As an architectural designer, how you think about light can make all the difference in your design’s success. For example, do you work with architectural light as more of a scientist or an artist? This distinction can help you become better at doing both. And when you design environmental light as both a scientist and an artist, your designs will be more fully enjoyed by occupants as they experience the poetics of your built vision.
Have you ever formulated a solution for a design problem, and then discovered that your solution created other new problems? Finding a design solution is not enough – one must also determine how to hone and refine this solution to avoid any side-effects it may bring.
As you design your architectural concepts, be sure to think more than about how your building occupants would react. Take your design vision further. When formulating your concept, think of how your building can help your occupant to become smarter – not just intellectually, but emotionally as well.
The key to achieving your best design solution is to make the best design decisions possible at each step in your design process journey. The following are three critical ways for you to unlock your design’s truest and best potential so it has maximum positive benefit for those by whom it will be experienced.
When it comes to making great architecture, there are two critical elements: creative vision and multi-sensory design. As an architect, the more you work to improve each element, the greater the gains you will find within your resulting design outcome. But what is that outcome all about? Is it simply about landing the next big client? Or creating environments occupants love? What is behind these fantastic results? And what sort of long-term impact is your designed environment making?
As an architect, it is important for you to ask yourself if the way your design gets constructed and used is the way you originally envisioned when starting the design process. Of course, as a designer it may be impossible to foresee every single possible use that your design has as different people engage with it every day. Nevertheless, as you are forming your vision, it will help you to try.
A key to finding a design convergence point that solves for many of the challenges your project faces is to place your building occupants at the center, through multi-sensory design. From here, it becomes possible to innovate architectural experience while also overcoming the difficult project challenges that exist.
As architects, often there is a gap between the vision for a building design and the existence of materials available with which it can be built. Yet, the gap between creative vision and creative tools is also just as important --- but in a different way.
As you design, be sure to create authentic architectural environments that are true to their surrounding context, people, and culture. In other words, you can build upon the past while still relating to it and supporting it. Again, find the “uniqueness” of place, people, and culture --- and innovate to relate, support, and uplift.
Does your architectural design’s effectiveness deteriorate over time? Or does it improve? In other words, does your design solution stand the test of time by remaining meaningful and purposeful for occupants? Or is your solution short-lived – only solving for a short-term need, but not solving for longer-term goals?
It is important to pull optimally from latest findings in other fields in order to position your architectural design concepts innovatively. You see, architecture benefits from findings in fields like neuroscience, nanotechnology, biomimicry, and beyond.
House design can do more than simply be a passive player in its occupant’s life. Yes, homes can do more. They can serve to proactively foster, support, and propel growth in their occupants.
Have you ever spent time and energy creating architectural design solutions for problems that did not really matter? Or have you ever experienced a design that presented a solution to a problem that was not that important?
Today’s article is all about how you can do a better job at predicting occupant need to improve your design — in other words, finding ways to engage your building occupant with what matters to them, when and how they need it most.
Famous architecture can be instantly recognized from anywhere in the world. You can see a photograph of a famous building, and get an instant sense of its larger context like its location’s culture, architect’s style, and timely era. In other words, famous architecture can become iconic.
Architecture details come together to yield more than the sum of their parts. Individually, a detail can be observed through sight, touch, or even sound — and it is the architecture detail that can leave a lasting impression on a building occupant.
Your creative vision is what will guide design decisions throughout the design and review process so your building concept doesn’t get chiseled away as the project goes on.
Urban space that is “left behind” often becomes unused, simply existing as wasted space — in other words, a missed opportunity.
The experience of architecture often involves separating the exterior from the interior. Occasionally, the two meet through windows, doors, or other building fenestrations. Such a separation is not always a bad thing — since much can be accomplished through a design which separates the exterior from the interior.
The first thing I think of when I think of an architecture brand is “experience” — that is, when sensory design elements come together to yield a place’s personality. And this “personality” can go a long way toward helping a place to achieve its goal.
Different needs surface that often require for a flexible design. Just think of how a home might need to grow or shrink (as the family does), or how a business may grow and change (as will its office building). Also, even within a school classroom, functions change multiple times a day.
Patterns in design are important when it comes to architecture. In fact, they can help an architecture to meet many needs at once because patterns speak multiple “languages”.
Once your building design is fully functional, you may begin to wonder if it has a “lifespan”. That is, will your building one day become outdated? Will it cease to help its occupants the way it once did when it was first built? Or will it no longer be perceived as beautiful in the eyes of those that experience it?
