Recently, a friend asked me to help him find the right size for the addition of a family room for himself. He was looking for an empirical rule that would guarantee a comfortable and "architecturally correct" space – a shortcut to good design. He wanted to have access to the magic formulas we apply in our practice. "It's my," he says, "let me get into the secrets."
That made me think of how a white sheet of paper ends with a drawing of the house, and how we make sure that what we drew is revealed as we expect when he is built .
It's a frightening prospect for a customer – how are they always certain that the representations they see on paper, on the computer screen and in the form of d & # 39; A model will really end up as their dream home?
Buying a car or an existing home is a lot less risky – you can test a car first and you can cross an existing home. But it's a leap of faith to commit to designing and building a new home. You do not exactly know what you have until you have it .
For these reasons, I have great respect for the people who come to us. They are usually crossing unexplored territory, are ready to make control of their dream to someone they barely know.
But what about these rules of thumb – the ones we design for professionals keep the public secret? The truth is that although there are no architectural edits in black and white, there are a number of important concepts that help determine the comfort and utility of most residential projects.
The first of them is research. And that is, sometimes, a bit of a secret. Before any meaningful work design can begin on any type of architectural project, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the problem. It begins by documenting the physical context – the site, the existing structures on and near the site, the views, the climate, the slope of the site, the solar orientation, etc., because a really good architecture meets its environment. The project budget and schedule are also used.
The other part of the context is less tangible, the context of dreams and desires of the client. And while some clients bring large amounts of information on what they want, most need a boost to help articulate and articulate what was bouncing back into their minds. head.
So Thumb Rule Number One is: Good research leads to good design. Deep? Not really, but certainly essential and often underused.
Rule of thumb number two : Begins slowly. This can be an agonizing prospect for the client who has been thinking about his new home for months – planning, dreaming, collecting ideas, visiting other homes and generally being ready to start designing.
But the potential danger is to arrive at a solution too early. As the design begins to appear on the paper, it becomes more "real" and, in the eyes of the customer, more difficult to change or even reject completely. A slow start means that the plan remains "free" and that any irrevocable decision is postponed until a number of different possibilities have been explored.
Rule of thumb number three : Design From The Inside Out. It's a big, and sometimes most often abused. Good design matches the use, not the opposite. This can be anything as small as making sure the bedroom fits a king-size bed, or as big as deciding if you really need a dining room , lounge and other "formal" spaces in the house. The intended use of space and the particular way in which the occupants will use it should be the paramount consideration in the design of the shape and character of any home.
Whether you are working with a professional drawing or trying your own hand, keep in mind Rule Number Four : Ask questions early and often. Part of the job of the architect is to make sure the design drawings adequately communicate the intent of the design to you, but you must let him know what you do not understand. Many design tools are available to make the design more "real," including computer models and physical models, and the more you use, the more design you'll understand and be able to predict "real thing" will be like.
This is what I told my friend with the curious mind. He took a little more time to explore how his family would use the room, even moving his furniture on his back to find the space he really needed. The result was a family room a little smaller than he had imagined, but that was more useful. But he was still not sure of having had time to take a look behind the curtain. "That's my," he said, "leave me on the true secrets."