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The futurA project (future value chains of architectural services) analyses existing and develops new revenue and organizational models for the architectural field. This 4-year project, conducted by Delft University of Technology, Radboud University Nijmegen and BNA, is one of the 23 projects that have been initiated in the creative industry top sector by NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. The aim of the project is to discover changes in the work field of the architect, caused by social shifts and the financial crisis and to uncover possible future opportunities.

Revenues of architectural firms have drastically declined since the beginning of the economic crisis. For a large part this has simply been caused by a decreasing demand for new buildings, but architects are also struggling to successfully adapt to their shifting roles and new responsibilities. Architects are creative and are able to translate conceptual models into solutions for practice. Therefore, they can have an added value for the construction industry, which is currently transforming itself to become more efficient and to deliver higher quality services.

Earlier research shows that architects are currently taking on new roles more often than before. For example, they can act as system integrator, product developer, process manager or network coordinator. FuturA is going to define the future playing field of the architect. It aims to support a new positioning within the professional relationship with clients, contractors and users. Changing revenue and organizational models demand different skills of architects. When aspiring to become a product developer for example, one has to be capable to conduct market research. And whoever is aiming to achieve a star-architect status will need to be able to serve international markets. Even traditional architects can’t afford to limit themselves only to designing nowadays. Since most architectural firms are fairly limited in size, employees are expected to have basic knowledge on writing a business plan, management and entrepreneurship.

The primary goal of futurA is to design economically profitable and socially sustainable organizational networks for the architectural field. To do so, current and future relationships between client (the traditional buyer), architect (the traditional service provider) and user will be analysed. The results will contribute to a healthy architectural service sector by identifying manageable revenue and organizational models that are focused on the future service delivery of architects and the necessary competencies to deliver those services. Besides recommendations for the education of architectural students, futurA will be providing new educational products to professionalize existing architectural firms.

The futurA project runs two parallel PhD-programs at Delft University of Technology (faculty of Architecture) and Radboud University Nijmegen (faculty of Business Administration). Together with the two universities, BNA, De Zwarte Hond, EGM architects, IAA Architects, JHK Architects, Rothuizen Architects, Ballast Nedam, Havensteder and the Central Government Real Estate Agency are involved as consortium members. Other organizations will also be approached to contribute to the research in order to represent the current and future industry situation as accurately as possible.

In five studies current governance and business models of architectural service delivery will be analysed, trends and market developments in architecture will be identified and the results will be connected to scenarios to develop new network based revenue and organizational models.

Research team

Prof.dr.ir. J.W.F. (Hans) Wamelink, Delft University of Technology – Promotor TUD

Prof. Dr. K. (Kristina) Lauche, Radboud University Nijmegen – Promotor RUN

Dr.ir. L. (Leentje) Volker, Delft University of Technology – Project manager/Daily supervisor TUD

Dr. A.A.J. (Armand) Smits, Radboud University Nijmegen – Daily supervisor RUN

Ir. M. (Marina) Bos – de Vos, Delft University of Technology – PhD candidate TUD

B.M. (Bente) Lieftink MSc, Radboud University Nijmegen – PhD candidate RUN