Inputs, Process and Outcomes

How Do Building Projects Work, And How Much Will Be Involved?

What happens when in a typical building process? This is a question of ‘How?’, and for any project to turn out as you want it to, you will need to understand how the processes work.

The good news is that you won’t be left to figure this out on your own; we will be there to help guide you through the process step by step. A completed building is the result of literally thousands of choices. For a first-time client that can be overwhelming. But not everything needs to be decided at once – we will help you prioritise those decisions and give you a path through the jungle. It is helpful at each stage of the project to focus on the key question that that stage is intended to answer.

A Career In Modelling?

As you will see from THISPAGE we produce a computer model of the building for every project we undertake. There is nothing unusual about that, but rather than treating it as an add-on we have built the computer model into the core of what we do. The benefit for you is in the quality of information you have at each stage. By building everything from the model, we can at any stage check and discuss the design, for example by means of a 3D cutaway section or a walkthrough. (And these models are FUN; the walkthrough effectively puts your building into a computer game, allowing you to wander around it at will – it’s just that there are no guns and no treasure).

The point of this is to make you more involved. The traditional process expects the client to part with a great deal of money (whatever the size of the project, it is always a lot of money), and to do so on the basis of something they never fully understand. Traditionally the language for communicating what the completed building will be like is through plans and elevational drawings; if you’re really lucky you might get a perspective view.

More recently architects produced rendered images and fly-throughs. These can

communicate the intention and feel of a design much better, but are still limited, because the viewpoint for the still image, or the path for the movie, are determined by the architect. That’s fine for a one-way presentation, but not for a two-way dialogue. In our working method the project information is modelled from the outset, and so we are able to present 3D information through every stage of design development.

This change is subtle but powerful. In the way most architects still work, the visual information tends to be produced once all the decisions have been made. By contrast, in our process, you have visualisation material at each step on the way, when it can inform the decisions you are making. So the biggest difference with this process is that it empowers clients to make better decisions; by giving you radically better information, you can have more creative input into the end result. Given that you need to live with that result, we think that is important. And it is great for building consensus, whether that is at the small scale of a family home or a large scale of a community project.

Why would you not want to do it this way?

Assembling The Right Ingredients And Being Clear About What Your Hoping To Achieve.

For a project to succeed it’s essential to be clear about your aims – the ‘Why?’ of the project. Part of our job as architects is to draw out of you what it is you, as the client, are hoping to achieve, and between us to assemble the right ingredients to make the project a success.

The most basic expression of your needs will be a schedule of areas and adjacencies – which might say you need a space of ‘x’ size, and that it needs to connect with spaces ‘y’ and ‘z’. On its own, a brief written in these terms is, however, inadequate. It is essential to dig deeper, to ask ‘Why is that important?’
Aside from imaginative flair and technical competence, which you have a right to expect from pretty much any professional, the most important skill you should look for in an architect is in listening, in drawing out of you what lies behind the schedule, in clarifying what is really important.

This often involves helping you find answers to questions you may never have asked before. This extended conversation is a creative process which emerges from the interaction between client and architect. When choosing an architect, what you are really buying is therefore not a product or a technical service, but a relationship.

Creating or changing a building is a complex and often lengthy journey. And it is also one of the most significant things you can do. As Winston Churchill said, ʻWe shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.ʼ What we build, and how we build it, will impact on ourselves and those around us for generations to come. So it is really important we get it right. We look forward to joining you on that journey as your travelling companion.

What Have You Created?

The outcomes are the ‘What?’ of the project. Our vision is that when you first step into your completed project you will feel that you’ve already been there before. We believe there should be no surprises (except perhaps a few pleasant ones), and that the resulting building that emerges at the end of the project matches the things you’ve put into the process and is recognisable from the 3D model as it has developed. We want the model to have been so useful that you will have a sense of deja vue.

More Than Just A Building…

Beyond a nice building that meets (and hopefully exceeds) your expectations, we want you to think of your project as more than just a building. Which is why we try to draw out of you the wider idea of how the building fits with the rest of your life. It is the difference between building a house (which anyone can do) and building a home – which only you can do, but which you’re unlikely to be able to do alone.

Similarly a church or community project is never just about creating a hall for however many people, nor is an office project just about providing deskspace for the sake of it; these projects are always about something else, whether that is homemaking, creating community, or building the business to reach more customers.

Similarly, in one way or another, your building project will be about a larger ‘for the sake of’, and since humans are embodied beings who need shelter from the elements, then buildings are often a part of that larger aim. That is the business we’re in – helping you change the world, for your ends rather than ours; we hope you will enjoy the result, as well as the means of getting there.