every client but we often do most and have experience with all. We’ve outlined the most important steps below:
We nearly always begin by creating a program of requirements (‘programma van eisen’ or PvE). This is a document that outlines the client’s needs and wishes, for example with respect to the type of spaces that will be created and the functions that these spaces must serve. The PvE also addresses other important requirements such as local zoning rules (‘bestemmingsplan’), guidelines regarding the aesthetics of the built environment (‘welstandsnota’), current/historic context and any constraints associated with the location or existing structures.
The next phase is typically referred to as the initial design (‘voorontwerp’ or VO) In this phase the PvE is translated into a preliminary conceptual design. The aim is to develop a shared understanding of the spaces that will be created. To ensure this shared understanding, we often present the VO using traditional tools such as floorplans and elevations as well as 3D impressions and custom virtual reality experiences.
Once the VO has been approved, the concept is further developed to arrive at the definitive design (‘definitief ontwerp’ or DO). At the DO presentation you can expect to see detailed impressions of your project that show the forms, structures, materials and detailing. Required installations are typically specified at this stage in the game.
During the subsequent technical design (‘technisch ontwerp’ or TO) phase the many technical details are fleshed out. Technical detailing is a necessary prerequisite for a definitive construction budget. Hence the TO phase is followed by the pricing and contracting phase (‘prijs- en contractvorming’), in which contractors bid for the assignment and preferred parties are selected. Once contractors have been found, the design is translated into blueprints (‘werktekeningen’); this phase is commonly referred to as the construction-ready design (‘uitvoeringsgereed ontwerp’ or UO).
In the construction management (‘directievoering’) phase, the design becomes reality. Often, we continue our involvement throughout this phase, working on behalf of the client to oversee construction. Sometimes our work continues long after the building has been commissioned: in the use/operation (‘gebruik’/’exploitatie’) phase we support some clients to facilitate proper usage and maintenance.
Would you like a full overview of the 10 phases of the design and construction process?
Click here to view the standard task descriptions (only available in Dutch).
I don’t read anywhere that your buildings are sustainable?
As far as we’re concerned, sustainable building practices are more of a requirement than an option. There are many definitions for the word ‘sustainable’. We believe that sustainability is about a robust, smart design and not about high-tech installations or experimental materials. Sustainability manifests itself in compact, flexible spaces that make efficient use of natural elements including daylight and fresh air. Buildings must have intrinsic quality and meet the changing needs of current and future users.
It is a misconception that sustainable buildings are by definition expensive buildings. Have a look at our project for the Stayokay and Natuurpodium where we created a green icon for the city of Bergen op Zoom on a budget that even a low-budget hostel was able to accommodate.
What is your focus? You can’t be good at everything, can you?
Strategic thinking and bold gestures are at the heart of nearly every P·A project. As an architecture firm we are used to quickly developing a comprehensive understanding of the client, end-user and functional requirements. An integral approach to complex problems is second nature to us. In our opinion, it’s less about the function a building is used for and more about how the desired program is translated into an efficient and functional space. In that respect, there are few design challenges and building typologies that we won’t take on.
Can we chat?
Yes, it would be a pleasure!
How can you realize such large projects with such a compact team?
P·A invests a lot in streamlining our internal organization. We work with advanced software that allows us to model buildings in 3D rather than draw the buildings in 2D. This approach let us quickly and efficiently design, visualize and modify spaces.
Together with partners such as structural engineers and installation advisors we work in a ‘BIM (Building Information Modelling) environment’ in which various parties can simultaneously work on the same computer model. This enables activities to take place in parallel rather than one after another. Moreover, the BIM environment dramatically minimizes design error (and thus construction error) when compared to a traditional processes.
We also use new technologies such as virtual reality (VR) to engage clients, users and other stakeholders at a very early stage in the design process. This contributes to better idea sharing and a faster design process. These tools also prevent delays caused by unnecessary adjustments to the design later in the process.
For multidisciplinary assignments we collaborate with a set of longstanding partners, including lighting advisors, landscape architects, graphic designers and cultural historians. These partnerships augment our capabilities and make us a ‘one stop shop’ for many clients.
What is your ideal client?
(to be honest, we came up with this question ourselves)
Our ideal client is good-natured, committed, ambitious, and entrepreneurial with a healthy dose of humor. Of course, he or she has an affinity for quality and good design. Our ideal client is eager to be a part of a project in which diverse disciplines come together in an open design process.
Note: if you have one or more of these qualities then you’re wholeheartedly welcome!
I often hear that an architect just makes things more expensive?
Of course our services don’t come free of charge, but hiring a good architect tends to pay for itself. If we were managers rather than architects then we would probably refer to ourselves as an ‘investment’.
How do we pay for ourselves? First and foremost we ensure that your needs and wishes are translated into a building that provides optimal value for money. Working with an experienced party like P·A will ensure that your building exceeds your expectations and will enable you to live, work or recreate optimally. We don’t strive to offer the lowest prices; rather, we strive to offer the best value. Past clients typically cite this as a key reason why they would like working with P·A again in the future.
Do you only make buildings? your website indicates that you do more than just designing buildings. What all can you do for me?
Above all, we are an architecture firm that designs buildings or spaces within buildings. In many cases, we don’t just make the design, but we also assume responsibility for project management and construction management. We ensure that our designs are realized in accordance with the quality, schedule and budget requirements specified by our customers.
In addition to architectural design, we are often asked to do interior design. We are happy to work with you and your team to create a style guide, identify colors and materials, or completely furnish your space. And we are fully in our element when we can provide the building with context by designing the landscape around it. We do landscape design in cooperation with our landscape architect, Joost Emmerik.
I see that you also do real estate development?
In addition to our role as architect, we often wear the hat of real estate developer and develop a building for a client. This may be a new building or the redevelopment of an existing building. Sometimes we execute development projects on behalf of a client (have a look at the projects we developed for Hanna and Erwin), and sometimes we take on the development risk ourselves and hand the final product over to the client once complete. We also develop buildings that we manage and maintain ourselves. These are typically small-scale, high-quality projects that fulfill our vision of the ‘vital building’.
Are you in search of support for a (re)development project or are you interested in investing in one of our projects? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Your website is in English… zou je mij ook in het Nederlands te woord kunnen staan?