Thursday, 28 March 2013

TECHNICAL FILES: The role of cost manager in Real Estate projects

Real Estate projects engage a wide set of stakeholders, among promoters, contractors, designers and consultants. It’s an industry that is very exposed to derived demand effects, which is the same that saying that is very volatile to disruptions in demand from final customers. In this way, variables like productivity, profitability and cost play an essential role. On this kind of multidisciplinary teams, there is the tendency to an inefficient communication between the promoter/owner and the remaining stakeholders, making the management of these variables difficult.

In a market where clients tend sometimes to choose the lowest-priced contractors, it is common to verify the existence of unrealistic low price proposals – with the development of the project, either contractors ask for post-contract extras or don’t meet with the agreed quality level. The opposite can also happen, through the presentation of inflated proposals that don’t meet with the reality of the market. Several cost control mistakes can also be verified in the design phase – usually designers don’t take into consideration cost control issues, originating unnecessary cost increases that hardly represent added-value for the project. Also in the execution phases cost control is not well assured, causing the noncompliance with the stipulated costs and budget overruns.

"Rua do Alecrim" is a project in which DIMSCALE is been providing cost management consultancy since its design phase
Cost management makes the connection between all stakeholders, preserving the interests of the client regarding the costs of the project. Should be integrated from the design phase, in order to work directly with the architecture team and early optimize costs. The cost manager provides with its specialized technical knowledge, expertise in constructive solutions and should seek to understand and preserve the concept drawn by the design team. In this way, it’s important that the cost manager owns both the technical and conceptual backgrounds. All design changes are discussed with the client, to whom are presented all possible scenarios and respective cost implications. The cost management team should in this way be composed by professionals with specific technical expertise in all different specialties.

Cost consultancy should provide also with all quantity surveying work, assuring that the project is accurately quantified and all written and drawn information is correct. Also all the information from different specialties should be compatibilized. Quantity surveying work assures that all information is taken into consideration and avoids eventual errors and misinformation, enabling to establish an accurate cost for the project. This cost prevision is also based on market consultations, being its final values the base of the specifications document that is delivered to applicant contractors. The quality of the work done so far will enable the promoter, together with the cost manager, to negotiate a fairer deal with the selected contractor. 

During the execution phases, cost management continues to act as a link between the project team (designers, contractors and other consultants) and the promoter/owner in order to control all the costs involved. After being made an optimization of the invested capital in the early stages, the job of the cost manager in the execution phase is to assure that is being followed the stipulated plan regarding the project’s costs. The goals are to prevent budget overruns situations and to safeguard the final quality of the project.

"Rua do Alecrim" is a project in which DIMSCALE is been providing cost management consultancy since its design phase

Photos: João Morgado

The work of engineer Nelson Fiedler on the roof of Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Quantity Surveying: the next generation

This month edition of the specialised magazine "The Building Economist" focused on the next generation of quantity surveyors, departing from the experience of two young quantity surveyors. The construction market is being influenced by major technological improvements and the new generation of quantity surveyors have the duty to bring new ideas to the industry, leveraging also these new technological possibilities.

Check out the complete edition of March's "The Building Economist" at their website.

The content of the images is property of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

Click on the images to apply zoom.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


House N
Oita, Japan
Sou Fujimoto, Japan

Year: 2008
Site Area: 236 sqm
Photos: Iwan Baam

Project's description on
"A home for two plus a dog. The house itself is comprised of three shells of progressive size nested inside one another. The outermost shell covers the entire premises, creating a covered, semi-indoor garden. Second shell encloses a limited space inside the covered outdoor space. Third shell creates a smaller interior space. Residents build their life inside this gradation of domain.

I have always had doubts about streets and houses being separated by a single wall, and wondered that a gradation of rich domain accompanied by various senses of distance between streets and houses might be a possibility, such as: a place inside the house that is fairly near the street; a place that is a bit far from the street, and a place far off the street, in secure privacy.

