“Failing to rehearse a detail as a process rather than an object, is failure in demonstrating attention to the detail to begin with.” – Archifiller™

All About The Sequence

When a construction manager plans to erect a building in accordance with presented plans and specifications, he/she visualises the most practical process for putting together the various parts that constitute the whole building. The same logic should hold true for the architectural detailer. The detailer’s job is to analyse and understand how a particular detail they are draughting will be assembled in practice – step by step – in order to be confident that it is capable of going together smoothly on site. This is referred to as rehearsing the construction sequence.

The act of rehearsing the construction sequence can be useful in exposing many problems that may remain hidden until the building is under construction. This could be problems such as:

  • Building components not fitting together easily and cost effectively
  • Complex and irregular junctions not being carefully thought-out, resulting in on-site low-quality amendments
  • Lack of installation access being accommodated for subcontractors to carry out their work, and even
  • inefficiencies in construction resources, where the same building trade may have to revisit the same detail more than twice at different intervals.

By applying this tool to details early on, kinks can be ironed out before they grow into a bigger challenge later on, establishing better ways of achieving the same detail, especially when elaborate assemblies or unfamiliar construction techniques are being employed.

A typical single-storey timber-framed home

An example of rehearsing the construction sequence could be highlighted with the above image, which is showing a typical single-storey timber-framed house on an in-situ concrete floor slab.

If we took a sectional detail through the external wall-to-floor junction to the left of the image, the rehearsal of the construction sequence in steps would look something like the following:

  1. Hazardous substances on site are removed and the land is prepared for construction
  2. Excavation works for footings and foundations is undertaken
  3. A damp-proof-membrane (DPM) separation layer is laid (to manage ground moisture)
  4. Steel reinforcing for the foundation slab edge and floor are laid, while being co-ordinated with a suitable underfloor insulation product
  5. Concrete mix for the foundation slab edge is prepared and poured
  6. Concrete floor slab mixture is prepared and poured
  7. A damp-proof-course (DPC) separation layer is adhered to the slab edge where the timber-framed wall meets the concrete floor (to manage moisture movement between dissimilar materials)
  8. Timber-framed wall is erected and bolted into the concrete floor slab edge
  9. External sheathing is lined and fixed to the timber-framed wall with suitable fixings, such as screws
  10. And so forth……

The sequence that emerges from conducting this simple exercise will inform the manner in which the detail will be considered and put together on site. Thus, the detail drawn for this specific junction and issued for construction to inform the construction manager must imitate this exact sequence. If not, problems will arise.

Application Of The Sequence

If a detailer can habituate to draughting details in the order in which they would be assembled on site, then they are on the right track to unlocking the true potential of this technique. With that being said, here is a non-exhaustive list of how rehearsing the construction sequence can be applied in practice when draughting details:

  • Closely inspect what you are drawing – can it be fabricated in a satisfactory manner?
  • Consider potential inefficiencies, such as repeated visits by the same trade or an excessive number of separate trades required to construct the detail junction
  • Is there sufficient space for a subcontractor to install and fit each element that constitutes the detail, including fixings?
  • Is there a high risk of previously completed work being scratched, stained or even damaged by the following trade? If so, how can this be eliminated or minimised?
  • Are off-the-shelf tools and simple operations required to achieve the detail?

No matter the scale of the project or the complexity of the design brief, the philosophy behind rehearsing the construction sequence is helpful to all who engage in the skill of detailing.

Final Note

Failing to rehearse a detail as a process rather than an object, is failure in demonstrating attention to the detail to begin with. To become an effective designer of realistic details, you must be self-critical and question what you are draughting. Always simplify.

At the end of the day, rehearsing the construction sequence is to the benefit of everybody involved in achieving the build.

Written by Thomas Denhardt – Founder and Creative Director of Archifiller™

Editorial Quiz

  1. How should details be rehearsed?
  2. What is a typical problem that rehearsing the construction sequence can reveal?
  3. What is one manner in which rehearsing the construction sequence can be applied in practice?

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