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Health by Design - We need consistent and knowledgeable clients

Ideals and practical compromises are consistently traded off in the lifecycle of design. Having a consistent and knowledgeable view as a client means you won’t lose tomorrow’s needs in today’s easy answers.

We often think of ‘the client’ as just one role within an organisation. But that can cloud the actual dynamics of decision making in a project and the power relations that can led to different performance outcomes. The types of client within a company could be:

  • Client – Senior manager sponsoring the project
  • Client – Procurement manager
  • Client – Contract manager
  • Client – Project manager
  • Client – Asset manager

While we might point to one decision maker, who may have the lead role of knowledgeable client, there are many others who, as clients, influence developments while helping to achieve a goal. Everybody in the client company must align their short-term needs with the overall organisational goals. If not the short-term needs of some could override the ultimate goals of the project.

Managing these risks may need extra time at the design stage, to consider health and wellbeing at a deeper level, and to develop possible solutions. Permission to trade off requirements, and options to find optimal products and technical outcomes, for health and wellbeing are also needed.

A client should be knowledgeable about the risks and effectiveness of their design activity. So, we recommend that all of those in client roles should be aware of health risk and be involved in design development. Being aware of and up to date with documents and sites such as the Crossrail Healthy by Design Guidance (linked below) and Universal Design web pages are important for this.

Below, you can also find a short guide for clients developing construction projects in line with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

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