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Kemi Adeyeye, Dino Bouchlaghem, Christine Pasquire, (2010) "A conceptual
framework for hybrid building projects", Facilities, Vol. 28 Issue: 7/8, pp.358-
370, doi: 10.1108/02632771011042464
A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR HYBRID
Kemi Adeyeye (School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton,
Dino Bouchlaghem (Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough
University, Loughborough, UK)
Christine Pasquire (Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough
University, Loughborough, UK)
Adaptation projects constitute a large percentage of work carried out by the
construction industry in the UK. The range of building intervention classed under
building adaptation include; Refurbishment: upgrading the aesthetic and functional
performance of a building (Douglas, 2006), Rehabilitation: modernisation with some
extension work which may comprise major structural alteration to the existing
building; mostly housing (Douglas, 2006), Maintenance: work undertaken in order to
keep, restore or improve every part of a building, its services and surrounds, to a
currently accepted standard, and to sustain the utility and value of the building
(Seeley, 1987), Retrofit or renovation: a process undertaken if the building is in a
good condition but the services and technology within it are outdated (Langston et al.,
2007), as well as adaptive reuse which occurs when a building is converted to
accommodate new functions e.g. an industrial building converted into apartments.
'Hybrid projects' is a phrase, used for the benefit of this research, to define a type of
adaptation project where new elements or buildings are combined with existing
buildings to completely modify it in order to provide better functionality and meet
increased spatial requirements. It is the adaptation of an existing building through a
combination of refurbishment, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. A hybrid project
process can therefore be defined as the organised structure with which a hybrid
building is delivered. This process will include procurement, design and construction
activities. This research focused predominantly on the design stages of this process.
In contrast to new building; design, planning and construction within existing built
contexts necessitates a more complex interaction with the existing building substance,
ancillary infrastructure and their respective spatial requirements. Adapting an existing
building could therefore present a number of difficulties e.g. spatial constraints, code
compliance and disruptions to building use. The key challenge is to achieve value at
the end of the works, and not to lose value. Addy (2004) observed that loss of value
occurs when briefs give no flexibility to the design team, inappropriately high quality
standards, and delays in decisions perhaps due to poor information supply and
unmanaged change. In addition to process issues, people factors can include: poor
communication as well as conflicting agendas, fixed mindsets, recycling old solutions
and more importantly, lack of collaborative working.
The research presented in this paper started with the question of how as-built
information can influence and improve the design decisions made during a hybrid
building project. In exploring answers to this question, it was necessary to explore
how relationships between the various players of the industry influence upon the
design process. This was useful for assessing how to provide information sufficient for
all key parties to collaboratively contribute towards, and evaluate standards, needs and
resources. Frameworks such as the Generic Process Protocol (Kaglioglu et al. 1998),
the Refurbishment Process Model (Anumba et al. 2006), the RIBA plan of work etc.
were explored. The RIBA Plan of Work organises the process of managing, and
designing building projects as well as administering building contracts into a number
of key work stages (RIBA 2008). Research findings suggested that these frameworks
were not entirely suitable in their current form for hybrid projects.
Both qualitative and quantitative (mixed methodology) instruments were used during
the course of this research. Exploratory (quantitative) methods such as surveys
allowed the further development of relevant questions, which allowed for any further
inquiry in the long run (Yin 2003). Qualitative methods such as participative
observations and conceptual mapping were used to explore the subject area and assess
research scope. The research commenced by exploring theoretical underpinnings
surrounding the broad subject of building adaptations through literature review and
translating this to further understand important characteristics of hybrid projects. This
exercise created a knowledge base for the rest of the research.
In order to reinforce findings from literature, case studies of a recently completed and
a live hybrid project was carried out. In addition, a questionnaire survey was
conducted with a sample of one hundred RIBA registered architects. All findings were
triangulated and it was found that the standard process protocols were either too
generic or specific and do not ideally represent a hybrid building process.
