We talk with Ting-Wei, Senior Architect - Industrial, about the future of industrial architecture and technology trends that are shaping the way designers and users view a space.
1. With almost 18 years of architecture experience, what makes you passionate about industrial architecture in the food and beverage market?
It is exciting to have the opportunity to create spaces that can transform our client’s business. We work on a wide variety of projects, from the expansion of existing process facilities to new large distribution centres, amenities facility upgrades for staff and brand new power substations. Our job is to ensure the building and spaces we design are functional and designed for purpose, but also represent our clients and their brands.
Industrial architecture and food and beverage are areas that I particularly enjoy working on. We work closely with our clients to help them achieve their business goals and create friendly, collaborative working environments. As architects, it's crucial for us to understand our clients’ business and grow with them.
2. What do you do on a typical day in the Industrial Infrastructure team?
The best thing about working at Beca is that there’s no typical day, nor a typical project for us. I enjoy learning about our client’s unique businesses, drawing on the knowledge of my colleagues to achieve great outcomes. It gives me the opportunity to develop a thorough understanding of new areas and apply specialised knowledge with architectural skill to overcome project challenges. I am very proud of the work we do, especially when we exceed our client’s expectations.
3. How is the team making everyday better for our clients?
We like to develop a deep understanding of our clients' business operations and help them to grow for the future. For example, in upgrading facilities to support staff wellbeing, we help our clients understand standard and code requirements, market benchmarks and current trends. In a recent project for a new administration building on a mine site in Queensland, our team worked with the client to design a layout encouraging collaboration, integration and flexibility. We also considered diversity by including a multi-functional room, feeding room and prayer room to enhance the inclusive work environment.
So, it’s our job to understand the future our clients' face, how technology could change their businesses and help keep them ahead of market trends.
4. What have been some of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on during your career?
There have been many memorable projects in my career. One that was quite special for me involved a new emergency department for a hospital in Australia's Northern Territory. My team was responsible for the building design and health planning of a new Emergency Department, which would integrate into the existing hospital. During the design process, it became apparent that although we had relevant technical experience and knowledge, our biggest challenge was understanding the diversity of the patient’s cultural backgrounds. Through careful planning we were able to mitigate differences between patient groups, accommodating various social needs in the design. The real delight was developing a design solution in collaboration with the client that changed the buildings layout achieving an outcome beyond expectations of both the client and the patients.
As designers, it's important to remember we're designing for people - the end users. I am currently working with an international client on the design of a modern flight catering facility serving many of the world’s top airlines. It is fascinating to understand how catering businesses operate within the airline industry. The flow of raw materials coming in, being prepared, cooked and set ready to go - it is exciting to see the full evolution of inflight food delivery.
When working with a passionate client, the enthusiasm and energy spreads throughout the design process and team and can achieve great things.
5. How is technology and innovation having an impact on the sector?
Currently, 3D modelling and virtual reality (VR) is changing the way we communicate with our clients. VR helps our clients visualise the end product during early design stages and is an excellent tool for engagement and assurance. In a way it does take away some element of excitement when the project is finally completed – but in a good way, I guess.
'VR has revolutionised the Safety in Design processes, helping all parties involved including maintenance, operations and contractors to identify early the physical project risks, allowing us to eliminate issues and avoid potential problems'.
Point cloud scanning has revolutionised the way we work on brownfields industrial projects. Now we have a chance to look around the site in detail without having to be on site, a great advantage as our projects are located far and wide! We use this technology extensively for industrial projects, helping us investigate and coordinate design with site conditions and existing services.
6. What would you say are some of the key challenges facing our industrial infrastructure and food and beverage clients?
One key challenge is changing the perception that architecture is an expensive service that drives an expensive outcome. A narrowly defined architectural service often misleads clients to believe that architecture is only relevant for creating an attractive building façade, where the design of a building façade is only a very small part of our skill set. In fact, any project involving building works will require architectural support through master planning, internal layout design, construction detailing, selection of suitable building materials and the successful integration of services and processes.
There is no doubt that industrial and food and beverage projects are functionally driven; it is critical to ensure spatial design is thought through and optimised for people, processes and materials. Industrial buildings and infrastructure are complex, requiring a thorough understanding of technical requirements, along with a strong, specialised design skill to work collaboratively with other consultants and engineers to drive a successful built outcome.
Our clients are mostly expert in their processes but not necessarily in the design of sites, buildings and delivery of successfully integrated facilities. With our skillset we help them see possibilities in achieving fantastic outcomes for their staff, brand and business goals.
7. What are some of the key trends to keep an eye on in the industrial infrastructure and food and beverage industry?
The biggest trends are speed to market, energy consumption, environmental sustainability and waste reduction. The multi-discipline integrated approach at Beca positions us well to help our industrial clients achieve their goals in this area, drawing on diverse skillsets and best for project teams. This, in my view, is our greatest strength and the key advantage differentiating us from our competitors.