When you make the decision to either create a new home from scratch or convert/augment/improve the one you already have you are suddenly making decisions that could very well be life changing. At the very least they will be expensive. A point of conflict can develop within a project if client and architect are not entirely working from the same script. The best possible way to avoid this happening is to first understand the nature of ‘the architect’ and to then build between you and the individual working for you a shared language and frame of reference.
What are they like?
An architect’s training is comparable in length and depth to that undergone by a surgeon. With both architects and surgeons their talents are what we prize the most with good social skills being something of a bonus where they arise. Add to this the fact that until quite recently women were a rarity in the top flights of architecture and it is easier to understand how architects came to be widely perceived as a tower fixated boy’s club with a tendency towards arrogance.
Every architect dreams that their work, be it a headline grabbing tower or the subtlest of environmentally sensitive eco-projects, will become a benchmark for quality and a template for excellence in the future. Inside each is a Pompidou Centre or Eden Project just dying to break out.
Also it is in the ambitious architect’s nature to love innovation and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of design and construction techniques across time and across the world. Many will therefore quite happily experiment with locally untried and untested new or ancient materials if they can get someone else and this would be you, the client to pay for them.
Talk the talk
It is helpful to try and learn the basics of the architectural language. For example do you have a good idea of what 1,000 sq ft would actually look like? How about a triple height atrium or a mezzanine deck? Do you know what solar gain is? On top of these technical terms each architect will have their own individual language.
Chain of command
Once you feel you have found someone who you understand and more importantly understands you, you will need to establish a chain of command for your project.