Do Architects Extend Thinking Inside The Home Box Enough??
July 31, 2011
Do They Think Inside The Box Enough?
Technology and innovation are great. Pushing new boundaries, creating new ideas. One thing that is constant is change, but can new technologies and new ideas sometimes distract from a client’s basic needs? Especially when they are looking to extend their home or create a more useable side extension?
Often during the course of my work when I see houses planned I am asked to create a kitchen design off plan. Often I find that there are some issues large and small that could have been resolved before final plans were drawn up. All it would take is a little input from someone who sees this regularly, like a good kitchen planner. This is not an infrequent occurrence.
Architects – An Example Gone Wrong
I remember being asked to see a lady who had built her own dream home in Yorkshire South of Sheffield under the guidance architects experience. The home came complete with home cinema room, swimming pool and gym. I drove up to this impressive stone built house, through a black electronic gate and onto a swooping drive way. I rang the bell and the grand front door opened “Hi there” she said, in seconds there was a sense of no symmetry and balance. The internals of her dream house had not been designed well.
The stairs to the right of the door swooped up to the right, in the centre of the landing a feature Juliet balcony high above the eye line. Something was niggling me. Like a bright yellow track suit at a black tie dinner. In seconds I noticed it was not centred on the door! In seconds my eye began to take in what I was seeing. A featured tiled floor not aligned to the door or the balcony, two doors to the rear of the hall offset to the left. I had not even stepped in through the front door nervously smiling I said “hello” as I stepped in through the front door.
She asked me to head up stairs, we headed down a dark narrow corridor and entered a very large bedroom with an impressive view. The bedroom felt like it was wrong, it felt awkward, the finish was terrible. It was clear in this room that the planned bedroom layout was not what happened. The client began to explain what the problems were. It was clearly causing her immense amounts of stress.
When she broke down in tears I asked “Is there somewhere you like in the house?” she replied “The conservatory” We headed down stairs and entered the kitchen through another dark corridor under the stairs making the large house feel very small. We entered through one of the five doors that covered three walls. I was presented with a badly fitted kitchen and a terribly broken layout that made no sense. We finally got through to the conservatory, after 20 minutes of her telling me what she hated about the kitchen we finally got on to the subject of what I was there to discuss, the bedroom!.
Architect – There Was Calm Here
Once in the conservatory the one place in the whole house she felt calm and relaxed, we were able to get gain perspective and chat over coffee. Finding out what was really wrong with the house that the architect had designed. It came down to poor layout and a sense of no space and the fact the internals of her dream house had not been design well by the architect. She had spent a fortune on this hose that she was loathed to be in.
This is an extreme case of not thinking inside the box enough. It could have been resolved with a willingness on the architects part to engage with someone who could have helped ‘walk through’ the property as part of the planning process. I am sure many interior designers would agree the way a space works is critical. People want to be happy in their home not outside it? It is about making sure internally the home works for the client.
Architects – Summary
What was this poor lady left with, well a £600,000.00 box designed by architects that she cannot get to work and dislikes immensely. Is this really acting in the best interest of the client? As someone who believes in working together to make sure everything is considered, would it have been worth the investment of a virtual ‘walk through’? One thing is certain it would have been a lot less costly and I am confident these issues would have been highlighted.
Why was it not done? Maybe it was the age old stock answer I hear from some architects “We do not specify internal fittings!” My view is people live IN a house NOT outside it. Whilst the outside creates the impression and ensures it sits well in surroundings, it is the internal rooms that people will spend most of their time in.
So is this tired stock answer really acceptable today? Are architects thinking in the box enough? Are architects somewhat narrow minded in their approach or is it a case they do not want to be pestered by anyone? I am curious why there is a significant lack of co-operation and working together in the building industry.