Lucy Timmer

The new RIBA Plan of Work

by 17th Jan, 2014

Late last year I spent two days at the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Guerilla Tactics conference. It’s an annual conference specifically designed for architects from smaller practices such as Communion.

It was an inspirational couple of days. It was a great opportunity to look at new ways of thinking and working and reflect on our practices.

The biggest topic at this year’s conference was RIBA’s new Plan of Work.

The first RIBA Plan of Work was developed in 1963 and it is the definitive UK model for the building design and construction process. It’s undergone several refinements since 1963, but this latest change was dramatic.

In the past, the Plan of Work has always seen the process as a linear one with a clearly defined start and end. You start with a blank sheet of paper and finish with a building.

RIBA Plan of Work 2013As with previous Plans, the new Plan of Work sees the process as a series of stages, each with clear boundaries:

Stage 0 Strategic Definition
Stage 1 Preparation and Brief
Stage 2 Concept Design
Stage 3 Developed Design
Stage 4 Technical Design
Stage 5 Construction
Stage 6 Handover and Close Out
Stage 7 In Use

The crucial difference with this new Plan of Work is that it is circular. It recognises that at the end of each previous project we have gathered a wealth of knowledge and information that we can use to inform future projects. Every architect uses previous experience to help him each time he works on a new project; it’s how we develop as architects. But by incorporating the concept into the Plan, it’s something that can happen consciously rather than unconsciously and be celebrated as something that adds value.

It’s an approach that’s more holistic than ever before and views projects as part of a bigger picture rather than isolated and stand-alone pieces of work. It’s also more client-centred and evidence-based, something which can only help us to improve our practice. I’m very excited about using it in our practice!

You can find out more about the RIBA Plan of work at

You can also see how it informs our process.