2008 : Managing Risk



The Global Financial Crisis and its aftermath, shone the spotlight on risk management.

In the field of Education Architecture risk management and mitigation has taken a number of forms.

  • A series of checklists have been introduced to ensure that our designs are safe

  • Tender documentation is now required to include budget risk strategies and contractors must demonstrate their risk management credentials

  • Spreadsheets have been formulated to ensure that all of the boxes are ticked.

Eight years on, it is hard to gauge the positive outcome of these efforts.

Education Architects are always conscious of the safety of the spaces they design. A checklist won't ensure safety and a spreadsheet cannot guarantee quality or cost control.

Tender pricing is not as competitive today as it once was due to the complexity of our documentation. The management of budget risk has, in effect, inflated pricing.

Probably the saddest outcome of this risk adverse environment can be seen in the playground. The swing and see-saw have disappeared, rocks are not allowed and trees cannot be climbed.

The thrill of the playground has disappeared for good and we now have a generation of risk adverse children as a result.

In an era where the entrepreneur is championed, is the removal of risk really serving our learners well? Would it be better practice to enable risk, by supporting the processes of engaging with it in a controlled learning environment?

This beautiful tree, having been carefully designed into the landscape as a feature in the new school design was identified as a risk during the construction phase of the project.

The mitigation strategy adopted by the planning committee; to audit, manage and monitor the tree was rejected by the Project Manager and it was instructed that the tree should be removed.

The result of risk management in this instance is disturbing. Has it really now reached the point that we can't retain and celebrate trees in our schools due to a perceived associated risk?

Surely some risks are worth taking?