A theoretical or conceptual framework is defined as any empirical or quasi-empirical
theory of social and/or psychological processes, at a variety of levels (e.g. grand, mid-
range and explanatory) that can be applied to the understanding of phenomena (Anfara
and Mertz 2006). A number of theoretical approaches exist for social research e.g.
grounded theory and these are widely published. The theoretical framework used for
this research was Bourdieu’s Field Theory. This theory applies to a field as the
common ground with boundaries where the action occurs by players in the field
(Mutch 2006; e.g. Bourdieu 1993). It stems from the Physical Sciences and is mostly
applied in Socio-Psychology realms, describing change due to action and effects. It is
particularly useful for explaining ‘resultant’ change as opposed to ‘causal’ change.
This was highly applicable to this research because solutions are sought for when
change is based on a building’s adaptation processes rather than what caused the
building to be adapted.
Field theory is most applicable to this research for the following reasons:-
Field theory does not attempt to give an explanatory account in terms of systems
or causation (Martin 2003), instead, it agrees with some readily understandable
causal sequence that explains some theoretically accounted-for pattern
(Lundberg 1939 p. 375). This is also a key difference with other theories such as
functional theory, etc.
The context of field gives the opportunity to detail the context in which the
action is taking place and put boundaries around the place of action (Mutch
Multiplicity of settings is not required. The setting or field remains constant and
it uses change to define and explain differentials between actions and effects.
It provides scope for time: functional, periodical or evolutionary. Models can
show a snapshot of time or changes over time (Mutch 2006).
In field theory, explanation stops at the constitution of the field. The fact that the
field at some place and time can be determined to be of a certain nature in no
way implies that it must be this way—indeed, field theory, by never making
explanation reach outside the field, must forswear any legitimating arguments
that there is a reason why the field must be as it is (Martin 2003). Although, this
is considered a limitation for most, this is significantly beneficial to this
It disallows personal prejudices and allows distancing. Field theory has the
notable advantage of forbidding us to apply our self-understanding wholesale,
let alone to crown these prejudices with the title “mechanism” and congratulate
ourselves on a truly scientific understanding (Martin 2003).
Field theory still has a general quality of being intuitively progressive, logical
It allows for the allocation of roles and tasks. Each agent is defined by his or her
position in a field with its own themes and problems, at least so far as the field
possesses autonomy (Bourdieu 1969 , p161f). Within the field, players
have positions that have both roles to be enacted and status carried with them
It supports decision making activities and the impact on processes (or actions
within the field).
There is no need to show complexity within the framework: processes, roles are
more or less defined because models can show positions and relationships.
Therefore, in this context, changes to a building can be implemented through
activities (actions and decisions relative to processes).
Lastly, a structured interview was used to evaluate the framework. A group of 11 experts
participated in the evaluation exercise.
Developing the conceptual framework for hybrid projects
Findings from the review of existing literature, case studies and surveys cannot be
fully discussed within the constraints of this paper but key findings are summarised
• The architectural practice survey reinforced the importance of a process approach
to design delivery. The findings from the survey questionnaire helped to fine-tune
important work stages, roles of design professionals and design responsibilities.
Specifically, the survey also helped to map design information: type, format against
work stages. It also flagged that qualitative (performance) information is highly
important for making design decisions in hybrid projects. The factors that could
affect an effective information process were also identified.
• The case studies highlighted the impact of procurement systems and client-led
decisions/approach on a design information management process. It also provided
an insight into building surveying processes and the impact on design decision
making. Importantly, it was found that contributions towards client and user
satisfaction can be achieved by a collaborative and integrated approach to
information sourcing, communication and interpretation within the design. This
can be achieved if important parties are allowed relevant degrees of participation
during the early design-specific stages of the process.
A defined building process helps to define tasks, actions, decisions and resources
needed to implement the project. Having a process implies that information; actions
and resources can be tracked throughout the spectrum of the project. The RIBA
process was therefore a good point to commence the analysis of a hybrid building
Fig 1. Simplistic conceptual map (Where T= building lifecycle and t=development
Using Field Theory as a theoretical approach facilitated a more systematic approach to
analysing the hybrid project process more systematically and by combining
information and materials with people and logistics, a clearer picture of a hybrid
project process was derived (fig 1). Theoretically, the main driver for a hybrid-
building project is change implemented over time. People using information to derive
a more functional finished project implement change throughout the process. The map
shows the building as the context but also as a constant. The building changes but the
site setting remains the same. At the core of the model is change, as a factor of people,
product (the building) and process. Powering the change is information and function.
