#Architalks #StartingADesign #HowItAllBegins

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 ‘Starting a Design’ is Jon Brown:

So. How an architect starts a design. This must be one of my favourite topics and as an architect who loves ‘process’, I’ve already written something about the process HERE

The good thing however about the #ArchiTalks blog posts is that even if the subject is covered already – we can go into a bit more detail…

Therefore, this post will delve deeper and will give away a few of the secrets I use in how I design. But why would I give away my trade secrets?:

• It’s good to share; I still have years and years of training and experience behind me. Even if you can use my ‘secrets’ – I can do them faster. Remember ‘Why go round and round when I have all the tools!’ (links to post)

• It shows clients that I have a process. I am professional and everything (including the design process) follows a Quality Management system

So how does it begin?:

1. Everything starts with the brief.

Following extensive meetings and discussion we collate the information on what the client is looking for in terms of accommodation and ‘look and feel’. This brief is written and exchanged. Updated and amended where necessary. Frequently a brief can change as the project progresses when the client understands better what they are looking for.

I have one mantra I say to clients in this respect:

“There’s no need for you to figure out how the spaces relate – that’s what I can do. Let the architect do the designing.”

I was lucky enough to be taught by John Craig at Aldington, Craig & Collinge where one persons job (I forget who it was) was to prepare the brief for the designers. That’s all they did. They did no design but that was how important the role of the brief was considered.

2. The site is considered

I need to understand the site completely:

• The topography
• The orientation
• Sun direction
• Prevalent wind conditions
• Natural shelter
• Other buildings

3. I then sit down and sketch.

I can do this directly on the computer but I still prefer doing this in good old-fashioned layout paper & pencil. Below is an example of the first sketch:

I am thinking about the brief, the site, what the planners are looking for; And most importantly: I place myself in the clients’ shoes and if this was my site – what would be the best possible solution for the given criteria.

This first design tends to be in plan only. We need to get this right before moving forward in section and elevation.

4. The design is tweaked and massaged

I always say to clients that the first stab at the design is just that – the starting point for discussion. The design has to start somewhere and clients when presented with something are required to give thought over the parts they like and the parts they don’t like about the design.

As we move the plan forwards I am thinking and presenting ideas in both plan, section and elevation; I tend then to work in foamboard & in 3D on the computer – our work in this stage is based on a full 3D model; so clients can walk around the model in 3D and see textures and finishes – we even use 3D virtual reality glasses to present our schemes which you can read about HERE:

Below is an example of our 3D models which are animated that are used also:

So that’s about it. How a design is started and continued. I like to think of it a bit like finding a diamond; initially it’s rough and crude and then becomes polished over time as it’s cut and finished.

Below are posts from the other ArchiTalks architects on how they have interpreted this theme:

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Slow Down. Hold Still.

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Starting a Design: #Architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
On Your Mark, Get Set — Start a Design!

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #35: Starting a Design

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Where do you start when designing a new home?

More to follow when they come online…

3 thoughts on “#Architalks #StartingADesign #HowItAllBegins

  1. Mark, I’m delighted to see that you still start by sketching! The computer does precisely what we tell it to, but when sketching, you don’t quite know when you start drawing a line precisely where the end of the line might be… it’s the point where it feels right. This cannot happen if you have to specify the endpoint before the line can be drawn, and you’ll never know whether it felt as right as it could have felt.

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