Architectural Failures, Safety Measures and Risks in Construction

Topics: Construction, Fire protection, Building Pages: 12 (4328 words) Published: June 23, 2012
ARCHITECTURAL FAILURES, SAFETY MEASURES AND RISKS IN CONSTRUCTION - NIA 303 (2) Text of Paper presented to the NIAPPE preparatory seminar at Digital Bridge Institute on 6 March 2012 by Arc. J. O. Toluhi PART I – ARCHITECTURAL FAILURES The concept of architectural failures is better understood from the perspective of what architecture really is, criteria for architectural project success and what failure connotes. What architecture means Architecture is defined in various ways by architects and non-architects alike depending on their focus or area of emphasis. You must be familiar with the definition offered in the ARCON law which attempts to capture different ramifications of the profession. By Le Corbusier’s definition, "Architecture is the masterly, correct, and magnificent play of masses brought together in light."1 However, the Penguin dictionary of architecture defines it as “the art and science of designing buildings and structures and their surroundings in keeping with aesthetic, functional and other criteria”. Architecture is now understood as encompassing the totality of the designed environment, including buildings, urban spaces and landscape 2. Successful architecture must therefore maintain the purity enshrined in its meaning and essence. Architectural Project Success Criteria3 The criteria for success in an architectural project include:  Budget – project completed at or under cost  Schedule – completed within the contracted period  Meets specification – conforms with or exceeds the technical specifications  Function - Conforms to user’s expectations  Quality – meets or exceeds accepted standards of materials and workmanship Concept of failure The term “Failure” connotes an aberration, something happening short of expectation and its purpose or intent; it brings about disappointment and will therefore lose its reward. It could be used to describe negative consequences due to a non realisation of desired goals/objectives and loss of benefits derivable from the (architectural) project. The English dictionary defines it as a lack of success at doing or achieving something, while the Penguin dictionary of Building describes failure as “defect or breakdown of a product in service” (emphasis mine). In a nutshell anything falling short of the mark or expectation is a failure. Common examples and usage of the word throw more light on the meaning and implication of architectural failures. These include phrases like power failure, heart failure, break failure, bank failure, equipment failure, produ ct failure, etc. Architectural failures therefore refer to those architectural products/outcomes that fall short of supporting the essence of architecture in a particular architectural project, big or small.


Ravee G. (2009) ‘ Architecture Quote: Le Corbusier on the definition of Architecture’ Inspiring Matter [Online] Available At: ( Accessed 5 March 2012) 2 The Penguin dictionary of Architecture & landscape Architecture (Penguin Reference) 3 Songer, A.D., Molenaar, K.R. & Robinson, G.D. ‘Selection Factors and Success Criteria For Design-Build in the US and UK’ [Online] Available At: (accessed 6 March 2012)

Failures, Safety Measures And Risks In Construction J. O. Toluhi, 6 March 2012



Types and causes of Architectural failures

In architecture and architectural projects, failure abounds whether or not they are recognized or appreciated as such. All the above descriptions or definitions can be applied directly to an architectural project and actually suggest the types of architectural failure that there are. A few types, examples and causes of architectural failures are described below: i) Building collapse: this is the example that readily comes to mind as failure considering that a building or project is designed to stand and outlive generations. A...
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