THE POLITICS OF PROJECTS
BUILT environment projects are often cramped in between regulatory requirements, consequent government and consultant charges, construction and engineering methods, finance limitations and fickle market conditions.
As architects advising our clients, just because they don’t like what you tell them about these factors doesn’t make them untrue, and this is the honest medicine we have to deliver now or have it all go balmy later on.
There is always the ideal project of the single person, with an unlimited budget and a fantastic site, willing to try a bunch of new ideas, but this is very rare. Almost every project involves multiple people, decision making based on life choices, emotional wants, functional needs and budgetary realities… all of which amounts to politics.
Resolving these often-competing demands is part of the design process and a skilled designer will not only take abstract ideas or feelings and turn them into real spaces but will manage the journey so that the clients feel a part of the outcome and understand the meaning of the built form.
At a sensory level architecture is very experiential so the architect has to use tools to represent what the design will be like as a finished form representing the client’s ideals.
Since only about 10% of people can naturally visualise in 3D, the computer modelling tools help, but often it is a complex mix of different sensory perceptions that make spaces work i.e. volume, height and width, surface, texture, light, colour, materiality, detail, outlook, linearity, expansion or contraction, perception, contrast, visual acuity, and pre-conception.
People will often say they like or dislike a space but can’t explain why, or they recognise the functionality of a building because of its form e.g. a church.
The real ideal is to be able to trust a skilled architect that can take you beyond your current expectations and find form which is acceptable now and into the future.
This is transcending the politics of the day.
Adrian Charles Just runs Archicology Architects and is also Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regional Chair for the Australian Institute of Architects. This article is from a series that also includes building budgets, and architects value.