Last year we worked as managers of the Vondelpark pavilion in Amsterdam, a 130 year old building and state monument of about 2.500 sqm in the Amsterdam Vondelpark. The challenge was to change the building from an old building into a modern venue for radio, television and internet broadcasting, and a modern restaurant with all its needed facilities. In the building two studios are designed for an audience of about 60 persons each.
One of the challenges was to add all the needed modern technical equipment into the building, all the needed acoustic measures, logistics and safety. Imagine that in the old days installations were hardly incorporated into a design. Water for toilets and the kitchen, a boiler for heating and hot water and electricity was taken into account. That was it.
Nowadays we build with heating and cooling, with mechanical ventilation, with data infrastructure and with wireless stuff. When it comes to broadcasting a huge amount of extra technical equipment is needed and this all needs electricity, cooling and ventilation. We had to incorporate special acoustic measurement into the design.
The fact that the building is a state monument made the design an even bigger challenge. Close collaboration between architect and several technical engineers was needed to finish the building specifications to tender a contractor.
You can imagine that also the real building process came with the same kind of challenges as the design encountered. But design is on paper and building is for real.
One of the most important management methods contractors use to steer a building process is, as you can understand, the schedule. And the schedule of a building project is often enormously detailed. This is needed to be on time every day of the process, and of course to detect anything that disrupts the schedule and take action to be in control again.
The contractor of the Vondelpark pavilion, Jurri?ns used the lean planning method to design his process but also to control it on a daily basis. They did a great job!
This is how it worked.
The schedule was made with all important contractors and subcontractors on site: the carpenters, the masons, steel construction workers, electricians, plasterers, installer of ventilation, painter and so on. All members of the team wrote down their daily work on post-its and discussed the relation and interface of their work. This process took several days and the result was an enormous schedule covering the walls of one of the rooms in the building.
The whole design of the schedule was reviewed by experts and the site manager and later on approved by all workers.
At the start of every working day the team came together to discuss their main daily tasks. This took only a quarter or half an hour and the result was that everyone on site knew what the mutual goals and their work was and if it interfered with that of others.
The result was that:
– There were far less clashes between workers of different disciplines than with normal planning methods where one person makes a schedule and workers have to work accordingly.
– The site manager was confronted with far less questions and problems during the day. It turned out that workers solved their problems together.
– This was due to the mooring sessions where mutual goals were discussed and understanding of each other?s problems and work grew.
Of course we had several problems and setbacks during construction like asbestos, faults in the building specifications, extra wishes of the clients etc. It turned out that the contractor was able to adapt his lean planning to these, sometimes nasty disruptions.
It was the first time I worked with a contractor using lean planning on site and my experience was positive!

  1. I’ve been to the pavilion a few times this summer. It is a really nice place to go for a drink. That said..
    How did the parties of the project looked at the ‘new’ method of planning. Were there any parties who said “Well, post-its? We don’t want that!”

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