We ask our Architect Dean to share his on site experience

Architect Dean Bartlett shares his views on why on site experience is so important

  • Very briefly, what is the architect’s role on site?

The role of the architect is synonymous with building design. During construction; costs, time constraints, and contractual pressures can occupy client and contractor attention.

The Architect retains an essential role during construction, remaining focused on delivering the projects original design intent through co-ordination, communication, and collaboration.

Site work frequently involves liaising with different teams, ensuring they are working from up to date drawings, monitoring accuracy, and progress.


  • Does The Manser Practice encourage its young architects to go on site, and if so, why is it important?

From the outset as a fresh-faced Part One Assistant I was encouraged to attend site meetings and inspections. This experience was vital in enabling me to understand how the information I produced was to be used.


  • Describe your impressions when you visited your first project on site with The Manser Practice?

The first site I visited with The Manser Practice was the refurbishment of grade II listed Ashgate House in Chesterfield. The site formed part of Ashgate Hospice’s Estate and the project included patient areas, office space, and new dining facilities. The building dated back to 1750 and was in poor condition both structurally and cosmetically.

Walking around site for the first time I was excited when imagining how our design proposals would significantly improve the tired and damp building. When construction started the site became busy with activity, teams of contractors worked around one another to fulfil their own set tasks; collectively working towards achieving the overall project ambition.




  • What was the main thing you learnt from that first site visit?

For the project’s design intent to be fulfilled, a practical and detailed set of instructions are required. Understanding how these were used on site helped me to refine how the information should be presented.


  • What is the strangest/or funniest/ thing that has happened while you were on site?

Walking past a skip on site I noticed several doors had been thrown away that the Heritage Consultant had told us needed to be retained. I politely explained this to the contractor, who then set his apprentice (who had just finished putting the doors in the skip) the task of taking them out again.


  • What 20th century project would you most like to have visited while it was on site, and why?

The Neues Museum, Berlin by David Chipperfield Architects. The project started in 1993 so I’m including it as a 20th Century project on a technicality; even though it reopened in 2009. I have chosen this project because of the powerful and sensitive way the building was painstakingly restored. The building’s history made it a project of international significance. I would’ve liked to watch how each decision, big and small, were debated before a suitable solution was agreed. Also, the level of craftsmanship is of the highest quality and it would’ve been fascinating to watch this work in progress.