Blog: Integration & Collaborative Working SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Corde

23 May 2019

Sponsored by Waterloo Air Products

Corde - submitted by ADP

ADP had been frustrated by old working practices with many unnecessary obstacles to achieving a well-coordinated design. They value the early input of good engineers and are concerned by their late appointment to projects, and the truncated service they are often asked to provide. BIM has been the catalyst for change. ADP has embraced this and exploited the chance to create a new company which joins-up architecture and engineering. They chose structural engineers AKS Ward and services engineers KJ Tait as partners in a jointly-owned new company - Corde.

Corde is named after cord, formed by intertwining a number of separate strands to create something which is stronger and better than the isolated constituent parts. So they created an integrated design service, more powerful than if designers work in isolation. In 2014, the company was formed to prove the concept, developing new protocols for how they would work together. In May 2018, Corde’s first project, Clay Farm Community Centre, completed. This project involved all three companies separately for Work stages 1-3 and then Corde were appointed for Work stages 4-6. Soon after this Corde won a number of school projects. This collaboration allows three companies to share experience, best practice, protocols, infrastructure and work together to deliver a coordinated service.  

In more detail

Corde was created to bring clients the full benefits of an integrated design team operating within a single streamlined Building Information Modelling (BIM) environment. Their use of BIM technology and centralisation of core design team members in their ‘BIM Hubs’ (four of which are within the Constructing Excellence London and South East region) means that Corde deliver a local service to clients nationwide and clients benefit from considerable design and cost efficiencies.

By appointing Corde, contractors and clients have the benefits of three design consultants working together as one company, with the single interest in the successful outcome of the project. “Single contract, single engagement, single point of responsibility, single professional indemnity (PI), single warranty”; together they simplify the contractual arrangements of delivering integrated building projects.

Better integration means better design. Engineers should contribute from the outset: buildings are the product of good engineering and good architecture, there is no delineation between the two, particularly if environmental aspects help to shape the design.

With a shared vision from the start, architects and engineers from ADP, AKS Ward and KJ Tait work together in one location as part of a strategic partnership. Corde brings collective expertise in delivering a broad range of projects in both the public and private sectors, designing buildings in education, healthcare, research and life sciences, public and community, and commercial development.

The greatest change has occurred on the “shop floor”. Instead of operating in traditional “silos” engineers and architects are working together to find better solutions, looking for innovations, promoting excellence and best practice, and creating unified buildings.

The design process is more efficient and more enjoyable by involving and integrating everyone from the outset. Clients can see the benefits of this straightaway. A lot of clients like the clarity of a single appointment, single responsibility with quick set-up. The protocols are all set and in place, the team has worked collaboratively together on past and current projects, and the coordination takes place as the design develops: it's about getting things right first time rather than having to keep taking corrective action.


  • Corde was formed as a proactive response to Paul Morrell’s reports that were critical of the construction industry - to find new ways of collaborative design
  • Client feedback welcomes the approach with evidence that the Corde service meets a need for better collaboration in the design team
  • Completed projects provide evidence that co-ordination of design is improved by a more collaborative approach, maximising the benefits of BIM

For more details:

Visit ADP

The SECBE 2019 Integration & Collaborative Working Award is sponsored by Waterloo Air Products.

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