Designer Role in the Schematic Design Phase - Lceted -lceted LCETED INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL ENGINEERS

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May 26, 2024

Designer Role in the Schematic Design Phase - Lceted

Initial Project Brief and Data Identification

Upon understanding the initial project brief from the client, the designer identifies the data required for project development. This data is crucial even before performing a site audit and includes specific parameters for space audits and behavioral programs. The designer and consultants review relevant codes and laws to ensure the project meets all minimum requirements.

Collating Data and Developing the Design Program

Data from the space audit, behavioral program, and code review are collated by the designer to develop an architectural/design program. This program forms the basis for creating proximity matrices and bubble diagrams, essential before proceeding with schematic plans and layouts.

Reviewing Site Audit Data and Performing Site Analysis

After the design program is established, the designer reviews the site audit data and performs site analysis. For fitout projects, a test-fit plan is developed, while for ground-up projects, schematic plans and form studies are created from the architectural program.

Property Procurement and Due Diligence

During the Property Procurement phase, the design team collaborates with the Project Director and specialist technical consultants to ensure thorough due diligence. This phase involves needs analysis and close examination of the business and its teams.

Developing Client Requirements into Concept Design Packages

The schematic design phase involves developing design schemes using data from the discovery phase. The designer interacts with stakeholders to verify data and may organize participatory design workshops with the Project Director's help.

Participatory Design Workshops

In these workshops, representatives from each department collaborate to develop schematic designs. This is particularly useful for departments with complex functions and workflows. The workshops are organized and facilitated by the design team with logistical support from the Project Director.

Deliverables and Review Process

Presenting Initial Schemes

The design team presents three initial schemes to the client, who usually selects one scheme or a combination of elements from multiple schemes for further development. The design contract typically includes a set number of iterations for the schematic design phase, with additional revisions incurring extra costs.

Importance of Documentation

Well-documented minutes of meetings by the Project Director are essential for tracking recommendations and comments from the client, serving as a reference for revising schematic drawings.

Design Development and Contract Document Phases

Detailed Design Development

In the design development phase, the chosen schematic design is refined with more details, including floor finishes, ceiling finishes, lighting layouts, doors, and windows. This phase is dependent on the timely completion of the schematic design phase.

Coordination with Engineering Consultants

The developed design is sent to engineering consultants for creating engineering drawings. Clash detection ensures coherence among different plans, and necessary revisions are made before seeking approvals for construction.

Construction Phase

Designer's Involvement

During the construction phase, the design team ensures plans are followed and produces additional drawings necessary for project completion, such as cabinet details and floor tile layouts.

Planning and Coordination

Onboarding and Clarification Meetings

The Project Director endorses the project brief to the design team during the onboarding meeting. The design team may seek further clarifications from the client through scheduled meetings or other communication channels.

Participatory Design Workshops

These workshops facilitate collaboration among client representatives to develop design schemes and gain insights from users.

Presentation and Approval of Schemes

The design team presents schematic designs to the management committee for approval. Approved schemes are further developed and presented to stakeholders.

Timeline and Iterations

Managing Timelines for Smaller and Larger Projects

For smaller projects (<1000sqm), 2 months is usually sufficient for schematic design and development, including revisions. Larger or more complex projects require longer timelines.

Development and Revisions

Developing requirements into concept design packages typically takes 3 weeks for fitout projects. If participatory design workshops are involved, an additional week may be ideal. A 2-week period for review and revisions is generally sufficient.

Coordination and Updates

Regular Updates to the Project Director

The design team updates the Project Director at least once a week on progress. The design team may need to verify site conditions and measurements if an as-found plan has not been made.

Challenges and Client Involvement

Handling Complex Projects

For complex projects, specialists may be involved early in the schematic design phase, and participatory design workshops can gather better insights from users.

Client Involvement

The client is involved during participatory design workshops, deliberation, and approval of schemes. The client may also need to provide legal documents and other relevant data.

Fee Structuring

Accurate Fee Structuring

Accurate fee structuring is critical for competing in the market. It involves estimating project costs and team compensation based on talents, skills, experience, and professional services provided at different project stages.


The designer's role in the schematic design phase is comprehensive, involving initial data identification, program development, and detailed design processes. Effective coordination, regular updates, and thorough documentation are essential for the project's success, along with accurate fee structuring to ensure economic viability.


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