Commissioning and managing the building of a public sector project is a complex task. Drawing on its expertise and experience of working with both government and built environment professionals, CABE has set out 10 clear principles that clients must follow if they are to achieve the best in public building projects.
Understand the role of design - from city centres to individual buildings, there is clear evidence that good design has an impact on improved quality of life and reducing negative environmental impacts. Familiarity with the evidence and good real-life examples will help you understand how design can improve your project - and help you argue the case for it if neccesary.
Recognise the barriers to design - knowing the common pitfalls means you can work to avoid them, and make sure that you put the procedures in place to get an excellent result.
Insist on the importance of design from brief to on-site construction - a commitment to design needs to be there from the start, should be a properly weighted factor in any procurement process, and should never drop out of the equation
Consider whole-life value - good design can improve efficiency and reduce running costs significantly over decades of a building's use. Remember, the National Audit Office and HM Treasury recognise the value that design can have on whole-life operating costs, so you must invest appropriate time and money in design.
Look at the shortlisted entries for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award - ask yourself: is the design you are considering a credible contender? And if not, is it really likely to deliver value for money or be good enough for your end users?
Consult your design champion - if you work in central or local government, a primary care trust, an acute trust, a local education authority or a police authority, the government has said that there should be a designated individual in your organisation charged with promoting good design. Use their knowledge and contacts to help guide your project.
Get design advice - high quality design advice throughout the life of the project is invaluable, and clients should always look to hire relevant expertise. CABE may also be able to provide advice through our enabling or design review programmes. CABE publications offer a range of practical guidance when direct help is not available.
Use the design quality indicator - different versions of DQIs should be used throughout the design process to help you assess what you want out of a design, and whether you are achieving it.
Think about civic value - good design should lift people's spirits. The civic buildings of the Victorians are still a source of pride and identity for many people; there is every reason why this should also be the case for the buildings we create today.
Go and see examples - the case studies in this document are great illustrations of the principles of better public building in action. Visiting them will provide inspiration and could help provide benchmarks to check how well you are doing with your own project.