Vision on the role of Structural Engineer

In addition to advising on structural and civil technical engineering, we see ourselves as a catalyst in projects. We find it important to propose creative solutions within our field and those of other advisers.

That is why we act as an adviser to the client and fulfil that role in the design team.

In our opinion, realising the set ambitions within the available project budget is only possible through a dynamic interplay between the client, users, architect, project management and other advisers. It is common knowledge that choices made at the start of the design process have a major influence on construction costs and quality. In the first stage of a project in particular, we can exert defining influence on efficiency within the process.

It is therefore important to start the process with a top design team that maintains 100% communication.

The same can be said about the level of sustainability in a building; this is an issue that arises early on in the process.

One of our most important tasks is translating the ideas of the architect economically. As stated above, we recommend setting out the main lines of the total project in a number of design sessions in the initial stages. In these sessions, we immediately indicate our ideas in terms of the main goals and structure of the buildings through sketches (flexibility, openness, structural measurements etc). The parties involved can then evaluate the submitted proposals.

These design sessions will also involve a discussion of the links between structure and installations. In this stage, it remains essential to coordinate the basic principles in both fields. This mainly involves pipe integration, dangers of collapse, shafts etc. Designing a decent structure /installation is impossible without input from the other advisers.

We often use a so-called ‘valuation matrix’. The various concepts for a structural design are translated to costs and receive a valuation in terms of the other ambitions such as flexibility, sustainability and air quality.

Many integral solutions are only possible with knowledge from the other construction fields. Even after these decisions have been made, we continue to assess them. New developments in the design can result in older choices having a counterproductive effect. In the event that this does occur, we will not hesitate to question earlier decisions. The end result is the only thing that matters.

The basic principles of the installation and the structure are coordinated in design sessions.

The design stage is finalised with a stage document, in which drafts and text clarify which criteria are behind which decisions. This document is the start document for the following stages and supports communication with the other fields in the following stages of the process. We recommend drawing up one collective stage document with the entire design team. This stage document contains all the produced documents (drafts, quality plan etc.) with textual explanations per field. The advantage to this form of communication is that those parties that were not present at all design sessions have the opportunity to reread all the considerations and conclusions. Our experience shows that even in the specifications stage, the first stage documents are regularly consulted.