So today I’ll be getting a bit more direct with this thing called Design Process – which is basically the process of designing. Doh.
As an architecture student, you’re going to be doing a lot of designing every semester. So you have to be familiar with what it typically entails, so you can reflect on how to make your methods better.
I plan to eventually get more in-depth with each of the little nuances that comprise each step, so I thought a little primer would be a good starting point for today.
Imagine a pretty looking building without power, indoor plumbing, lighting, air-conditioning, and sound systems. Would you live in it?
Not so pleasant, right? In today’s contemporary world, we practically run on technology and convenience. Remove all that and it’ll literally be like a 21st century Dark Age. Technological advancement has become the cornerstone of human development, and the way we integrate all sorts of gizmos to our built environment is a clear indication of that.
Which is why you’ll be studying all kinds of building systems in architecture school.
It’s a sad truth, but many societies tend to belittle the design profession.
This is normally due to a lack of information on what exactly the design process entails – on the outset, most lay people still think that “designing” merely means making something pretty. But as discussed in a previous post “What Does Designing Mean Anyway?“, we know that this is far from true.
So then, how difficult is the thinking process when you’re designing? Is it just a matter of doing a few sketches, considering a few laws, and then voila – the design is ready?
Today, we’re going to do another exercise, to demonstrate again why designers and architects are so valuable in society. Hold your judgement, and let’s go on a quick journey into the mind of an architect.
There are many architectural design competitions that sprout up across the globe on a regular basis. But among them, there are only a few that truly rock the world. The Designing Guggenheim Helsinki competition is one of them. You have to check it out.
“Guggenheim Museum” is a phrase that resonates prestige in most architects, art afficionados, and regular folk alike – not only because of the art pieces they house, but also because of the architecture itself.
When I was a freshman in architecture school, I honestly still didn’t know what the heck it meant to “design”.
Sure, we are already in the thick of many design projects for our different classes – design a hat made out of this, a workspace for this person, a house for this client. But going into all those endeavors half-blind to what I was really doing was limiting and counter-productive.
To me, the conception of what designing specifically meant was a vague animal. The first thing that popped into my head when I heard design this, or design that was, “Okay, how to make this thing pretty?”.
I remember when a high school friend asked me in a small reunion “What does designing mean, exactly?”, and I was put in an awkward situation. I said a whole bunch of somethings as a reply that really meant “I don’t actually know bro or maybe I do but i’m not sure”. I was a designer for goodness sake, but I didn’t know what I was really doing.
Do you have a clear idea of what it means to design?
The ways we enclose and orchestrate space have evolved, and they continue to evolve over time.
This only makes sense; as architecture moves and shapes people, the people also move and shape the architecture. It’s a beautiful cyclical process, and it’s the prime reason why architecture is the greatest testament to humanity. So then, how does architecture evolve? As people develop their views of the world and universe, the architecture will reflect their beliefs.
The principles of Feng Shui guide every step of traditional Chinese house design. Christianity and Islam both have their beautiful places of worship; churches are filled with images of Christ and saints – but for Islam these human forms are taboo when relating to Allah; the focus instead is the infinite greatness of the Almighty God- which is why Mosques articulate with geometric patterns that spread out infinitely. Continue reading Architecture is like a species – it evolves.→
There are only 4 Basic Elements of Design. Seriously.
If you’ve already read up on architecture before or consider yourself to be some sort of design aficionado, I invite you to empty your cup and be a little kid again. Sometimes our minds overcomplicate our conceptions, which makes us more closed off to learning. All preconceived notions gone? Good. Now, understand this simple truth:
Designing only has four basic elements. Point, Line, Plane, and Volume.
I’d like you to imagine that you are are a baker who is itching to make a fresh batch of cookies.
You’ve prepared your dough, and have proceeded to roll it as a flat sheet on the table. The next step, is to take out your forms and cut out the cookie shapes.
Tell me, how would you go about in cutting up your cookies?
Would you try and carefully place the forms tightly together in order to not waste dough?
Would you space them out evenly according to a certain standard so they don’t expand into each other in the oven?
Would you cut them up without a care in the world because you’re just going to re-roll and reuse the residual dough anyway?
In the context of design, the parts within the cookie outlines are positive spaces and the residual dough themselves are negative spaces.
Understanding Architecture is like getting punched in the face.
Architecture is complex; there is so much bubbling under the surface that people tend to take it for granted. Maybe it’s because that experiencing architecture is a sneaky little devil – it instantly affects our psyche without us knowing that it is doing so. But if you were to actually study how your brain works (luckily for us, the awesome scientists have already taken the reigns on that one; thanks guys.) you’d find that we understand architecture on 3 fundamental levels. Like unwrapping a present through its layered packaging or savoring a candy bar from crispy exterior to chewy core – the way we perceive architecture is a layered experience.
I like comparing experiencing architecture to boxing, specifically getting hit by a jab-straight-hook combination.
The architect’s life basically revolves around three things – Space, People and Time. We care about designing great spaces for people, that will be experienced over the passage of time. On a technical level, it can be said that architecture is the art and science of the definition and articulation of space. From here, you can see that at the core of everything, space is our medium. Much like how a composer orchestrates music, an architect orchestrates space- making it purposeful, beautiful, and sturdy to stand the test of time.