Information is dynamic within and throughout the process. By comparison, to
information, function is less dynamic because its dynamism is bound by variables that
are determined at the beginning (from the brief) of the process e.g. cost and almost
fixed by design.
The three main groups of people influencing and participating are the client group, the
user group and building professionals. Their tasks and roles will vary according to
process per time. Change can be divided into subsets of entities i.e. building layers
(Brand, 1994; Duffy, 1993) which are not mutually exclusive. This is because the
hybrid building can only be described by changes within its entities but not changes of
‘all’ entities. That is, it ceases to be hybrid if nothing changes or if everything
Ideally, a detailed framework will also include roles, cost, tasks, players, time frames
as well as responses and feedback loops. Although in this instance, Time (t) – the time
allocated to the works, is considered insignificant compared to the building’s life
cycle – Time (T).
Table 1. Proposed process framework hybrid projects
*It is important to note that the framework incorporates reiterative, non-linear processes, decisions and
activities in concurrent, measurable loops. No design and construction process is implemented in a strictly
linear manner. It is also important to state that the framework evolved alongside a research project and it
highlights various aspects which were relevant for describing and demonstrating the contribution of that
The initial stages of a hybrid project usually comprises of the building itself, its
inherent information and key parties: the client, users and/or the design team. The
challenge at this stage is to unlock the building’s potential by utilising available
resources. Information and communication technologies could potentially play a key
role at this stage. As work progresses and with the interaction of more people,
materials, information to achieve the end product, the hybrid building process and
activities becomes more complex. Lack of quality information could lead to wrong
decisions being made and things going contrary to plan so design information was
also mapped within the process. The evolving map was then separated into sub-levels
of information, parties, sub-processes, decisions and actions (Table 1). The result, the
conceptual framework represents important milestones in the hybrid project process
defined from literature, case studies and the questionnaire survey. It integrates the
various elements of a hybrid project with milestones redefined based on the RIBA
Plan of Work 2007 (Table 2).
Table 2. Comparing the RIBA Plan of Work 2007 and the Hybrid Project Process framework
There are eight milestones in the framework. The outline appraisal and development
plan where a high-level appraisal is conducted by the client team to assess the
potential of an existing building and determine the resources (including historical
data) available for its transformation. The core team procurement stage is mostly
designed for the early selection and contractual arrangement with important
professionals. This stage is important for collaborative decisions to take place.
Conceptual designs and preparations for planning permission and other legal
requirements commence at this stage too. The third milestone is the building
performance evaluation stage. At this stage, historical documents are brought up to
date by integrating previous data with current data abstracted from the existing
building itself. Historical data and as-built information are superimposed and layered
to determine conflicts and resolve them collaboratively prior to commencement of
work on site.
Importantly, the buildability and adaptability of the building is also determined and
the designs are revised to reflect the conflicts and constraints identified from as-built
information. In addition, the brief is revised to reflect information from the appraisal
and performance evaluation milestones. With all possible information acquired and
communicated, the brief can be sealed at this stage. The next milestone – design
activity does not represent the stage where design commences, but it is at this stage
that design options are investigated, choices and decisions made collaboratively and
the final design and specifications produced. Although the design is finalised at this
stage, design decisions may still be required during the construction stages depending
on how the framework was implemented. However, the expectation is that design
changes will be minimal as all design uncertainties have been resolved prior to
construction. Milestone 6 and 7 - planning/logistics and the construction stages were
not evaluated as they were outside the scope of the research. After construction, all
building information for design and construction monitoring, building operation and
maintenance can then be consolidated in the last milestone.
The design subset of the hybrid building process
According to Sheil (2005), architectural design does not end as the tools of fabrication
are put into action. On the contrary, making is a discipline that can instigate rather than
merely solves ideas – in other words a design process. Design itself is however, a
continual process of selecting and organising elements, trying to establish which are the
most important and how they might all play a part in the creation of the new product
and inevitably ideas change as possibilities are added or discounted, as proposals are
conceived and considered (Tunstall, 2007). Tunstall (2007 p25-26) also stated that a
typical design development process will involve the following actions: analysis,
synthesis, appraisal and feedback, adding that these actions are cyclical and not linear.
