In the second blog of our top tips series, we’re exploring architecture. Involving a quality architect early into a project can save money and help you realise the potential of your property. Here are our top tips of working with architects.
Appointing an architect
1. Develop a strong brief
Providing your architect with a list of requirements will enable them to see your vision and try to bring it to life. Things that could help include describing your current home:
- What you like about it and what’s missing?
- What do you think the new project should look like?
- Are there any specific designs or materials you’ve seen that you like?
- What activities of functions would you like it to have?
- How much time do you spend in different rooms?
- Are there any rigid time restraints that the project needs to be finished by?
Answers to any of these questions will help spark the creativity in the architect who, at heart, are usually natural problem solvers.
2. Conduct your due diligence
Once you’ve identified an architect, you should ask to have a look at work they’ve produced before. Check to see if they’ve done projects similar to yours before as prior experience always comes in handy. Also ask to speak to previous clients to get a reference for them.
Architects play a crucial role throughout the building process – including liaising with the contractors, structural engineers, planning consultants and so forth – so it’s crucial to do your due diligence checks and you can work with them.
Once you’ve chosen your architect
3. Check the ‘parti pris’
Once your architect has come up with the first conceptual ideas, you need to ask what the ‘parti pris’ is. The term ‘parti pris’ – or simply ‘parti’ – in architectural terms refers to the project design’s big idea, or the architect’s overall guiding idea for their design. By checking the ‘big idea’ early on, you can check that you and the architect are on the same page.
Projects are generally better when they have a guiding idea as it helps ensure the final result is a property that tells a story. It also helps to provide a kind of rulebook for everyone to refer back to, to ensure your property stays on track for the ‘big idea’.
At its heart, architecture seeks to solve problems and it’s the way the problem is solved that separates good design from exceptional design. You should work with your architect to agree ‘a family of details’ that brings the project together.
For example, if you want to emphasise the feeling of light, you could create a family of details including glass, polished stone tiles and gloss finished units (with perhaps a matte finished wood to break it up – see the next tip) to ensure lots of light reflects around the property.
5. Simplicity is key
Painter Hans Hofmann said: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Good architectural design questions complexity and components if they do not have a necessary function.
With this in mind, an easy area to simplify is your material palette. You should aim for three key materials at most and in your ‘family of details’, then define rules on how they will be used. By mixing the finish on these materials – for example, from rough to smooth or gloss to matte – you will be able to achieve an interesting design finish without complexity.
6. Repetition is key
A large amount of your elements should be repeated, which is a good thing in architecture. Windows, doors, columns, beams and materials are all part of the natural order of a building, and as humans we like to establish order. Creating a recurring theme of components creates the effect or order and for it to work effectively, it needs to be repeated three times to be recognised.
Once you’ve planned your components for repetition, you can then choose which one or spaces your want to draw attention to and break the rules. Incorporating a rule break in a show-stopper space enables you put a statement feature to draw attention to, stopping the final delivery from becoming monotonous.
7. Engage the senses
Sight is obviously the dominant sense that absorbs architectural design, but good design also considers the other senses. For example:
- The materials you choose will respond differently to the elements, so would you like to minimise or emphasise the sound or rain?
- Could the aspect of the building help shield unwanted noise?
- Would you like warm wood flooring or cool concrete flooring?
These are all points to consider when working with your architect on designing your project to make sure that it’s functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.
We hope you’ve found our tips useful. As with all our tips, they’re based on our experience so we’re keen to hear others: do you have any architectural top tips you’d like to share? If so, please comment below. Next week, we’ll look at interior design.