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How to Use a Cliché to Make Your Building Design Work

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

One way to Juxtapose A Door or Corridor cliché / ImageCredit: © Andy Miah | Flickr

I recently read an article by Seth Godin who describes a very powerful writing technique where an author takes a popular and widely used cliché, points it out in his or her work and then writes about its exact opposite. When done cleverly this can produce a very powerful result whether an author is trying to stir humor, thought, emotion or even trying to change a reader’s belief or behavior.

As architects, we should take a cue from this author’s “gem”.

For example, 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?

If done well, your solution would make for a remarkable occupant experience. Such a juxtaposition would surely redefine what you and your occupant think a “doorway” can do. Also, you would remove those overused clichés that pollute and weaken your designs as they emerge as unnecessary.

Make your occupants re-experience what they take for granted by asking yourself what it is you take for granted. Give both you and your occupant a fresh lens.

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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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