Support for G30 views on quality & references for cost of architectural services

During the last lunch discussion organised by the G30 on 20th September, Chantal Dassonville, Deputy Director-General in charge of Architecture at the Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles-FWB, has addressed several concerns of the G30.

She explained that she has three axes at the political level when it comes to public procurement: the first one is to give priority to the cultural dimension; the second one is to bring support to local authorities; and the third one is to favour multidisciplinary teams.  While she admits that it is difficult to define architectural quality in her view it is the overall result of a process. 

She considers that her mission lies somewhere between that of a Bouwmeester and that of a warrant of culture whereby when it comes to architectural firms she tends to give priority to small entities.

She declared that in her view when seeking to set a price for architectural services, it is useful, even necessary to have a point of reference.  She stated that in procurement contracts for architectural services launched by her administration she sets a price at the outset, thus avoiding any competition on fees, which she believes is contrary to achieving the goal of quality, and that in order to determine a price for each competition she refers to the scale of fees that was available in the so-called “norme déontologique n°2”.  She is well aware that this is no longer in use, but she believes that it is useful as the only reference of this kind that is available.

CD expressed the opinion that there is not enough coherence in the various competitions launched by the FWB whereby she believes that there is too often confusion at the political level about what is architecture and what is urban design.  For her there are two issues of fundamental importance: schools and public residential lodging.  She mentioned a new Partnership of her administration with the “Fédération wallone du logement” as a good example of quality-driven procurement.

Referring to the recent experience of the launching of a PPP to design a number of schools in Wallonia she stated that it has evolved towards a DBFM and she observes that the new government has changed its approach to address rather smaller clusters.  She admitted that when striving to apply best practices in procurement, in particular in seeking architectural quality and sustainability, her administration is subject to considerable pressure from the part of other authorities, primarily from the financial sector in the government, who tend to consider that there is an obligation of result, not just of means.

Chantal Dassonville firmly believes that for the built environment the traditional approach, the so-called “triangle”: client-conception-construction is preferable to any PPP/DBFM contracts.  Her presentation is available for download (see attached file).

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