That is why life in this house resembles to living among the clouds. A distinct boundary is nowhere to be found, except for a gradual change in the domain. One might say that an ideal architecture is an outdoor space that feels like the indoors and an indoor space that feels like the outdoors. In a nested structure, the inside is invariably the outside, and vice versa. My intention was to make an architecture that is not about space nor about form, but simply about expressing the riches of what are `between` houses and streets.

Three nested shells eventually mean infinite nesting because the whole world is made up of infinite nesting. And here are only three of them that are given barely visible shape. I imagined that the city and the house are no different from one another in the essence, but are just different approaches to a continuum of a single subject, or different expressions of the same thing- an undulation of a primordial space where humans dwell. This is a presentation of an ultimate house in which everything from the origins of the world to a specific house is conceived together under a single method."

Friday, 22 March 2013

Arantxa's first two months in DIMSCALE

On January 21st we welcomed Arantxa Arano in our office, that is doing an international internship with us. With a degree in Building Engineering, Arantxa is helping us with several projects and obtaining training in the areas of Quantity Surveying and Financial Project Management. We asked Arantxa to write for the blog about her experience in these first two months.


"It’s already more than two months since I arrived to Portugal to work as an intern. It’s true what they say, time flies by, because I remember the day I got here as it was yesterday. I still have four months ahead, and I’m really enjoying my stay in here. I’m glad I was given this opportunity, because working or studying abroad had always been on my mind, and this was great timing because I had just finished studying a master’s degree before moving to this country.

As a civil engineer, until now, I only had had experience working as an intern on construction sites, so working on Dimscale was a great opportunity to learn more about the process of making the measurements that are the key of a good financial control and also indispensable when having to construct or renovate a building. The previous experiences I had as an intern were really good to understand the building process, because I was able to see the construction of the building live, getting to understand how all elements of a building work together. However, I recently realized that the procedure of measuring the different elements that are part of a building is a very laborious work that gives you a thorough idea of the whole process. Therefore, you get to understand the way buildings work because you have to gain an understanding of the way materials and constructive solutions function. Therefore, learning about building measurement is being very satisfying. When I was in college, I had a subject about how measurements are supposed to be made, but I was only given a general idea of the process, and right now I’m having the chance to really learn the technique.

Being part of the Arrebita!Porto project is also one of the reasons why I decided to come here, not just because the social reasons involved on the project, but also because I have the opportunity to work in an international environment, getting to work with architects and engineers from all over the world. It has been a really rewarding experience and I am looking forward to continuing working with them so I can contribute in my small way to the innovative idea of rehabilitation at zero cost.

Besides this, practicing my English was another goal of mine, and this adventure also meets those requirements. In addition, I’m attending Portuguese classes, so I can add another language to my CV, even though it’s a very basic level. I can at least say that I almost understand the language, even if I’m not capable of speaking it yet. Actually, I’m very happy because of that since I had problems to understand the language even if Spanish and Portuguese are supposed to be similar languages.

To sum up, the four months I have left might be useful for expanding my knowledge on constructive concepts and languages, so I can’t complain. Right now I’m focused on making the most of what this company and country have to offer.

Best regards/Melhores cumprimentos/Un saludo/Agur bat


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Azerbaijan's urban development - "Build It Bigger"

We share another episode of the American TV show "Build It Bigger", this time focusing the major Real Estate development happening in Azerbaijan. The episode is centered on two reference projects: The Flame Towers (by HOK) and Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center (by Zaha Hadid), both located in Baku.

We'll continue to follow some of the projects that are happening in this country. For now watch this episode of "Build It Bigger", that includes the 720p visualization feature.

The Flame Towers
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

ARCHITECTURE REFERENCES - Vitrahaus, Herzog & de Meuron

Weil am Rhein, Germany
Herzog & de Meuron

Year: 2011
Photos: Iwan Baam

ArchDaily's text about the project:
In January 2004, Vitra launched its Home Collection, which includes design classics as well as re-editions and products by contemporary designers. As a company whose previous activity was primarily focused on office furnishings and business clients, Vitra created the Home Collection with a new target group in mind: individual customers with an interest in design.