It has been shown that more than 80% of commonly associated problems in the
construction industry are process related (Kagioglou et al., 1998), therefore an
investigation into the hybrid building process, as for any other building project, is a
worthwhile exercise. In addition, design process for hybrid buildings is fundamentally
different from that of new-build work. Hybrid buildings, as with most adaptation work,
deal more with synthesis rather than analysis (Gregg and Crosbie, 2001). In new-build
work, the designer starts with a clean sheet and progressively builds up his design ab
initio while in existing built context, the task is more akin to detective work, with the
designers endeavouring to gather information by assessing the existing building and to
develop the design work to be comparable with it (CIRIA, 1997).
Findings from research unanimously indicate that planning and control are substituted
by chaos and improvising in design, causing: poor communication, lack of adequate
documentation, deficient or missing input information, unbalanced resource
allocation, lack of coordination between disciplines, and erratic decision making
(Freire and Alarcon, 2000). The complex, inter-disciplinary and fragmented nature of
the design and construction process is often used as an excuse. After all, a chaotic
design process is not the one where superior functional properties are systematically
provided for the client and where constructible design solutions and clear, error-free
documents, for their part, ensure a smooth construction phase. Clearly, in order to
improve construction in general, the design process has to be better controlled
Information, decision, people and activity subsets of the hybrid building process
The nature of hybrid projects is likely to necessitate effective information, decisions
and activity protocols which can be used to organise people and material processes.
Information for design consists of general and project-specific information. General
information is information that is not generated for a particular project but which is
most often the product of a research institution, a codes body or a commercial firm.
While, project-specific information is information that is generated for a particular
project, which flows between the participants, receiving additions and undergoing
transformations as the project progresses (Davidson, 2004). Project-specific
information is further divided into process and product information (Bouchlaghem et
al. 2004). The research on which this paper is based focused on the latter. Product
information comprises information about the product – the building.
As Albert Einstein said, ‘Knowledge is experience, everything else is just
information’. Experience acquired through the practice of design is seen as readily
available, quicker to use, and more ‘palatable’ compared to information in a written
form (Mackinder and Marvin, 1982). However, Gigerenzer (1996) pointed out that
people are interested in good judgement, and good judgement requires an analysis of
content, in addition to laws, principles, and axioms. Accurately presented information
aids good judgement and this could translate to informed design decisions made at the
early stages of the process.
Design decisions require a combination of both knowledge and information to varying
degrees. Galbraith said that a basic proposition is that the greater the uncertainty of the
task, the greater the amount of information that has to be processed between decision
makers during the execution of the task. However, if the task is well understood prior
to performing it (because of the amount of information available) much of the activity
can be pre-planned. But if it is not understood, then during the actual task execution,
more knowledge is acquired which then leads to (decision) changes in resource
allocations, schedules and priorities (Galbraith, 1974).
For design, different types of information are required for decision making depending
on the requirements of the project. The type of information and extent of detail would
clearly be related to the project and the parties involved but would generally include
the management of time, cost, quality, health and safety, environmental impact, and
the exchange of information and communications (i.e. administrative, technical,
financial or legal information, and the systems and procedures that they use)
(Bouchlaghem et al., 2004).
Broadly, during the project execution, the interests of three distinct client groups are
represented — the owners, the users and society. These three groups of interest each
value different things at different times in the life of the building (Bertelsen and
Emmitt, 2005) and the information requirements at different stages of projects will
defer. Emmitt and Gorse (2003) linked everything together in describing a
collaborative approach to design, where different people with varying knowledge and
expertise will work together. When working in a group, making an informed decision
is about utilising the relevant specialist information that is relevant to the problem,
some members will possess more knowledge on issues than others. What is important
is that the most relevant information is accessed (Emmitt and Gorse, 2003).
