Achieving Quality Standards in Architecture

Quality is what defines a product that is free of deficiencies and errors which, thereby, provides satisfaction to those who acquire it. Quality standards are important guidelines. As one of many architect firms in Cape Town, we understand this and work to improve, always.

The best way to ensure quality standards are met, is to implement quality control and management systems. The local architectural landscape faces a particular issue in architects not always having a good grasp on quality management theories. On a global scale, architecture seems to be modernising slower than most other industries. And construction processes are still highly wasteful due to production being prioritised over management and planning.

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Why Architect Firms Should Care About Quality

When quality becomes the topic of conversation, you are likely to hear something along the lines of ‘they just don’t make things like they used to’. Since this is the collective agreement across societies, it’s safe to assume that there’s an issue with quality management processes on a broad scale.

A sense of quality has become the central buying argument for consumers. So much so that people tend to spend more for the sake of obtaining it. We can understand quality as a term defined differently by different people. Be that as it may, a built environment has essential features that when brought together, can be considered as ‘high quality’.

Habitability, accessibility and affordability are what contribute to this. Architects have to realise that there are benefits to creating high-quality architecture. The outcome of your built environment will have a direct influence on how its inhabitants perceive, function and behave.

The Quality of South African Architectural Practices

Architecture is predominantly known as an artistic process. However, implementing quality control within this process is crucial. Creativity, as well as precision, should serve as the foundation for architectural standards. The pressure of completing projects on time is still the driving force behind actions within South Africa’s architectural landscape.

Administering sound quality management is often under threat due to increasing pressures of meeting infrastructure deadlines. It leads to constructing work using incomplete designs and the adoption of short-cut procedures. Although South Africa often shows commitment to being part of the global architectural world, there are inconsistencies.

South African architectural standards continuously go back and forth due to pressures of keeping up with the modern world. In 2010, South Africa witnessed the creation of Soccer City, described by many critics as an architectural dream. The stadium has global recognition as an infrastructure that blends the art of architectural practice and African culture.

There is a common theme of ‘incompleteness’ throughout South African architecture which, as previously mentioned, refers to the inconsistencies of the practice. The organised chaos of townships and urban apartment buildings to the sparkling streets of upper-class areas and office parks is what South African architecture can be defined by — especially when you consider the work done by architect firms in Cape Town.

The use of Incomplete Designs for Architectural Projects

Using incomplete designs to complete infrastructure projects is the core issue in diminished quality standards. An incomplete design means there is a gap within the conceptualisation phase and the use of such material means concluding architectural projects on incomplete information. It can often result in rework which can be costly, time-consuming and negatively affect the life-span of a built environment.

Rework is a form of waste, so instead of finding ways to deal with its effects architects must prioritise eliminating its causes. During the design process, architects must consult chosen contractors to determine the level of difficulty of construction. Digital design methods often tend to ignore a site’s practical realities and must, therefore, undergo a constructibility review.

An architect must make the contractor aware of their expectations before the contractor can develop a ‘we can do this’ mindset. Involving the contractor in the early stages of the design process allows for a higher level of understanding of the project.

Implementing Quality Management Systems

Quality is a term that retains multiple meanings. All spheres in society contribute to what defines standards of quality in architecture. The consideration of social, economic, political and cultural aspects will determine what a built environment will mean to people. Making use of quality control management in the design process does not have to limit the creative side of architecture. Quality control clearly defines the roles of each person throughout the design process and creates a sense of organisation. Planning and regulating the design process allows for the creation of a technical foundation that guarantees quality. Creating a means for experimentation within this foundation will also encourage architectural creativity.

It is essential to consider the overall effects of a building project on society throughout the quality management process. What impact will this infrastructure have on the community? Does it have political or economic value? We can see quality as an agent of change because it contributes to everyday life. The quality of a built environment will determine how its inhabitants perceive it and therefore, what it will become.

Achieving quality in architecture becomes more complex the broader its definition becomes. However, there should be a foundation on which design principles are based to ensure a basic level of quality. For architects to create infrastructures that are sustainable and satisfactory, they must consult contractors in the early stages of the design process.

Architects must consider the cultural influence that their built environments will have over society. With the implementation of quality control within architectural processes, practitioners will be able to achieve quality standards. In any crowded market, it is important to deliver outstanding service even when it’s challenging. The same goes for architect firms in Cape Town.


For more information about Architect Services and on how we can assist you, get in touch with us on 021 422 5041 or via email to

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