We have creative vision

When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of an architect.

What follows is the 4th of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.

4. We have creative vision

creativity

Designing a building is a sophisticated exercise in problem solving. Our clients come to us with a problem (you need your house to accommodate a growing family) and we provide the solution (a renovation comprising extra bedrooms and mixed use living spaces). This is much easier said than done. To design a house, we must navigate many oceans full of potential icebergs: functional performance, sustainability, contextualisation, planning regulations, building regulations, structural engineering, construction, durability.

The best solutions are the simple ones, the ones that resolve all the parts of the problem into a singular, holistic form. Neither draftspeople nor volume builders attempt this. The products that they sell are solutions for only a tiny fraction of the full problem. They sell houses that ignore the unique requirements of site, context, history, culture and client.

The reason for this is that simple solutions are very difficult to produce. They require deep research, sustained effort and a great deal of patience. They require creative vision.

The great German industrial designer, Dieter Rams, preached the maxim, “Less but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects… Back to purity, back to simplicity.”[1] Steve Jobs passionately followed this philosophy in establishing Apple, the largest and most design-focussed company in the world. He observed, “It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”[2] Jony Ive, Apple’s head designer, agrees: “Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity… You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.”[3]

A building is as complex a product as any, requiring not only technical expertise to reconcile its many different requirements, but creative vision to do so in a simple, sustainable, resourceful, inventive, enduring and beautiful way. This is perhaps the greatest advantage of engaging an architect: our creativity stems from both technical and artistic understanding. We are able to solve your problem with both pragmatism and imagination.


Footnotes:

  1. Dieter Rams; 10 Principles of Good DesignVitsoe; accessed 22nd June 2014
  2. As quoted in Walter Isaacson; Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography; Simon & Schuster; United States of America; 2011; p. 343
  3. Ibid.

Image source:

  1. Creativity, author’s own image.

What you see is what you get

When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of an architect.

What follows is the 3rd of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.

3. What you see is what you get

wysiwyg

The name, architect, is protected in Australia by the Architects Act, first established in 1922 to govern the registration and performance of architects. Only someone meeting the educational and accreditation requirements described by the Act is permitted to call herself an architect.

Thus, when you engage an architect, you know with certainty that she must have studied and graduated from an approved 5 year Bachelor or Master of Architecture degree. She must have trained for a minimum of two years under an already registered architect, and gained experience across a broad range of professional activities. She must have passed written and oral examinations that test her contractual, administrative and construction knowledge.

You also know that once accredited, an architect must be registered by the relevant State authority, which in Victoria is the Architects Registration Board of Victoria.[1] You know that in order to maintain registration, she must be covered by a professional indemnity insurance policy with a minimum $1,000,000 coverage. And depending on the State, she must undertake a minimum of 20 hours of continuing professional development each year.[2] You can view the national list of architect registration boards here or view the database of Victorian architects here.

Many architects, ourselves included, are also members of the Australian Institute of Architects, the professional representative body for architects in Australia. The AIA maintains a professional code of conduct, which requires members to uphold values of “ethical behaviour, equal opportunity, social justice, aspiration to excellence and competent professional performance”. The AIA also provides professional support and advocacy, and recognises the best new architecture each year via an extensive awards programme.

The minimum expertise of an architect is therefore well established, all that remains is your connection to our work ethic, client engagement and design philosophy.


Footnote:

  1. The ARBV is soon to be absorbed into the newly formed Victorian Building Authority, however its existing course accreditation, professional examinations and registration, and disciplinary processes will remain. The Architects Act will also remain as the regulatory framework within which architects practice.
  2. Continuing professional development is compulsory in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. It is also compulsory for A+ members of the AIA nationally.

Image source:

  1. WYSIWYG, author’s own image.

Our work is site specific

When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of an architect.

What follows is the 2nd of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.

2. Our work is site specific

site

Just as important as your requirements are the requirements of your site. It has a specific climate, context, history and landscape. It has a specific shape and relationship to the street. It is regulated by local planning and building controls, and has a specific vegetation pattern and soil profile.

We ask questions like: do you live in the city, the suburbs or the country? Are your neighbours clustered in close or spread out over the horizon? Are you near the sea or deep inland? Which way is north? From where do the prevailing winds originate? Does your site have a rich environmental, cultural or building history? Is it bushfire, termite or inundation prone?

These may seem like simple questions, but neither a draftsperson nor a volume builder will ask them. The former will commit to paper whatever you tell her, with minimum contextual modification. The latter will simply rotate one of its off-the-shelf plans to face the street, the source of sunlight and wind neglected.

We believe however that these questions are essential to understanding the limitations and opportunities of your site. In designing for you, we consider and address them all. We spend time on your site, photographing and measuring it. If you are renovating your house, we draw it in detail, capturing every wall, door and window. We commission a land survey to confirm the location of your site’s boundaries, its trees and services, its contours and fencing. We investigate the planning regulations that cover it, its zoning and overlays, and determine any likely areas of non-compliance. We ask what you like about your site and what you don’t like about it.

If you live in the city, we examine the local built fabric. Do you live in an area recently established or dating back a century or more? Does it have a unified or mixed neighbourhood character? If you live in the country, we examine the landscape. What is its topography? Where are the best views? Are the plants native or introduced? Where is the best place to put your house?

If you were to commission us to design two houses on two different sites, even right next door to one another, you would receive two different designs. Our ultimate goal is a building that is as much a part of the land as the grass and the trees.


Image source:

  1. Site, author’s own image.

Our work is all about you

When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of an architect.

What follows is the 1st of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.

1. Our work is all about you

20140702 you

Every client is unique. You have a unique personality and lifestyle. Your tastes are unique, as are your work habits and hobbies. You might work from home, entertain regularly or have your parents visit each month. You might be a passionate chef, film enthusiast or weekend craftsman. You may be starting a family, on the brink of your children leaving home, or not interested in kids at all. You might be cautious with the money you spend on your house, or excited about stepping into the unknown.

Unlike volume builders, we do not assume we know what your house should be like before we’ve even met you. We do know that your home should complement your personality and nurture your daily life. It should fit you like a glove, growing and changing as you do. It should delight, inspire and comfort you. It should be as unique as you are.

Which is why we design every project from scratch.

We start each project with a blank page, and keep it blank until we have taken the opportunity to learn about you, your family and your lifestyle. We assist you to formulate a detailed project brief, describing everything from how long you hope to live in your new house, to how many bedrooms you need, to what sort of storage requirements you have. We ask you to explain the requirements you have for every room, their sizes, intended furniture and connections to one another. We encourage you to develop a portfolio of space, joinery and materials ideas that you like, either online or in hardcopy.

Only then do we put pen to paper and begin our design work.

In architecture, there is no such thing as one size fits all. The house we design for you will be unique, with no other like it on the planet. It will be as powerfully influenced by your personality as it is ours.


Image source:

  1. You, author’s own image.