A study of the role of design in building failures with special reference to government owned residential buildings within Nairobi area
Nzwilli, Onesmus Mutuku
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This thesis constitutes a study of the role of design in building failures, with special reference to Government owned residential buildings within Nairobi Area. The study uses frequency of building failures to examine the role played by the design team in contributing to failures and concludes with recommendations to be adopted to minimise the same. The work has been split into three parts. Part I includes the introductory Chapter which covers the general introductory formalities of the study. It sets the premise against which the role of design in building failures is examined. This is followed by two chapters dealing with ,the theoretical framework of building failure characteristics and their causes and, the influence of design in building failures respectively. Part 2 of the thesis consists of the case study. The case study approach has been chosen in the conviction that it is more practical permitting one to deal in greater detail and to develop an in-depth understanding of the role of design in building failures, than. masses of quantitative survey data from all over the country. From the case study, a unique .set of problems that need urgent action by the authorities concerned are exemplified. The design decisions taken by the Ministry of Works, Housing and Physical Planning have an impact on building failures because most of the design decisions are undertaken on an 'ad hoc' basis without any feed-back information from the contractors, users and maintenance supervisors on past experiences and problems. This feed-back information can for m the basis for future design decisions and a criterion for performance measurement since past experiences and problems are supposed to be the designer's raw materials. The design process practised by the same Ministry was also found to be disintegrated, with each professional doing things in "his ' own way. The process does not involve the contractor who is in a better position to advise the design team on the various materials used, their behavioural characteristics, dimensions and tolerance. The contractor is also the person who has the practical experience on the buildability of any building design and has the capabilities and know-how on the application method of all materials. Apart from the contractor, the process does not incorporate the maintenance supervisors and users who can provide feed-back information which is vital. This can lead to avoiding the use of a particular material or finish which is not adequate to a given situation. Education on use and maintenance .of the buildings on the side of the users was found to be lacking. This education is supposed to be imparted to the users by both the design team and the maintenance supervisors. All these problems have resulted in the production of buildings which do not measure upto the expectations of the clients or users. These have had unpleasant implications to the Ministry charged with the responsibility of providing and maintaining Government buildings. The final part of this study is a summary of findings and recommendations, Here, the theoretical concepts defined in Part I and the empirical findings collected in part 2 are brought together and synthesised. Here amendments are proposed to the existing design procedures and policy options stated. It is considered that good design decisions should involve all those affected by the products of the building industry through a blend of traditional design and systems design methods.