PROJECTS -of design 04

Post 11 -by Gautam Shah


Emergence of Projects : Projects emerge out of circumstances, aided by all kinds of debate and analysis, policy decisions, as unique ways of addressing social, political, business and organizational issues, within increasingly complex environments. ‘A project is a goal-oriented, an organizational tool for getting from A to B, -a, distinct one from other more traditional, routine and bureaucratic means.’ Projects need to be managed well, to achieve the set goals, in a specific time frame and within the limited geo-spatial spread. In project management what is unfamiliar and non routine, invariably requires all kinds of learning, adaptation and problem solving.

Street in Pompeii > Wikipedia image by Paul Vlaar

Nature of Projects : A project could be an idea or concept taking shape in mind or being readied for an outward expression’, a strategy to actualize an idea, to recollect a happening, estimates the scale of an event, reproduce an experience or a search for a match or fit. Projects usually have a dual personality, technical, and procedural. Some projects are predominantly technical or procedural, but not exclusively one or the other. Architecture is an example of the former, marketing or the training would be an example of the later. Designers deal with many different types of Projects. Projects are conditioned by the available technology, and by legal, social and such obligations.

Single soap bubble with micro photography > Size of a project is determined by the scale of its detail > Wikipedia image by Pashminu

Critical Projects : A project is accomplished as an output of: a physical object, representation of thoughts and concepts, or non physical matter like problem solving, satisfaction, enjoyment, etc. A project is considered as weak as its most inferior section. A project, however, achieves a strength equivalent to the average strengths of all its sections. Project management systems entail recognition of time and extent dependent features, and strategies for handling them. As a planning and forecasting tool, projects are hypothetically intensified to discover their weak sections.

Roman soldiers building a fortress > Wikipedia image by Fikret Yegul

Dependencies of Projects : Projects are so scope and time dependent. Any increase or decrease in size affects the functionality of it. A time dependent project when delayed impacts the benefits or losses out of it. With early or accelerated execution, extensive benefits could be derived, or with slower implementation hazards and risks can be controlled. Projects with acute time and size dependency occur when conditions are abnormal and survival of an individual or the entire race is threatened, such as during war, a natural calamity, a catastrophe, etc. Best or most successful projects emerge in crisis like acute conditions.

ATLAS one of the seven particle detector project at Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN Switzerland > Wikipedia image by Fanny Schertzer

Project management : Project management is unique in character and distinct from other more traditional, routine and bureaucratic means. Project management achieves the objectives within the Defined scope, Time, and Costs. The fourth parameter of project management is the Quality of the delivery. The advance planning of the effort and required resources assures the nature of the outcome. Projects involve men, money, materials, machines. Projects generate gains, return, advantage, learning, fees, commissions, charges, or compensation.

Project documents > Pexels free images by Source:

Project Documentation : Projects need definitions like objectives and deliverables, which are essential mechanisms to reinforce teams’ expectations, align sponsors, clients and other stakeholders. Documentation process may get obliterated, where owners, conveners, planners, designers, vendors, executioners, supervisors and operators converge due to in-distinctive roles.

Types of Project Documents : Some of the documents created by parties involved with a project are:

  1. Project Charter, Project Profile Report, Business case, Feasibility Study, Scope Statement, Terms of reference, Project Management Plan, Project Initiation Document
  2. Work Breakdown Structure, Assignments, Task lists, Schedules,
  3. Accommodation of Alterations, Change Control Plan,
  4. Communications Plan, Reportage system, notifications,
  5. Risk Register, Risk probabilities, Risk extent, Risk Management Plan (avoidance, mitigation, factors of safety, margins), Risk compensations
  6. Governance Model, Administrative strategies
  7. Resource Management Plan
  8. Project Schedules, Targets
  9. Responsibility and Authority structure


Project Planning : Projects have FOUR distinct phases. These phases are handled by different agencies, and yet rarely distinctly delineated in extent, or defined on time scale.

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Construction /Execution
  • Operations

UPLOAD Flickr image > by VFS Digital Design

Planning Phase : Project conception and definitions for necessity and feasibility occur here. To contemplate designs or other details are not required. Routine projects naturally have very concise planning phase, whereas unconventional projects have intensive planning and often concurrent with the design phase. Project and its operant organization are often intimately linked, and both are set forth simultaneously by the same agency. In other circumstances a project is perhaps required to rejuvenate an existing organization, or conversely association of new organization reestablishes the project.

Planning > Pexels free images source:

Planning Phase Modalities : One of the most crucial decisions taken at this stage is whether or not, to pursue the project. To make such a decision, many questions must be answered by the administrators, politicians, and professionals of other fields. Design professionals unless proficient in branches like finance and management are not involved.

  • Is the project needed?
  • What will the project cost?
  • What will the benefit of the project be?
  • How big (comparative scale) will it be?
  • What impact will it have on the environment?
  • Who will pay for the project?
  • What alternatives are available?
  • What are the quantitative and qualitative advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives?


Design Phase : The design phase follows the planning phase. Sometimes, the design phase has already been initiated with the planning phase, as for case studies. Planning stage is hardly visible wherever designers are the conceivers or visualizers of the project. The complex design work has two stages, the macro and micro design. The decisions at the macro stage relate to holistic concept, theme, form, etc. At the micro stage sections are detailed, specified and assigned to relevant teams or external consultants.

Planning > Flickr image by Steve Jurvetson

Construction or Execution Phase : This follows the design process, and some preliminary work like preparation of prototypes, master batching, mock-ups, pilot project, sample production, etc. may have already started with the design work. The circumstances change during the time gap between the Planning and Execution phase, and all projects see are modified in varying proportions. Other external factors like, climate, political and economics become affective when actual work is being executed.

Construction of Opera House Frankfurt Germany 1873 > Image by Philipp Holzmann AG Archive

 Operations Phase : Projects have operations phase either as an obvious supplement, or as a very indistinct activity. Operations phase starts during the project execution phase itself, as and when large components and system become ready. In case of turn key projects, the builder may operate some of these systems for trials and use.

Space shuttle Operations checks by NASA

Operations Phase for Projects of various types : At simplest level a project is delivered to a client (assigning, real-user, or the agent), who than may operate it or hire required help. In cases, where the client is also the project convener and builder the operations phase may form an integral part of the Planning, Design, or Execution phases. Such projects have an indistinct operations phase. Large and complex projects, however, are completed, tested for trial run and formally submitted or handed over to assigned operators. These types of projects have a very obvious operations phase, because planners, designers and executioners are able to transfer a part of their responsibilities (and so liabilities) to professional operators.

Operations manual for Telephone 1967 > Wikipedia image by Jdogmad

Operations and Feedback systems : A feed back or reportage system is required as part of the operations phase. It helps in optimization new projects. Feed back system is difficult to organize for projects that are rare, unique, or holistic, but easier for routine projects. Where clients or conveners, are also the project operators, they are able to utilize the feedback very efficiently. However in projects that pass through designers, to contractors to operators, the feedback is very difficult to monitor or reliable.


04 PROJECTS of design –part of the lecture series DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES


Published by

Gautam Shah

Former adjunct faculty, Faculty of Design CEPT University, Ahmedabad and Consultant Designer

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