Creating buildings, spaces and environments often involves different kinds of design and drawings.
Is this Architecture ? (below)
Or is this architecture ? (image below)
I'll use a situation that occurred to me recently to illustrate. A few weeks ago (mid-February) the temperatures dropped to a very cold -25°C (-13°F) here in Ottawa.
Just a week before the cold snap my family had taken possession of our new house. On the day following the second night of cold temperatures, we went to the house only to find that a pipe had froze! Thankfully it had not burst. This meant no mess and limited damage. However it also meant no idea where in the web of water pipes it was actually frozen.
The house is 70+ years old but new to us so we had no knowledge of the mechanical infrastructure and little idea where the supply pipe might be at risk. After a fairly lengthy investigation and quite a number of holes in the drywall we uncovered the section of pipe that froze, very near to the service feed into the house.
It turned out that the plumber had installed pipes directly against the exterior basement wall, above grade where it would experience the greatest cold. Seemingly without thought that it would be at risk of freezing.
Thankfully not that difficult to fix. It required rerouting approximately 8 feet of the pipe and reinstalling / repairing the drywall. This solves the problem and will allow us or any future occupants to sleep easy forevermore.
The curious aspect of this is why? This is a rookie error and surprising in a country with 100 years of history of installing indoor plumbing in homes. And yet......frozen pipes in my house and all over Ottawa and other municipalities within the cold zone show that this is a surprisingly common occurance.
The installation in our house could not be attributed to a contractor cutting corners as installing the pipes away from the perimeter danger area would not have costed more labour or material.
Below is a sketch of the existing install plus another indicating the preferred or best practice install.
So back to my original question. Are these small but important things architecture and the responsibility of your designer? Or is architecture the 'big' idea or concept behind the look or major theme of the building?
My thought is ........Yes to both.
Your architect or designer should be both the instigator and provider of compelling insights and solutions to the overall big picture and themes behind your space or building. Plus, he/she should be the technician that prevents this sort of frozen pipes error. In short......both artist and geek.
The Building Code is a great assistance but it doesn't cover this simple example and many other construction details. It's not possible to eliminate all "D'oh" types of mistakes within the Building Code.
The training, knowledge, and experience of your designer, and the rest of the professionals on your project, is what you should depend on to prevent operational surprises.