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Visualisation & Construction Procurement

Our work during the past two years has been varied and numerous. Although we still love to get involved with the little gems like individual houses and small cultural projects which we can really get our creative teeth into, the reality of working with some of the 'starchitects' with whom we have had the privilege of working has inevitably resulted in larger scale, more commercial projects.

The complexities of working within a team on these larger scale projects can be formidable and some people in the office who, for example don't have an architectural background, regularly query where particular information or feedback is coming from or who is ultimately responsible for decision making in a given situation.  This post is intended as a basic diagrammatic explanation of where the visualisation team fits in with the general procurement of a building project and the various contractual chains and roles and responsibilities which result.

There are of course many other ways that visualisers may be appointed in different situation and  different sectors but this is generally how The Boundary operate in architectural visualisaion 

The diagram above illustrates one way that we have previously been appoted in the US. Branding and creative agencies sometimes act as lead consultants in the production and coordination of the graphic assets including branding identity, CGI's, photography, film etc. They are appointed directly by the developer or client who may be acting in a different capacity such as an overall project manager or client's technical representative and they in turn appoint all the sub-consultants. The branding agency is therefore the client of the CGI company in effect.  This means that all instructions should ultimately come from them directly and everything issued should go to them.  Invoices are addressed to them and damages are recovered from them in the event of something going wrong.

Sub sub consultants/contractors are often appointed by the CGI company directly to contribute to specialist parts of the production process including furniture modellers, vegetation modellers, fluid simulation experts, 3d tracking specialists, photographers etc. 

The second route is to be directly appointed by the developer who is commissioning the building project.  This is probably the most common model and is often preferable to the first example by virtue of it's simplicity. The branding team in this instance may still have some kind of overall creative strategy which can serve as a graphic brief informing the output of the images, film etc. More direct contact with the developer is usually beneficial as it removes one link in the contractual chain and reduces the possibility for poorly interpreted instructions and general misinformation.  

in all these examples it is of course possible and indeed necessary to communicate with the rest of the design team from the architects and interior designers to the branding agencies and film companies to ensure full coordination between all parties.  

The first two examples assumed that the CGI company was appointed to produce marketing material for the purposes of publicity and ultimately sales.  Although this is a large part of our work, it is not the only point at which visualisation is required when considering the overall procurement of a construction project.  

Architectural visualisaiton can also play a key role in architectural competitions, design development, planning and general publicity.  In these cases it is often the architects who appoint the CGI team.  As is illustrated above the architects may also retain the CGI team for the marketing phase if they have already established a working and contractual relationship in which case the developer need not enter into a separate contract with the CGI company which is sometimes preferable for larger organisations who have many appointments to manage.

Another option which is essentially a consolidated variation of the first example is where the creative / branding agency incorporates all of the specialist skills within the single company to provide all of the requisite graphic elements for the marketing process including, branding and identity, web design, printed media, CGI, animation, film etc.  These 'all in one' companies can provide an attractive option for the developer who wants a one stop shop (comparable to turnkey design and build contracting in constriction).  However, with the ever increasing specialisation of computer based graphic industries including the burgeoning VR world it seems increasingly unlikely that this model will be able to compete in the upper echelons of the industry indefinitely where affiliated studios constituting 'best in class' in their respective industries may form relationships or partnering charters to provide a developer with a similarly robust and consolidated package but ensuring greater quality and flexibility.

There are of course many other ways that these structures can work.  This simply representst a few examples of what we have experienced over the years. All a little dry perhaps but I hope this is of some use particularly to those starting out on their own in the industry.