Home / Results / Living Labs / Living Lab #6 – Value creation and business results


The sixth Living Lab took place on October 27th 2015 with Ballast Nedam as host. The research team as well as the consortium were welcomed on the construction site of the penitentiary in Zaanstad. After a guided tour on the impressive construction site, Marina Bos-de Vos presented her first results of her study of the past year. This study focuses on the tensions in the value interaction between the architect and client. Marina studies how architects create and capture value in the interaction with their partners. Subsequently, she explores where difficulties emerge in the process and how value related tensions could be eased and avoided in the future. The aim is to contribute to the construction of healthy business models for delivering architectural services.

In a new round of interviews, Marina has gained more in-depth information on value creation and value capture within the delivery of architectural services. A selection of the preliminary results was translated into four statements. These statements were validated by the perspectives and experiences of the consortium members.

The first statement is about the possibilities of an architect to create value in the beginning of the process. For example, architects can help convincing funders and municipalities. Many architects are able to convince stakeholders with a powerful argument or persuasive images. The consortium agreed that an architect certainly could play a role in the initial phase of a project. An architect provides the opportunity to direct towards a unique project, not only from esthetical perspective, but also from strategic perspective.

The second statement is related to the financial expertise of an architect. During negotiations between architects and clients, they often speak another language. Architects mainly describe activities, while clients are mostly interested in performances. Financial expertise could help an architect to express performances in economic value and moreover to negotiate for more honorarium. The consortium agreed that financial expertise helps to sell architectural services. However, a question that emerges is: ‘Should this expertise be internal or external within an architectural firm?’.

The third statement states that architects create more quality than clients or end-users ask for. Resulting from personal and/or professional passion, architects always seek for the highest possible quality. In order to achieve the highest quality, more time is spent than there is paid for. This ‘extra quality’ is not always required from the perspective of the client, or may even be undesirable. Though, creating extra quality is the essence of the architect’s activity. However, the architect will not get paid extra.

The fourth and last statement is about the ‘design based thinking’ by architects during the technical preparation phase and execution phase. The interviews show that the technical preparation is of crucial importance for architects. This phase contains possibilities to guarantee the quality of the project. However, clients often choose for another party during these phases. This choice is made, since there is among others distrust about the technical knowledge of architects. The consortium confirmed that there is an increasing distinction between design and engineering. Design solutions are, however, also required during the engineering phase. So, when the design process and preparation process are not well defined, it is possible that disruptions occur. Though, it is also possible that those disruptions create an added value.