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Breaking the Mold to Unleash an Innovative Building Design

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © it's life. | Flickr

Why is it that truly innovative building design is practiced few and far between? Yes, many architects spend their energy building buildings, but few built architecture that uses the design of build environments to uplift lifestyle for their occupants. So, how can you as an architect push your buildings ahead, to break the mold and go beyond the status quo?

Do you find that you are at times stuck in a rut — using the same building materials, building after building, simply because you know they work? While it is by no means a bad thing to use materials that have proven to be successful in your designs, it can be rather limiting if you do not set your sights further ahead, perhaps to some new materials, new design methods or even design thinking that you have not yet explored.

Wouldn’t it be a sort of vicious circle if you wanted to design innovatively, yet did not because you are too afraid to pursue your innovative ideas (affiliate link) for fear that they will not work, cost too much, waste too much time or not be accepted by your clients? Such is the conundrum of innovative architecture — there is indeed risk when you pursue innovation, yet with proper testing, necessary resources and the proper mindset, it does become possible to minimize that risk so you can reap the rewards of not only pursuing innovation design, but also practicing it.

Brainstorming To Break the Mold

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.

Often, giving yourself permission, budget and time to break the mold will often be followed by brainstorming activities whereby you search for unexplored, new and creative applications for your next building projects. However, the quality of your brainstorming can be greatly improved when you do as the above famous expression suggests — take a closer look at the “necessities” that abound within not only present-day architecture, but also human lifestyle. For, it is often in finding a problem, or a “necessity”, that a real innovative building design will surface.

I advise you to also take a look at how people use buildings — not only other architect’s buildings, but specifically your own buildings that have already been built. I had one reader recently write to me saying that he wishes that all architects would have to inhabit their building for one year after it has been built. And I must say that although this seems difficult to do in practice, it makes sense in theory.

I am sure that you will not have to look for too long before you begin to see certain problems that run as common threads through many of our buildings today. With such “problems” you may find yourself beginning to brainstorm, breaking your own mold, and beginning on your own path toward architectural design innovation — resulting in actualized breakthrough solutions.


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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