When designing your architectural works, do you give thought to how your occupant will navigate through the spaces that you provide? With this, I mean giving consideration to your project beyond programming and wayfinding — what I’m eluding to here is getting you to reach into the poetics of occupant movement through your building.
Buildings operate best when their pieces and parts work together as a system — and this includes occupants as being a part of that system as well. You see, in buildings like schools, hospitals and office buildings, occupants must often work together as a team to reach a desired outcome.
What do you do when your architectural design tool won’t allow you to test your design for the senses? How do you know that you are creating the best design for your future building occupants? What architecture techniques will you use?
Building skin has the power to hide and protect while also serving to display and reveal. And in particular, building skin that is transient takes on the ability to do all of these things. For example, the Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen maintains a skin that uses screens which change their display dependent upon time of day and seasons.
The experience of mobile architecture can be quite a powerful thing. Take for instance the BMW Guggenheim Laboratory that was constructed in New York — there, on a rather small lot, this lab was assembled to serve as think-tank and community center. And the beauty of this is that such architecture does a lot to uplift an area.
Why are so many buildings today designed at the status quo, where they are there to meet the bare essentials? Perhaps it is because many architects today do not think in terms of holistic design thinking.
Did you know that there is memory bias? That is, memory can be changed, boosted, or impaired. So, if this is the case: What makes building occupants form stronger architectural memories than others?
When designing a professional office design that needs to help its occupants carry out certain tasks — wouldn’t it be beneficial to design it in such a way that it promotes the very creativity, productivity, and efficiency that its very occupants are trying to achieve with their work?
I invite you to consider building comfort as you design — where through a deeper lens you are able to understand how your architectural elements tie together to yield a design that meets those occupant needs that they themselves did not know they needed.
Building structure, at face value, is about the framework that holds up the building. But what does a commercial steel building structure reveal about the building perceptually? Does the rhythm of its components add to the excitement of experiencing an architectural work?
Have you ever thought about how crowd mentality factors into architectural design? Well, as you can see in the photo of the Spanish Steps, there is a prime example of crowd mentality, showing what happens when a simple factor like sunlight enters the picture.
Simple design does not mean that it is simplistic, but rather that it has stripped away the extraneous and unnecessary that would only confuse or belittle the power of the true underlying design core. This is often a strength of minimal architecture.
Look at what is permanent and semi-permanent, and at that which is intangible – like the surrounding culture. These issues can inform your architectural site analysis too.
I think that in order to create good library architecture, to preserve the importance of library for the future, it will be essential to tackle three elements very well — they are communication, interaction and inspiration.
There are times where you, as an architect, can learn a lot about what your occupants will need. But during those times, it is important to question the validity of your information — does what you are learning about occupant behavior follow suit with what you have always believed? Or is there something new that you are noticing that contradicts what you’ve always thought about the way occupants behave?
At times, efficiency can really help the business of architecture. But at other times, efficiency can be its greatest enemy. And this is why the notion of “play” (and knowing when to do it) is key.
So much of architecture is a touch-based and tactile experience. Just think of how many times your occupants “touch” something (architectural details) while experiencing your building design.
As the World Wide Web and social media encourage more and more digital and virtual social interactions, will the role of the architectural building system have a new place in contributing to or detracting from the way we humans interact with each other? With so so many people now using social media, I think the answer is yes.
Now that science is advancing in a way that impacts building innovation from an architecture material standpoint, you as an architect should look to bridge the gap between selecting materials and designing materials to be used in your building designs.
A famous expression says that “necessity is the mother of invention”. So if you find yourself working repetitively, in a way that hinders you from evolving to be the type of architect you know you can be, there is a time and a way for you to break the mold.
The fate of a building seems to lead toward its evolution as a ruin. Maintenance is economically costly, yet its demolition can bear an emotional or intellectual toll in a people and/or place. So, what I ask is how can we either physically or virtually preserve a building that is lost to the perils of time?
In an underground building, what if the boundary to celebrate is as much the vertical one as it is the horizontal one? You may celebrate its “below-ness” by making connection with what is above your site’s grade in a not-so-typical way.
I often use the term “lifestyle design” when thinking about the design of architecture. By this, I mean that architecture holds within it a great power to uplift the way humans live their daily lives — and it is “lifestyle” which is directly connected to human health, happiness and spirit.
There is so much missed opportunity when it comes to the module. Instead of always trying to have modules “lock” into one another, try to provide each module with a proverbial “key” to unlock its neighboring modules in certain ways.
The way many architects spec doors and corridors in a building design is one type of architectural cliché you’re probably used to seeing. You know — the type of door with “typical” dimensions, hardware, materials and so on. But what would happen if you pointed this type of cliché out in your design and then immediately juxtaposed it with its complete opposite? What would you create?
