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Column Adriaan Mout | Architecture through the funnel or the sieve?

21 February 2019

Cobouw adriaan mout 190510 architectuur door de trechter of de zeef

A funnel is used to guide large flows and quantities in the right direction and reduce them to manageable proportions. I couldn't help thinking of that picture when I looked at the long list of projects that our office is currently working on. And in general, what the whole professional group of architects is working on. Many plans, far too many in relation to the current building capacity. We all know and experience the consequences. Constantly rising construction costs resulting in delays and stagnation. The production of buildings is bursting at the seams, but anyhow, we take up new challenges and plans every week. And at the same time we receive new, far too high budgets, resulting again in delays and stagnation. A funnel is not the solution here, because it is flooding at the top. It’s a fact that simply too few designs fit through the spout.

Should we then use a sieve? Recently, we have been invited again for a large tender. Just with the tender documents alone you can easily fill a few binders, but apart from that a complete and very comprehensive plan is required. Then again, five consortia will start work on five plans. Undoubtedly mostly decent plans, but only one will go through the sieve. Four others disappear into the trash, as if we don't have enough plans yet. And as if there are no other ways to select the right party for an assignment. And do you actually need to share so much information at all?

A funnel or sieve is no longer sufficient to ensure that this process runs smoothly. We all make far too many plans for the shrinking construction capacity. A reconsideration would be appropriate. Or maybe a crisis. Because if we cannot realize many of all those beautiful and intelligent plans, I would rather spend the time on my bike to cycle . Blowing off some steam instead of doing ritual dances around some plans to slow them down or even throw them away. Good things take time.

May 2019,