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Architect 101 - Initial Design to Concept Design

From initial thoughts to completed project, getting the home of your dreams can be a daunting process. However, by following just a few simple rules and steps this process can go from painful to pleasurable.

The initial design process - a valuable investment

Fact Gathering. This is when the architect meets with the client to identify their wishes. The importance of this initial stage cannot be underestimated. The more information the architect can gather, the easier it will be to satisfy the client with a creative design. Clients are advised to spend time gathering images that represent their ideal home and bring those to the initial meeting. Two useful online tools for gathering such material are the social media platforms houzz and pinterest.

Conceptual Design - Integrated Architectural Design Charrettes

During the conceptual design phase the architect will translate your project brief and generate possible design solutions via hand-crafted sketches generated within the charette process. Through study of three-dimensional (3-D) models, the architect will be able to vividly portray sketches, enabling the client to make informed 3-D decisions.

A well conducted conceptual design phase is critical to the success of the project as decisions that affect budget, function and a client‘s ultimate satisfaction, are being made at this stage.

Using charettes early in the design process can not only save money, but it often improves project performance in the following ways:

  • An opportunity for lessons learned from previous projects and experts;
  • Collaborating on ideas, issues and concerns early in the design process;
  • Promote ‘collective enthusiasm‘ with early realistic goals and directions;
  • Establish a multidisciplinary team that can set and agree on common project goals;
  • A forum for planning the project with those who can influence design decisions;
  • Identify project strategies for exploration with their associated costs, time constraints, and the needed expertise to eliminate costly 'surprises' later in the design and construction processes;
  • Help avoid later iterative redesign activities.

To be successful and arrive at the best architectural solution we must remain receptive, creative and keep asking, "what if...?" Do not short change the early design phase. Spend time looking at options and exploring opportunities. It is always easier, cheaper and less time consuming to move a wall on paper than when the wall is built. Take time to think outside the box.


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