Architecture is neither ready-made nor a manufactured product. Every building starts with an idea that transforms into a piece of architecture. The intermediate between the idea and realization is known as the Design process.
The architectural design process is often misconceived as doing sketches and models or iterating with software. The design process is the way we think and interpret a design and how our thoughts are transformed in its making. Here are some of the examples of the design processes of famous architects and the lessons we should learn from them.
1. Bernard Tschumi
The process of architectural creation for Tschumi is the cross-application of context, content, and concept. For him, there is no architecture without events, without actions or activities.
Rouen Concert Hall, Parc de la Villette, New Acropolis Museum
- Do not start with a form. The form will emerge with energy and evidence.
- Diagram several alternative concepts and strategies.
- You may break rules, but not at the expense of the content or concept.
2. Daniel Libeskind
Daniel Libeskind is one of the few architects who had a clearly defined style. Libeskind’s work is instantly recognizable for its angular forms, intersecting planes, and frequent use of diagonally-sliced windows. He is renowned for his ability to evoke cultural memory through his symbolism in buildings.
Jewish Museum, Imperial War Museum, Denver Art Museum
- Architecture is a process of asking questions, not finding answers.
- The architecture itself, as a whole, is a process.
3. Greg Lynn
Greg Lynn was interested in the use of digital technology to produce curvilinear spaces. The process of architecture for him is bringing into physical form the values of the culture then. He conceived space as an environment of force and motion rather than as a neutral vacuum. Space is provided like a set of conceptual frameworks and projects are developed as a network of ideas.
Embryological House, Presbyterian Church of NewYork, H2 House
- Calculus is the key to new generation architecture.
- Treat a space as an animate form, not a static vacuum.
- Innovation is a ‘given’ in the process of design, it should not be the focus.
4. Jean Nouvel
Every Jean Nouvel building tells a story. He sees every design process as an adventure and the solutions as part of that adventure. He creates a visual landscape that fits their context—sometimes by making them contrast with the surrounding area.
National Museum of Qatar, Louvre Abu Dhabi, West 53 tower
- Start with an idea that you can express in words, not with sketches or models.
- Every frame in a building should tell a story.
- The most important part of the process is to contextualize the building to the spirit of the city.
5. Kengo Kuma
Kengo Kuma’s design process is inspired by the nature of the site of the building. For Kuma, architecture should be the process – not a fixed idea. His influences come from unique explorations of glass, concrete, stone, and wood. He is also influenced by the natural environment. He strives to harmonize nature with architecture and the human body with the spaces.
Japan National Stadium, Gyeongju International Exposition Memorial Hall, Oath Hill Park
- Do not begin with the structure. Begin with a conversation about the structure.
- Architecture should be humble. Humbleness originates from working slowly and methodically.
- Imitating the shapes from nature with concrete and steel does not mean connecting humans with nature.
Koray Duman and his group describe themselves as a team of analysts who look at the existing space, light, and materials to design a building. He believes in the design’s strength to see opportunities where people see problems. For him, architecture is the extension of research and debates. His designs are poetic and engaging, functional and unexpected, experimental and affordable.
Helsinki Hemam, ASMA Islamic cultural center, Village Den Cafe
- Sensitive design is the one that communicates evidence-based research findings through bold spatial narratives.
- Analyze the existing and work with the constraints they offer.
7. Moon Hoon
Moon Hoon is an artist-architect or an architect-artist, who designs playful, innovative, and eccentric spaces. He prefers doodles to drawings and makes his doodles into reality. He has a more light-hearted approach towards architecture. He is an architect who distinguishes his buildings from the surroundings.
Lollipop House, Toyhouse, Canon House
- Architecture is an end product, not a goal that we are aiming for.
- Everything can be thought of in terms of architecture.
- Do your fantasy, it can become reality.
8. Moshe Safdie
According to Safdie, architecture is a tectonic, material medium; inherent buildability must be deeply embedded in the process. Safdie sees architectural structure as one that is disciplined with geometric form, and that architectural forms as intrinsically symbolic. He approaches architecture not as a practice of making something but as a social act that governs and changes the lives of people.
Habitat 67, Raffles city Chongqing, Jewel Changi airport
- The process of creating a building is not just in rendering it with finishes. It is in understanding and further romanticizing the materials and finishes.
- There is no style in architecture, and there could not be. Architecture must be specific to a client or a community.
- The process of architecture is not invention, but evolution.
9. Nguyen Hai Long and Tran Ngu Ngon
Nguyen Long and Tran Ngon take inspiration from nature, and even from insects. The two main influences of their design are sculpture and climate. Their process is more focused on the environmental and economical benefits.
Happy box, LT House, To Vo’s Nest, Cuckoo Coffee House
- Building with only function is just a ‘Building’; It is important to add art and emotion into it.
- Buildings are a reflection of the people who inhabit the space, and not just a reflection of the building’s architects.
- Use simple materials which work with the environment rather than fighting against it. Use enough but not more than what is needed.
10. Rahul Malhotra
The projects of Rahul Malhotra are clear responses to particular locations and climatic conditions. There are some underlying styles in the way he works with geometry. He believes in very different responses because his designs always respond to the place it is sited at.
Maskara Gallery, House in a Tea Garden, Project 88
- Architecture is not immovable and it’s very stable on the ground.
- Context is not just the climate, topography, or the culture of a place or surrounding, it is also the meta-narratives (migration, inequality, etc.,) of the built environment.
- The only thing that serves well is (y)our intuition.
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- Belogolovsky, V., 2020. Moshe Safdie believes the world needs architects now more than ever. [online] Stirworld.com.
- Medium. 2016. Design Manifestos: Rahul Mehrotra of RMA Architects. [online] Available at: <https://medium.com/design-manifestos/design-manifestos-rahul-mehrotra-of-rma-architects-437d4c777b8f>