ARCHITECTURE

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS IN NIGERIA

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYMENT IN ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS IN NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

During the last two decades or so, there have been significant improvements in ICT. These developments took two main directions (Zorkoczy & Heap, 1995): the first one, in the development of products (devices, systems) and concepts (ideas, procedures) which have a wide relevance to information; the second, in the development of the application of these products and concepts to specific areas of activities. Computers have revolutionised the way documents are generated and stored. Similarly, ICT is bound to revolutionise the way the information and documents are exchanged. Today, ICT is an essential ingredient in research, technology, education and other societal endeavours. It includes the automated capturing of data and processing of information; large-scale networking; high-end computing; high-end computation and infrastructure; high-confidence software and systems; human-computer interaction and information management; as well as theoretical studies of the nature of information and the limits of computation. Advances in supercomputers, simulations and networks are creating a new window into the natural world, making high-end computational experimentation an essential tool for pathbreaking scientific discoveries. ICT is becoming a powerful force in the world. In this millennium, a radically different world will be seen, where information, and access to it, will be one of the most important economic and social indicators (Johnston, 2015). Due to its enormous and profound socioeconomic benefits, ICT has, seemingly in a few short years, become critical to a nation’s well-being and prosperity. ICT is also changing the way people live, work, learn and communicate with each other.

Competitive pressures force ICT adoption by many businesses and industries. As a result, industries have experienced significant productivity improvements as ICT has provided them with great advantages in speed of operation, consistency of data generation, accessibility and exchange of information. Construction is a traditional industry and conservative to adopt new technology unless the contribution of this technology is obvious (Li & Wang 2013), forced by clients or by regulations. The Architectural Engineering and Construction industry (AEC) has embraced ICT in order to benefit from these developments to gain or maintain a competitive advantage. Introduction of ICT in all aspects of the design and construction of facilities has been going for a few decades now.

The architect is defined in the British Standard Institution Glossary (2013) as the person who designs buildings and super intends the execution of building works. This reflects a simplistic view of the role of the architect. However, the role expands to involve not only technical activities but other areas of competency including organizational politics, business strategy, consulting and leadership, and technology. The architects have been chosen in particular as they play a key role in the design process and have a wide responsibility of the design and building. The architects have traditionally specialized on several domain areas of knowledge. Such areas have been urban planning, project planning, office planning, public buildings, housing and during the recent years also information technology related issues, such as integrated design data management, 3Dvisualization and building information modeling (Penttila, 2016).

Architecture is concerned with the designing of buildings and spaces. It is one of the professions that are very well founded in the construction industry in the UK as an example, since the early 19th century (Huru, 2012). Architecture has been described as the ‘mother profession’ and is best known in the family of design professions, it is worth of studying as it is probably the oldest established design profession and performs as a model for design in other professions (Schön, 2013). The architect was traditionally the master builder and the presence of architects, as has been documented, goes back to the third millennium before Christ; graphic conventions of architectural practice appeared even earlier (Kostof, 2017). The architect was in charge of the project from the early days of conception to the very last day of execution and was accountable in case of failure. The role of the architect turned out to be directed on the general concept of structures and managing the relationship between the client and contractor, who builds the building (Lewis, 2014). Furthermore, the boundaries of architecture are constantly shifting and there are many variations among architectural practices (Schön, 2013).

The architectural and designing working methods have changed drastically during the last few decades caused by CAD, design integration, project document management, collaborative team-work through the web and email (Kalay 2014). Design communication is currently considered to be an inevitable skill sector of a modern architect. The changes within the architectural profession and even more so in the construction process have recently been particularly economical. According to Penttila (2016), design guidelines, formal contracts and assignments with the clients are currently rather demanding in contemporary practice. The changes in architectural profession have concerned very profoundly the tools which architects use and also the working methods. CAD-systems have become the main tool for the architects during the 1990’s and working without CAD is hardly possible any more. Product data modelling or Building Information Modelling (BIM) has also been developed to be an integrated future framework for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) field information management.

The architectural profession revolves round building design, project management, construction and consultancy. In order to manage a construction project properly, accurate and up-to-date information is required at all times so that no delays and failures can be encountered. Hence, all project participants must be up to speed with the changes that are happening within the project (Aigbavboa et al, 2013). According to Lang et al., (2015) traditional boundaries between different professions have been crossed as new needs and technologies emerged. In addition, professional identities and established work procedures are being challenged as a result of introducing innovative information and communication technologies (Eriksson-Zetterquist et al., 2015).

Communication is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of ideas, feelings, intentions, attitudes, expectations, perceptions or commands. Communication in architectural practice helps the architect to better understand the client and other professionals in the building industry as well as to build trust; respect and create environments where creative ideas, problem solving, affection and caring can flourish. The professional service of the architects requires effective communication from the inception (brief) to the completion (handing over) of the structure. Also, there is need for effective communication between the client and the architect throughout the construction process. For communication to be effective, it requires a sender, a medium and a recipient.  Due to the hierarchal and fragmented nature of construction works, a close coordination among a large number of specialized but interdependent organizations and individuals to achieve the cost, time and quality of goals of a construction project is required (Toole, 2013).

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

In Nigeria, majority of construction information exchange are still based on traditional means of communication such as face-to-face meetings (site meetings) and the exchange of paper documents (Working Drawings, Architect’s certificate, Architect’s instruction, Specifications etc.) This slow pace of adapting to change is one of the reasons while the architectural industry has for many years suffered from the difficult-to-access, out-of-date and incomplete information (Shoesmith, 2015). 

The evaluation of the impact of ICT deployment in architectural firms is a research area that has received limited attention in the construction literature in general and in the architectural literature in particular. Most of the research on the impact of ICT has focused on the evaluation of ICT from a cost-benefit perspective using several methods and techniques proposed specifically to evaluate the return of the investment on ICT. Thus, the ultimate objective of this research project is to assess the impact of ICT deployment in architectural firms as well as on architectural design process and architectural practices in Nigeria.

1.3  OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The study sought to know the impact of ICT deployment in architectural firms in Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to;

1.  examine the relationship between ICT and architectural firms in Nigeria.

2.  Identify the different ICT tools used in architectural firms in Nigeria.

3.  Identify the availability and proficiency levels of the CAD/BIM personnel in the use of available design technologies in architectural firms.

1.4  RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.  What is the relationship between ICT and architectural firms in Nigeria?

2.  What are the different ICT tools used in architectural firms in Nigeria?

3.  How are the availability and proficiency levels of the CAD/BIM personnel in the use of available design technologies in architectural firms?

1.5  RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

Ho1: There is no relationship between ICT and architectural firms in Nigeria.

Ho2:The availability and proficiency levels of the CAD/BIM personnel in the use of available design technologies is low in architectural firms in Nigeria.

1.6  SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.

1.7  SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study is on ICT deployment in architectural firms in Nigeria. The study will also focus on the effect of ICT on architectural design process and architectural practices in Nigeria. The study will be carried out in selected architectural firms in Nigeria.

Limitations of study

It is a phenomenon that in any research where the primary objective is to research for the true fact, a research project of this nature is never conducted without some inherent factors that may make the findings difficult. The limitations may however include:

Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Lack of cooperation from respondents: Lack of cooperation from respondents is another factor owing to the fact that some of the personnels of the firms have little time to give me attention while others pay no attention at all.

Time factor: This is a limitation because the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8  Definition of Terms

Information and communications technology (ICT): Information and communications technology is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals) and computers, as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audiovisual systems, that enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.

Architecture: Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other structures.

Firm:  A firm is a business organization such as a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or partnership that sells goods or services to make a profit.