#ArchiTalks #45 #HappyAccidents

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. The Topic ‘Leader’ for this post ‘Happy Accidents’ is Jim Mehaffey.

Let’s get this out of the way early!:


The purpose of the architect is to meticulously prepare and design EXACTLY for what is to be built. As the saying goes it’s 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. And getting the details right is about sweating over every last work to ensure that EVERYTHING is meticulosly prepared for. This level of design takes time and effort and you should be paying your architect well to do it.

Let’s have an example…

When you have large runs of blockwork you need an expansion joint so that cracks don’t develop. These Movement Joints are required to be placed vertically along a length of wall and it’s the architect’s job to coordinate between the structural engineer and the contractor that the architect’s intention on where they should be placed is fulfilled.

You can see the placement of such a movement joint in the example below that is nearing completion at the moment:

Example of movement joint placed between two windows and roof light above

Someone has to work out the maximum length of wall and then draw it accurately so that the location is carefully considered. This is no happy accident!

Even when you think something is a happy accident – it generally isn’t:

In the same project we drew the section showing a pitched roof and a minimum headroom one one side of the hall with the roof raising to a higher amount of the other side:

At no point did I draw or say; “Please Mr. Plasterer, can you add in a stop bead to give a separation between the vertical and curved elements?”

The plasterer took it upon himself to add this in (see a construction site photo of the same area below) where this was added:

Now this is an example of a sub-contractor taking the initiative and doing something that was not explicitly drawn but in the end looked good. It’s not an ideal scenario as that detail should have been drawn and detailed as per the construction. But it is what it is and can sometimes be expected in the West of Ireland!. But what it is not – is a Happy Accident!. It was deliberately planned!

You can read how other Architalkers have interpreted this theme in the links below. These will follow after the post has been published due to time differences.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.