Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bureaucracy Creates Safe Environments

Ok, I have taken a bit of a battering about my last article on bureaucracy killing design creativity. I apologize. Perhaps New Zealand is just overloaded with bureaucrats, and after all we do live in an earthquake zone so our building standards do have to be very high.
Anyway I was having a bad day.
I did learn quite a bit from the feedback that I received though, and that was that some of you would love more rules and regulations in your countries that are just developing. I have traveled widely but not in a professional capacity, I haven't delved into local rules and regulations of the countries that I have visited. You are more than welcome to have your say by posting a comment at the end of this article and enlighten us on how your building and design processes work.
It can take 3 to 4 months to get a building consent here. As I mentioned in my last article there are so many boxes to tick now and the drawings and details that need to go into every aspect of the documentation for building work, no matter what scale, from a renovated bathroom to a multi story building has increased considerably adding a very large cost to the customer.
The good thing about this is that I know I will be safe when I visit a shop, department store, factory, education facility as I know that there will be sprinklers, fire exit doors, disabled ramps and the materials used in the construction will be of a high quality and well constructed. All of this I take for granted and I now feel very privilaged to live in such a safe and comfortable country.
Only within the last few weeks did I see a building collapse overseas on TV (sorry can't remember where) because someone had taken down the building next door. One day it just decided to collapse because it no longer had any structural support. Then I realize that our government does give a damn about our health and safety, that would never be allowed to happen in New Zealand.
So I can't change the bureaucracy and now I have come to the conclusion that we are lucky to have it, and the design creativity will just have to get more creative to make sure it complies with all the rules and regulations!

So to conclude, feel free to let me and our readers know about your experiences with the rules and regulations of your country. I now have a passion for finding out how other country's
bureaucracy works and the progress the developing country's are making!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Is Bureaucracy Killing Design Creativity?

Is Bureaucracy Killing Design Creativity?

Yes, most definitely!

Do you know how many government acts, local body acts and planning acts we have to look up before we even start to put pen to paper? So many that I can't list them all, and that is in a small town like Christchurch, New Zealand. We have rules and regulations to cover everything right down to the latest one I recently found out and that was about how close you can plant a tree away from a swimming pool fence!

This is getting a little paranoid, next we will be having to put a roof over the pool in case a small child decides to hang glide out the window or use hot air balloons to get over the fence. I can't believe how crazy the laws have become. I have little children and I never let them out of my sight around water, don't get me wrong, fencing pools is a great idea, but at some point we have to take responsibility for our own actions. We have streams and rivers meandering all the way through our picturesque town and we are an island so we have beaches around our coast line, do we need fences for all of these? No we don't.

Moving on from that on a positive note, we now have extremely good accessible facilities for disable persons. Huge toilets in every public space, ramps and handrails for wheelchairs , disabled car parks, all of which I find great since I frequently visit the disabled toilets with two children in tow so I can lock them in with me and don't lose them in a public space and can safely change nappies (diapers) without bashing my elbows on the sides of the cubicle. Ramps are great for buggies, prams, push chairs too.

So a little bureaucracy is good.

Right now our country has had a major set back (or a kick up the bottom) about leaky homes. Some time ago a few homes were built from substandard materials like untreated timber and lacked flashings at windows and doors which allowed water to enter the buildings and they basically rotted away from the inside out. A major uproar from the public took place as there was supposed to be a building act and code to cover these issues as well as local body authorities who issue building consents and inspect the building progress and provide building compliance certificates. Of course no one took responsibility and many people have had their lives devastated as their homes are no longer fit to live in. Guess what? Yes, you guessed it - more new rules to cover these issues.
When I first started in the design industry about fourteen years ago, the building act had just been put in place and the form for a building consent was two pages, now it is eight with a checklist of four! Just to make sure that you have crossed all your t's and dotted all your i's. You need a diploma in form filling to get to the end!

Where I am getting to is that as glamorous as being a designer may seem, there is so much paper work to make sure you comply with all the rules and regulations, that sometimes you do wonder if is worth picking up your pen and starting to design.
It is, and I just had a great idea, employ someone else to do the paperwork and look after the bureaucrats so you can work on the fun side of design, the aesthetics, as after all, that is what people perceive your design skills on, what they see in front of them, not the 20 hours of answering questions for the bureaucracy! Perhaps we could call them the bureaucrat babysitter, or bureaucrat pacifier?

Thanks for listening, I'm just getting a bit fed up with paperwork not leaving me any quality time to design and be creative and actually do the job that I love.

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