New initiative aims to involve project teams beyond the practical completion of buildings

The Soft Landings approach adopted at the Cambridge Centre for Mathematical Sciences to extend the duties of the project team beyond practical completion is being further developed by BSRIA, the Usable Buildings Trust and Darwin Services.
BSRIA, the Usable Buildings Trust and Darwin Services have launched an initiative to extend the duties of project teams beyond practical completion. Called ‘Soft Landings’, it was launched at a luncheon of the All Party Parliamentary Group. The process covers the period for building handover up to the first three years of occupation and is designed to fill a gap in the scope of services traditionally provided by designers and builders by encouraging a more long-term and joined-up approach based on feedback and post-completion evaluation. Mark Way, principal of Darwin Services and the originator of Soft Landings, said, ‘We aim to create a process based on learning and sharing feedback, enabling estate managers to work alongside the design and construction team from briefing to design, construction and right through to occupation. ‘To be successful, the process has to be embedded in procurement and contractual obligations at the outset, bringing more clarity to roles and augmenting the scope of services to be carried out by builders, designers, facilities and estates managers and, where appropriate, the end user.’ The concept increases the involvement of designer and constructor after building handover to help users get the best out of their buildings and reduce the tensions and frustrations associated with moving in. The initiative includes the need for greater involvement of the designers after practical completion, when contractual obligations are often minimal Soft Landings project manager Roderic Bunn explains, ‘Essentially, it’s a graduated handover, where project teams stay engaged after practical completion to hand-hold clients during the initial period of occupation and to stay involved for up to three years to provide professional aftercare. ‘Soft Landings also provides a natural home for feedback and post-occupancy evaluation — hot topics for Government and their procurement arms. It could easily be adopted by Partnerships for Schools, which is grappling with the enormity of delivering zero-carbon new schools by 2016.’ A Soft Landings toolkit, comprising a scope-of-service document set, will be produced in early 2009 for use by clients and construction teams. Training and certification schemes will follow.
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