#ArchiTalks #42 #DesigningforOthers

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 ‘Designing for Others’ is Jeff Pelletier.

I love it when we get a bit of guidance on a post and Jeff has steered us beautifully to “how we get in the heads of clients who are not like us”. This possibly is the greatest skill of the architect. To fully understand and to get in the heads of our clients. To understand and appreciate their dreams and aspirations. To transfer these dreams and aspirations into a built reality that they can live in and love.

So how is this done?

Well my method is simple and I guess it summarises what the skill of the architect really is. When a client is telling me about what they want, it’s not that I’m not listening – I am. But I don’t get bogged down by how they think the design will work. What frequently happens is that clients go round and round in circles trying to work out the design. The reason for this is simple – they’re not trained to design. Architects are. But what I am listening for is what the goal of what they’re looking for is. What are the key elements of what they want to achieve.

Then my work is straightforward, I then ask myself one simple question:

“If I was my client, what would be the best possible design that I could give myself”

Other architects have different methods:

Renzo Piano for example ’emphasised the importance of listening carefully to the client’s “unspoken words” and establishing an “extremely close relationship with your clients” in order to put your finger precisely on what they need.’ (form What an Architecture Student Should Know”

Phillipe Starck typically went overboard in understanding the culture of his clients by allegedly driving around the city of his latest project on a motorbike (allegedly had a different motor bike in every city he worked in) and then rummaged through the rubbish bins in order that he fully understood how the people actually lived. To paraphrase “it’s only when you see what is thrown away that you can understand how people live”.

Glen Murcutt has this viewpoint (from Glenn Murcutt Buildings + Projects 1962-2003 by Francoise Fromonot):

‘”My clients have to work hard” says Murcutt. In the course of regular meetings they have to specify their habits and way of life, then work out their brief with the architect, even if that means adjusting their initial aspirations, so that everyone agrees on the basic aims of the scheme.’.

Once this is achieved then client and architect effectively ‘have adopted each other’.

Below are the links for how other #ArchiTalks bloggers have interpreted this theme:

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
designing for others – how hard could it be?

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
How To Design for Others

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Designing for Others

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“designing for others”

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Just say no

Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
Planting Seeds of Better Design

Anne Lebo – The Treehouse (@anneaganlebo)
Designing for people

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