Let’s exaggerate for a moment and see if we can make what is flexible, even more flexible. The goal is to get you to push some design boundaries and of course, to use the idea of “flexible design” to get your architecture to that “cutting-edge”.
As new emerging technologies surface, the idea of “transition” will take on entirely new form. Not only will “transition” continue to exist between building materials (like you see in buildings today), but “transition” will also be present within a material’s properties — changing the very nature of how a particular material behaves at any given time.
What role does music play in your work as an architect? Do you listen to it while you design? Or do you incorporate it into your architectural designs, for your occupants?
How do you design for the function of waiting? Do your building occupants ever really wait? Typically, they move from one activity to another, but it is equally important to also design for those in-between moments. What happens during those “between” moments can really impact an occupant’s experience; thus, as a designer, you can make what goes on inside a waiting room a great experience.
In essence, you are creating a shopping experience for your occupant, and this can apply to more that just retail type architecture. Just as shoppers walk quickly, take their time, stop to browse or stop to rest…your architecture needs to provide good opportunities for your occupants to speed up or slow down.
Yes, design balance is more that just a visual experience. So, to take this a step further lets explore what it would be like to achieve great architectural balance to best accommodate the visually impaired occupant.
Similar to architecture, theater set design must work to create an experience with space, and often such theatrical experiences tap into so much more that just the visual sense.
Early on in my architectural education, Paul Klee inspired me when he wrote that “movement underlies the growth and decay of all things.” I think this quote is so true on so many levels — at whatever level of architectural expertise.
How do you design the peak of your building? That moment when your building meets the sky? When it reaches the sky, what perspective do passer-bys experience? Are they awed? Do they look again? Or are they just upset because they strained their neck for nothing?
Buildings change through time. Not only do their materials weather, but their intended purpose can become altered by a changing society’s or culture’s needs. So, how do you design a building that is both timely and timeless?
The design challenge of a concert hall is at first glance contradictory — to foster closeness and, yet, to surround listeners with the life and essence of a music’s sound.
Did you know that school design has not substantially changed over the past 200 years? (1) Well, school architecture is undergoing some significant changes now, and computers are a big reason why.
Workers want to work in healthy, stress-free environments that promote everything from spaces for focus to spaces for social interaction. Work environments need to meet a multitude of needs at once, and that is why workplace “by design” is so important.
I came upon an interesting post that got me thinking about the future of hotel design — and hospital architecture…
Buildings are all over the place, but not all buildings are architecture. In the above quote, Philip Johnson talks about the point where a building becomes great architecture, taking an occupant to another level where a space actually “touches” a person.
Over the years, workplace design has evolved to become more and more flexible. Today, we see the workplace not only as a space in which to execute given tasks, but also as a place in which to interact, communicate and foster creativity.
Texture has long been used by architects to breathe life into buildings as well as to create a unique experience for occupant’s senses. The question becomes — how do you use it in your architectural design?
Yes, architecture must take into account all of the senses – but can theories, like the Gestalt Principles, highlight why design works the way it does?
Architecture’s scientific revolution should strengthen the architectural industry by contributing needed dimensions of knowledge about how and why systems work the way they do. Into the future, architecture will not refer to science because it can, but because it should.
A design science marriage will be key as both scientists and designers strive to push their respective fields forward. Each can provide insight to the other as designers can help scientists think “outside of the box” while scientists bring newfound technologies and theories to the design disciplines – including the architecture process.
Architectural design for learning means that an architect has provided space for a quality educational experience – and it is interesting to understand where lighting fits into the big picture.
Hospital design directly impacts patient health – in more ways than one might think. Today hospital designers are trying to evolve hospitals beyond their infamously sterile décor.
Since so many hours are devoted to office work, office design should place emphasis on what makes for a healthy workday. Here is my list of 10 simple steps toward design that lessens technology’s negative effects.
It is wise not to take your design tools for granted, and to analyze how much they are helping you so you can make necessary adjustments to improve your design process. The following is a question to ask of your most-used design tool(s)…
When designing, do you strive to design projects that look like other projects already built? Or do you strive to create a unique and original contribution to the discipline of architecture? If you concentrate on the latter, then you are a step ahead toward finding and leveraging your own uniqueness as an architect – and this uniqueness can give you a significant competitive advantage to help set you apart from your competition.
There are a lot of architectural design firms out there, and everyone thinks their designs are unique. But clients are not just buying “good-looking” and unique designs that are functional; they care about building designs that bring value to their bottom line — helping their building occupants thrive.