The Architectural Design Concept
What is an Architectural Design Concept?
"Go Get A Concept" ...
For many students, the CONCEPT is the most difficult step in the design process. The “CONCEP” will guide all future design decisions and products. The “CONCEPT” is expressed through sketches and statements that explain how the chosen "CONCEPT" provides a comprehensive solution to all the project's problems. An abstract small sketch can express the main concept that you want to follow. Pictures and examples of other projects can be used to express the intended image you want your project to be in the future.
Concept Information Sources
Program and Site analysis provide us with information, considerations and conditions that affect our design decisions. The Concept provides the holistic idea that brings the program and the site together. It will provide solution to program requirements, site conditions and human aspirations. The building will be seen by the society (indirect users) most of the time and be used by direct users part of the time. Sources of concepts can be from nature, technology, culture, literature, art, site, program, etc.. It can be pragmatic (direct) or abstract (indirect).
The Concept Vision
A Concept integrates Site, Program and Form according to a holistic idea or vision. It communicates a Meaning that the architectural designer wishes to communicate to the user and viewer of architecture. It will provide and image, landmark and place. The project is like a cup that contains juice! The cup is the site while the juice is the program. The concept gives shape and appearance to the “cup” and a taste of the “juice”.
Presentation of Concept
Digital - using computer PowerPoint presentation. You can scan your sketches and include images and pictures of your ideas. Use all necessary drawings that can communicate your concept.
Manual – use one board to illustrate drawings and images that are required to illustrate your concept.
Research shows that "the development of architectural concepts during professional education ... shows a progression from concrete, physical concepts used by students in the early years of training to more complex, abstract concepts used by the more experienced students. ... the process of architectural education appears to develop in the students an increasingly complex underlying structure to the concept of architectural style."
The Development of Central Concepts during Professional Education: An Example of a Multivariate Model of the Concept of Architectural Style
1- Site Analysis
- Physical characteristics: size, configuration, topography, geotechnical, etc.
- Climate: wind, solar orientation, temperatures, humidity, precipitation, etc.
- Environmental Factors: view, existing vegetation, drainage, etc.
- Adjacent land uses and other site factors
Parking is a very important concern, especially in this part of the world where transportation depends more on cars than public transportation. And, the project type (a service station on a highway) is only accessible by cars. Parking areas will be the starting points for people’s access to the project. The “Site Plan” will illustrate how you resolve access and parking problems. Each car requires 30-40 m2 as a car parking place and streets.
(325 to 450 square feet)
2- Program Analysis
Net and Gross Area - Building efficiency
Programming is the activity of determining the "program", or set of needs that a building needs to fulfill. Any project is composed of several areas “assigned” for specific functions. These areas are usually expressed and identified by the client or data books. (Neufert, Time Save Standards, Planning, etc.)
The unassigned area is very substantial percent of the building area. Net-to-Gross Ratio or Building Efficiency varies significantly for different building types. If it is accounted for incorrectly, it can have a significant negative impact on building quality of the project. Estimate the amount of additional square footage (meters) that will be required to account for unprogrammed spaces including:
- Circulation spaces
- Mechanical and electric rooms
- Janitor’s closets
- Rest rooms
- Miscellaneous storage
Efficiency ratio = Net Area / Gross Area
Relationships between functions are illustrated as bubble diagram without considering the size of spaces. The second stage is to illustrate the relationships using the actual sizes of functions. The third stage is to distribute the functions on the site according to their bubble diagram called “Zoning”.
3- SynthesisSynthesis refers to a combination of two or more entities that together form something new. In Architectural Design this means to “synthesize” the “site conditions, program requirements and form principles in on entity under the guidance of the “concept.”
4- Schematic Design PhaseAfter establishing the program for a project, the focus in the architectural design process shifts from what the problems are to how to solve those problems. During schematic design, the focus is on the "scheme", or overall high-level design. Here, minor details should be ignored to instead focus on creating a coherent solution that encompasses the project as a whole.
5- Design Development PhaseDuring the design development phase of the architectural design process, the scheme is refined into the final design. In previous phases, the focus has been on the project as a whole. During Design Development, it becomes important to give individual attention to each aspect, each space and each detail of the project.
6- Construction Document PhaseAt this stage of the architectural design process, the focus shifts from design to communicating the design and providing all information necessary for construction.
Human Sciences“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” -Winston Churchill, 28 October 1943
Our understanding of people helps us design successful buildings for them. Human Sciences include Psychology (individual), Sociology (groups), ), Behavior (individual and groups), Anthropology (culture) and History (civilization). It is very important to realize that buildings are not neutral “containers” but they affect peoples existence, being and dwelling. That’s why our responsibility as architects is tremendous because our products affect people, society and culture. For example, a classroom shape and arrangement affects students, teachers and education of future generations.
The ClientIs there a Good client?Some clients have a clear idea of program, budget, and other project objectives, including the final appearance of the building. Others look to the architect to help them define the project objectives, as well as to design a building that meets theses goals. Is there such a thing as "good client"?
Sketch to Scale!This is the most “puzzling” statement to students!
Students believe that sketching has nothing to do with scale and that scale is only possible when we draw by tools or computer.
Actually “any” drawing can be “to scale” if we define the size of a unit on the drawing.
A sketched rectangle can be any size according to the defined scale and unit size.
The important aspect is to recognize the “Proportion” between the shapes and the required area for each space.
The Base MapThe Base Map is the starting point to develop the Site Plan.
It is a map with a known scale that shows the site and its surroundings.
The North direction (arrow) “must” be shown on the map.
Roads, buildings, natural elements, etc. should be shown on the map.
On this map you show the project form “top view”.
The design decisions regarding site and parking will be illustrated in the Site Plan.
DrawingsDrawings are used to express the project. They include:
- Site Plan (Layout)
- 3-D (perspectives, axonometric, isometrics)
Form vs. Function!Form and Function are both important consideration in architecture.
Form does not follow Function nor Function follows Form.
Form and Function Compliment each other.