Elwood House - photo of model showing street facade

What does the Design Process look like?

The design process is integral to the form of buildings and spaces and it is essential to the creation of architecture. So, what does the design process look like? Where do ideas for buildings and spaces come from? How does the design process itself determine the shape and form of the project.

To begin with the design process from the provision of architecture services is essentially linear. This makes sense – we start with an overall conception of the project design and we work through to the detail aspects and implementation of the project. The process is standardised so that the design process is predictable and rigorous.

There are other ways that the design process can take its own life and form. The design process is a craft, it is a creative activity creative and it is grounded in practicality and efficiency. It is an inexact science – one where we (humans) try to find the best fit response to a range of different issues and to bring those complimentary or contradictory forces into a cohesive whole to make a project. The design process is about navigating a range of ideas, conversations, requirements and we land on a solution that may or may not have been imagined at the outset.

So how does the design process work at our practice?

The key aspects for our practice is to make sure we understand as much of the project as we possibly can. We do this well in advance of ever thinking about the design response. Understanding the key requirements such as orientation, regulations, client needs, budgets and so forth are essential and we see each issue as a layer that overlaps the project. As we develop design ideas we try to find a strategy that is the best fit to the issues we have investigated. By so doing key issues emerge and this emergence of forms, shapes and materiality is the basis of the design solution we develop through further and further investigation. By working and reworking ideas emerge, materials present themselves as possibilities and as we work the solutions become clearer and clearer to us.

Taken to its logical conclusion the design process could conclude with a resolved response to the issues that were investigated at the inception of the project. However, in my opinion this is not nearly enough to make architecture. We want to be technically proficient in our project resolution of building – however we are architects and we want to create buildings that allow for an emotional response of its occupants.

So what needs to happen?

For me it has to do everything to do with the way in which natural light will react to the spaces we have created. It’s about how the palette of materials creates surfaces that interconnect as a cohesive and sinuous surface, it’s the scale of the architecture we create needs to be both recognisable and somewhat abstract such that it takes on a more ambitious.

And it’s about finding a mood or atmosphere to our projects that have a quiet resonance with its surroundings. Our is not an architecture that shouts – but hopefully we create forms and spaces that takes on a presence in the urban environment and becomes an object of integrity.

Through the the design process, the exploration of ideas we can ensure we find a building solution that is the best fit to the needs of our clients and the community. By taking the extra step of we can transport the shape of buildings into architecture and to affect people’s response to the the built environment.