Since no interior space was available for the presentation of the Home Collection on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, the company commissioned Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron in 2006 to design the VitraHaus. Thanks to its exposed location and striking appearance, it not only enhances the already outstanding ensemble of Vitra architecture, but assumes the important role of marking the Vitra Campus. Standing on the northern side of the grounds in front of the fenced perimeter of the production premises, the VitraHaus joins two other buildings in this area, the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry (1989) and the Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando (1993). The ample size of the plot made it possible to position the new structure a good distance away from the Vitra Design Museum and adjacent gatehouse, making room for an extension of the orchard meadow in front of the buildings, a typical feature of the local landscape.

The concept of the VitraHaus connects two themes that appear repeatedly in the oeuvre of Herzog & de Meuron: the theme of the archetypal house and the theme of stacked volumes. In Weil am Rhein, it was especially appropriate to return to the idea of the ur-house, since the primary purpose of the five-storey building is to present furnishings and objects for the home. Due to the proportions and dimensions of the interior spaces – the architects use the term ‘domestic scale’ – the showrooms are reminiscent of familiar residential settings. The individual ‘houses’, which have the general characteristics of a display space, are conceived as abstract elements. With just a few exceptions, only the gable ends are glazed, and the structural volumes seem to have been shaped with an extrusion press. Stacked into a total of five stories and breathtakingly cantilevered up to 49 feet in some places, the twelve houses, whose floor slabs intersect the underlying gables, create a three-dimensional assemblage – a pile of houses that, at first glance, has an almost chaotic appearance.

The charcoal color of the exterior stucco skin unifies the structure, ‘earths’ it and connects it to the surrounding landscape. Like a small, vertically layered city, the VitraHaus functions as an entryway to the Campus. A wooden plank floor defines an open central area, around which five buildings are grouped: a conference area, an exhibition space for the chair collection of the Vitra Design Museum and a conglomerate comprising the Vitra Design Museum Shop, the lobby with a reception area and cloakroom, and a café with an outdoor terrace for summer use. A lift takes visitors to the fourth storey, where the circular tour begins. Upon exiting the lift, the glazed northern end of the room offers a spectacular view of the Tüllinger Hill. The opposite end – where the glass front is recessed to create an exterior terrace – opens to a panorama of Basel with the industrial facilities of the pharmaceutical sector. As one discovers on the path through the VitraHaus, the directional orientation of the houses is hardly arbitrary, but is determined by the views of the surrounding landscape.

The complexity of the interior space arises not only from the angular intersection of the individual houses but also from the integration of a second geometrical concept. All of the staircases are integrated into expansive, winding organic volumes that figuratively eat their way through the various levels of the building like a worm, sometimes revealing fascinating visual relationships between the various houses, at other times blocking the view. The interior walls are finished in white in order to give priority to the furniture displays.

With maximum dimensions of 187 feet in length, 177 feet in width and 69.8 feet in height, the VitraHaus rises above the other buildings on the Vitra Campus. The deliberate intention was not to create a horizontal building, the common type for production facilities, but rather a vertically oriented structure with a small footprint, which grants an overview in multiple senses: an overview of the surrounding landscape and the factory premises, but also an overview of the Home Collection. Just as interior and exterior spaces interpenetrate, so do two types of forms: the orthogonal-polygonal, as perceived from the exterior, and the organic, which produces a series of spatial surprises in the interior – a ‘secret world’ (in the words of Herzog & de Meuron) with a suggestive, almost labyrinthine character. On their path through the five stories, visitors traverse the Vitra Home cosmos, ultimately returning to their starting point.

The VitraHaus has a daytime view and a night time view. In the evening, the perspective is reversed. During the day, one gazes out of the VitraHaus into the landscape, but when darkness falls, the illuminated interior of the building glows from within, while its physical structure seems to dissipate. The rooms open up; the glazed gable ends turn into display cases that shine across the Vitra Campus and into the surrounding countryside."