The aim of evaluating the framework was to explore the accuracy and extent by which
it describes and facilitates an improvement of the hybrid building process. Eleven
design and construction professionals; 2 architects, 2 engineers, 1 building surveyor, 1
development manager/ employer agent, 2 collaboration managers and 1 design
consultant reviewed the framework and provided perceived feedback on its coverage,
efficiency and functionality. Each evaluator had a working knowledge of hybrid
projects with the exception of one engineer who was working on his first hybrid
project. The evaluation session commenced with a discussion of the research
objectives and an introduction to the framework. The participant is then allowed time
to evaluate the framework and ask questions. After which they were required to
answer pre-set questions by rating variables based on the Likert scale (1=low and
5=high). Each session lasted at least 45mins. Time and logistical constraints limited
the use of workshops or stakeholder forums.
The evaluation was however limited by the number of participants involved and the
limited client representation. Feedback from clients and other stakeholders would
have been highly beneficial for the research.
Discussion of findings
Participants highlighted that for the framework to work, a contract/agreement must be
made early in the process to promote confidence and commitment by the core
development team who may be required to provide professional services and advice
prior to tendering. The assurance of a job commission or payment will ensure the
participation of the core development team, especially contractors.
As per framework efficiency, one participant said, ‘I think it will act as an effective
filtering of non-participation and incompleteness’. Another said, ‘the framework
highlights the importance of obtaining information early – this is important for
reducing defects at a later stage’.
In terms of functionality, participants feedback could be summarised in the comment
that, ‘the framework will be most effective if engaged by the client to facilitate with
brief development prior to design team appointment. Another commented that, ‘I
think that most designers follow a chaotic development path, influenced by all forms
of variability. And to have a systematic path that guides the thinking and decision-
making process will be extremely useful’. One participant wondered if it were
possible to map cost/cost implications as well as risks across the process. It was also
suggested that the granularity of information (i.e. type of information and
corresponding level of detail) be displayed within the framework for each milestone.
With the exception of architects, all the participants generally considered the
framework an improvement to the RIBA process. Participating architects however,
stated that the framework currently requires tailoring to standard terminology.
However, they would not object if the client wishes to adopt it in its current form.
Pointing out that the framework will be more effective if client-led, as opposed to
based on the architect’s recommendation. Architects considered that the information-
intensive nature of the framework was onerous and would not wish to take on the
responsibility without remuneration.
In general, evaluators said it was good to see extrapolation of table to programmes,
critical paths and priority within each category. However, the successful
implementation of the framework for hybrid projects will require the re-orientation of
the mindset of project stakeholders.
Evaluators of the framework suggested that despite being developed for hybrid
buildings, the framework would apply for most building projects. One reason is
because it recommends early procurement of the core development team. The
efficiency of the framework depends on this as it has direct impact on establishing
buildability criteria, refining the brief as well as reducing design risk and change as
the process progresses.
The key functionality of the framework was considered to provide process
improvement, collaborative planning and decisions especially for design. The
framework covers all milestones for any design and construction project and it
highlights key information, decisions and actions that needs to be made en-route. The
framework is particularly relevant for hybrid projects and it has been evaluated to be
progressively relevant and applicable for the efficient delivery of these classes of
projects and indeed any other building project.
Lastly, decision making is never an exact science, among others, it can be objective,
subjective, rational or irrational (McElroy, 2008). Depending on the nature of the
project, the procurement method, client type, client involvement etc., the level of
information available/acquired, decisions and actions taken in each project might
differ. Any framework however detailed cannot be all-encompassing; it acts a guide, a
supporting structure on which thoughts, activities and products are delivered. The
hybrid project process framework provides the basic structure and its application will
vary depending on the complexities of each project.
This paper presented a conceptual process framework for the delivery of hybrid
projects. Findings from evaluating the framework showed that it realises its objective
and provides a high-level guide for facilitating informed, yet collaborative, design
decision making. The framework is explicit in defining processes, parties,
information, decisions and actions required at each stage of a hybrid project. It also
promotes concurrency in design, planning and construction activity, which could be
reiterated depending on the peculiarity of each individual project. There are subjective
issues, which are not highly visible within the framework. Factors such as cost,
time/delivery, legal and contractual issues were mentioned but not emphasised within
the framework, since the research focus was information, design/design decisions.
Nonetheless, these issues have been raised by evaluators to be of equal importance
and will be worth investigating in future research projects.
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