Targeted Enclosure Consulting

Look Before Leaping: A Case for More Thoughtful Decisions



Photo of Karl Jones

Karl Jones

Technical Director

Mott MacDonald



As building enclosure consulting services evolve and mature in markets, the scopes of service that are provided and sought, can become more standardised. While superficially well intentioned there is a risk of this leading to misalignment of client needs and expectations with outcomes when building projects are completed. New Zealand has a relatively immature construction market, in terms of size and sophistication, and availability of enclosure systems and knowledge. New Zealand’s “leaky building crisis” of the 1990’s to mid-2000’s, and the associated exposure of local government to an arguably disproportionate level of liability, has contributed to a building industry culture where the typical response is decision avoidance and excessive delegation. This culture manifests in an increasingly time inefficient, innovation stifling and dysfunctional approach to the design and construction of the building enclosure.

The principle reason for engaging an enclosure consultant should be to assist in a decision-making process, to elicit insights and guidance to achieve better project outcomes; getting to an appropriate decision faster, resolving a higher performance solution, lower costs. Standardisation of enclosure consulting scopes-of-service risks asking for answers to questions that don’t need to be asked, duplication of deliverables and processes, and clouding of responsibilities. A targeted scope for engagement of a professional enclosure consultant can be achieved by diligently undertaking a collaborative project-specific assessment of what the project and project designers actually need. Enclosure consulting services and associated outputs can be extremely malleable throughout the development of a design solution, and this can help avoid the devolution of a potentially valuable service.

This paper will be of interest to purchasers and providers of enclosure consulting services, it presents three New Zealand case studies where enclosure consulting services were provided but with substantially different scopes of services; Christchurch Library – Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects/ Architectus, 20 Customhouse Quay – Studio Pacific Architecture and the Len Lye Centre – Patterson Architects. Services provided responded dynamically to the project needs and knowledge gaps that were revealed through assessment of; incumbent skills and capabilities, risk profile, procurement options prevailing in the market. The delivered scopes included various combinations of; certified prescriptive design, detailed reference design and performance specification, design review for compliance efficiency, high level strategic guidance, targeted material/system selection studies, and performance simulations.


The process of designing parts of a building before physically constructing is an established technique to help predict and control outcomes. The enclosure/façade/envelope of a building has a lot to

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Background - NZ Building Industry

The NZ building industry in recent history has experienced significant turmoil because of many factors. The current building code in terms of general philosophy and approach was introduced in the

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Background - Enclosure Consulting in New Zealand

The introduction of the provision of enclosure consulting services to the New Zealand market by consultants on the design side was initiated on large projects in the late 1990’s. The

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Targeted Scope - Philosophy

Enclosure consulting is typically a complimentary discipline to traditional roles and responsibilities, for example the; architect, structural engineer, and compliance reviewer. Societies for enclosure professionals do not have a long

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Case Study 1 - Christchurch Central Library

The new central library is an important civic project in Christchurch initiated following the disastrous earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Architects from New Zealand firm Architectus and Danish firm Schmidt

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Case Study 2- 20 Custom House Quay

This building is a 14-story commercial office by Studio Pacific Architecture located in the Wellington CBD adjacent to the harbor (Fig. 3). It has a diagrid structure that is reflected

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Case Study 3- Len Lye Centre

The Len Lye Centre façade is a strikingly audacious piece of architecture (Fig. 4). This gallery is in New Plymouth in the Taranaki region of New Zealand, a small regional

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Conclusion and Future Work

A targeted approach to resolving scopes of engagement of enclosure consultants to assist in the resolution of enclosure design (or review of design) for buildings, is an approach that has

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Many thanks to the case study project teams; Architectus, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Christchurch City Council, Metal Concepts, Studio Pacific Architecture, Newcrest, Thermosash, Patterson Associates, New Plymouth District Council, Rivet Engineering. And to colleagues John Hawkins, Jon Robinson and Robin Schmid.

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