INSIGHT

Designing 8 Hours Apart:
DP Architect's Unique One Global Studio Advantage

Design is what DP Architects (DPA) is about. Through purposeful and thoughtful design, we believe our works raise the quality of the everyday in the way people live, work and play. However, the methodology of designing in the current era requires more than a good understanding of the vernacular; we need to tap into and coalesce a multitude of ingredients that can only be sourced from the global arena because of today’s speed and pace of change. In the era of disruptive technology, an ageing population and unpredictable lifestyle mindset shifts (among the Millennials, Gen Z, etc.), the process of design is one that has become by necessity, cross-territorial.
 
Evolving with time and its demands, we have, in recent years, honed our approach towards international expansion. Our 16 offices are connected by a web of communication channels, stretching across a time zone difference of 8 hours. What this means is that when Singapore wakes, London has just gone to bed. This approach, which is both an ethos and a strategy, has culminated in what we now refer to as One Global Studio.
 
To capitalise on presence across geographies, from Shanghai to London, the One Global Studio framework has to meticulously fuse two realms of how we operate: bottom-up design-focused culture and the top-down structural framework.
 
“One Global Studio combines the expertise of all our subsidiaries, typology research groups and country experts to offer localised design solutions based on a common design methodology. It allows us to take advantage of dispersed time zones for greater productivity and efficiency. It optimises resources and coordination within our practice. And allows us to export our design strategies and methodology with the same standards anywhere in the world. This is the promise of the DP Brand.”
 
The concept of One Global Studio is about harnessing the strengths we have as the world’s 8th largest architectural practice (WA100 2018). It can be summarised in four aspects: (1) time zone, (2) resource, (3) knowledge and (4) talent.
 

Thinking round-the-clock
Our One Global Studio is the design office that never sleeps. Discussions between team-mates at different offices operating in different time zones can be a means to fast-track project delivery and also raise service quality.
 
However, DP’s service is completely different from the other customer support industries that adopt ‘follow the sun’ logic. The exchanges and collaborations between teams at different offices are carefully organised to attain best-fit optimisation. For example, the London team completes a conceptual stage of the design work and transmits the package of work to the Shanghai office by evening time in the UK. The team in Shanghai is then able to review and check the work with regards to local technical compliances during the main part of its workday, when it is night-time in the UK. The two teams e-meet over Skype to exchange notes at the close of day in China, when London starts work the following day.

Collective and optimum resourcing
Standing at 1,300 strong, and spread across different continents and cultures, we tap on one another's vast range of skills, experience and knowledge to derive the most holistic design solutions.
 
Each office has core-competencies that deliver projects within its immediate geographical arena. Yet, it also possesses strengths that contribute to the wider group level. As an organisation, the offices are tightly woven with each other and enables optimum resource management. This makes it possible to deliver our promise of best quality and highest value.

Multi-cultural data bank
Situating offices overseas entrenches DP within each unique context and allows us to serve the immediate needs of clients.
 
The multi-arena also allows us to bring new ideas from one territory to another – in itself a process of raising the innovation standards and quality. Our global offices are also connected by a comprehensive support network with full access to a pool of shared resources backed by dedicated teams; each carrying out research in typologies and topics that have major impact on the way we access, perceive and use spaces and environments. The typology research groups lead and spearhead efforts to question, investigate and store knowledge; the entire group benefits through this mode of collective learning.
 

Grooming best international talents
Our business is as good as our talent pool.
 
The One Global Studio framework is also a vehicle to grow and groom our designers. Working on projects with partners from all over the world gives the DP design teams a holistic palette to conceptualise the best solutions. Collaborations across teams are not only a means to an end, the process allows everyone to be constantly learning and sharpening the design acumen. Additionally, the core to our success is fundamentally the way our teams are able to work in an integral and collaborative way despite geographical distances. This is only possible through the systematic and rigorous processes such as joint design brainstorming and reviews.

In conclusion, whilst the One Global Studio framework is underpinned by objectives of efficiency and productivity, it is also to the same degree, spearheaded by the aggressive and bold aim to further raise the standard of excellence in the designs we deliver. Today, when the world’s needs and expectations are no longer constrained by geographical boundaries especially for the design sector, it is important for designers to think and work globally. And to accomplish global reach, DP’s methodology is for all design studios to be One.



Author
Frven Lim
Frven Lim is the director of DP Architects UK. His professional experience includes the prominent Millenium Hotel fronting Grosvenor Square in London and a high-end mixed development along Piccadilly. He is a thought leader in urban cities’ future trends.