The Dish

Architecture and design, being subjective, provide innumerable options to design spaces. There are no bounds to planning spaces since everyone has their process of going about their architectural projects. However, there can be guidelines and patterns to follow. These guidelines allow architects to carve relevant spaces in innovative designs. Ultimately, the question is, how can a recipe for designing meaningful spaces help architects? Architects always have countless concepts, forms, and plans to use in a project. The recipe can help channel their ideas and allow them in refining their thoughts to provide valid and unique solutions to standard design problems.

The Recipe for Designing meaningful spaces. - Sheet1Developing the Taste:

Conducting thorough research and analysis is of utmost importance before following the recipe. It is similar to tasting dishes and recognizing the missing ingredients that can make the dishes tastier and more presentable. Sometimes, it also refers to the proportion of ingredients that requires editing to enhance the dish. Conducting research and case studies of built or conceptual projects can help architects recognize the problems beforehand. Knowing how primary users function in a particular space, what sort of problems they encounter, and how they deal with them in the present scenario will be the foundation for using all the ingredients in their required proportions to design meaningful spaces.

The Recipe for Designing meaningful spaces. - Sheet2
Case study and analysis conducted to understand the present scenario in a better way. ©Western Design Architects


Functionality- A functional space is one of the prime ingredients of the recipe. After research and analysis, architects must recognize how the space functions and how their designs can enhance or improve the functionality. Every niche and corner of the design must have an explanation or function. However, architects need not follow a particular pattern for designing functional spaces. Architects must feel free to introduce new functions for specific areas that support the primary functioning.

Space planning exercise, conducted to improve the functionality of the design.     ©First in Architecture

Simplicity- Spaces that are less complex for the user to understand will add more meaning to the design. For the recipe to succeed, architects must use this ingredient carefully. Simplicity does not apply to the design aspect but to the user aspect of the space. It is  subjective how simple an architect wants the space to be, but simplicity in terms of the functioning of a space helps to add more meaning to the space.

Resilience- Along with focusing on the present utilization of space, architects must also realize how spaces will function in future and how their designs can sustain in the long run. Resilient planning acts like a silent ingredient in the recipe for designing meaningful spaces. Resilience being a highly technical ingredient of design, must be used carefully.

Experimentation- This design ingredient is like icing on the cake. When architects are done with research and can craft a meaningful space, it is time to bring some experimentation which will enhance the spaces and make them unique to the particular designer. Experimentation may not always be successful, but in the long run, it will allow architects to break the monotony in design. If the standard designs are functional and meaningful already, experimenting with something new will add more character and definition to design.

Experimentation in Residential Architecture Design. © Habitat 67 by Safdie Architects

Utilization- Architects often compromise with meaningful spaces to maximize the utilization of a design as a whole. To design meaningful spaces, architects must realize which spaces can be compromised and which spaces are non-negotiable. It is difficult as well as crucial to maintain a balance between utilization and compromising of space. For this dish to succeed, architects must thoroughly detail the micro elements of spaces to create an impact on the design as a whole.

The Recipe:

In architecture, there is no particular sequence of using these ingredients. The recipe for designing meaningful spaces is to optimize utilization of the ingredients mentioned above, keeping all other design contexts in mind. The proportions for these ingredients also vary from design to design. How can architects determine whether they have utilized all ingredients in the correct proportions? If designed spaces improve the quality of living for the user and are able to gently blend in existing scenarios, the recipe has somewhat managed to work. Architects can benefit from the use of this recipe by being able to define each space and its functionality.

The recipe for designing meaningful spaces is significant in the present scenario since innovative and logical designs are rare. With the availability of the internet and various designs and forms at the palm of their hands, most architects today fail to add the much-needed meaning to their spaces. This process may be time-consuming but will  improve the quality of life for the users and enhance the quality of designs produced by architects.

A project designed by collaborating with the end users to create meaningful spaces © Rajesh Vora

The Presentation:

A recipe is successful only when the dish looks and tastes delicious. Likewise in architecture, a design is complete when the spaces are functional and the form is unique or innovative. Architects often tend to  innovate with forms that would look great but the execution would end up killing the functionality of spaces. The recipe for designing meaningful spaces will succeed only when the presentation of the dish (form) and its ingredients (function) have equal weightage. It doesn’t matter if the form follows function or vice versa. The design is meaningful only when both these aspects are incorporated efficiently.


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