We are of course all familiar with Early Contractor Involvement in all its acronymic forms, but is it as good as it could be?
Mostly thanks to my colleague and expert on everything, Daniel Moylan, I have been traveling the autobahns and byways of southern Germany, immersed in the baroque of Balthasar Neumann and his colleagues.
Apart from my sojourn to the stations of Moscow you might think this departure into the absurdly frivolous is not my core interest, it having little apparent place in the minimum maintenance focused design principles that permeate the transport industry. Of course, that’s no reason not to admire the quality of the concepts and craftsmanship with their geometric and structural acrobatics that underlies baroque theatricality. The journey, through Munich, Zwiefalten and Bruchsal, offers surprises and inspires admiration at every turn and is highly recommended.
I came to discuss my trip with Evelien van Veen, and she in turn told of the great English landscapes journey she had recently taken through the north of England.
As we spoke we noted the similarity of these bouts of creativity, of how Balthasar and Capability were near-contemporaries, and how they had both achieved so much in the comparatively short periods of their professional lives. And not just ‘so much’ in terms of quantity, but in the achievement of wholly fundamental changes in our natural and spiritual appreciation and expression. The little time they must have had for each great project, when compared to the time required to crystallise such original thought, must have meant that somehow they had imbued in those that constructed these projects not only their design aspirations, but also an understanding of an essentially different world view. It makes our present attempts at process-driven one-team ECI appear superficial in the extreme.
Of course without the benefits of privilege and residual feudalism, this level of project communication, with its depth of understanding and collective passion, now takes a willingness on all sides to engage and be at one with the concepts and creativity of all participants in the show. However innovative ECI still purports to be, this is still something I have so far struggled to see and would very much wish to experience.