5 design principles to take from ARCHITECTURE

Published: 13 November, 2018

Categories: General

5 design principles to take from ARCHITECTURE

At the beginning of every project designers are faced with the challenge of the starting point, and as many designers do, rely on the tried and trusted principles of design.  Each designer approaches design from a different angle, and has their own style and principles influencing what they do.  Yet sometimes you find a group of designers who see things not as they are, but rather as they ought to be.  In a fast growing and changing world this is encouraging to hear, see, and engage with.

Speaking to a group of Architects in the Dubai Design District, Design International, and the Kettle Collective, to get their perspective on the top five design principles they take from architecture. 

1. Solution Based Design 


The impact a building, or design work, makes is fundamental to its success.  To be successful, architecture needs to answer a brief, satisfy a need, provide a solution and remain functional at the same time.  The ‘why’ of any creative process is important when considering the end user.  Especially when a space is being transformed.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, in Cape Town, South Africa, is an example of just such a work of grace.  The Grain Silo Complex at the V&A Waterfront with its own unique historic character has been transformed by architect Thomas Heatherwick, into a master acoustic, and exhibition space.  Once a disused piece of South African history, this structure has been transformed into a functional, inspirational work or art in its own right.  Expanding the space not only beyond it’s original intended use, but also giving it a new inspired life.

2. Respect: Environment, Community and Sustainability


Fundamental to respecting our environment, we need to be creating spaces for people, considering the setting in which the building sits, and the longevity of the space built within its location.  These are key areas to take into considering when designing structures that will be around for many years.  As an architect you are not only thinking of visual aesthetic, character, and social community centred spaces, you also want the passion and emotion associated with the design to be ‘seen’ and ‘felt’ by all who engage with the space.

Just such a space is Moyo Waterfront Restaurant And Urban Farm, in Cape Town, South Africa.  Urban farm, market, and restaurant, telling the story of food, was developed by Tsai Design Studio.  From gemination to processing and production, into end user experience of organic gastronomy.  Although around for some time, this concept is a fine example of design paying respect to the environment, community, and to ensuring success in sustainability.


3. Remaining Open-Minded


Keeping an open-mind is a little like looking through a glass ball and hoping you see where the future leads.  Of course, we can see where current trends and technologies are taking us, but these move faster and with more ease then any building or structure ever could.  Knowing how to keep ahead of the ‘here and now’ takes an open-mind and courage, a boldness that few possess.  “To boldly go where no architect has gone before!”

One such endeavour is the Museum of the Future, in Dubai, UAE, by architect Shaun Killa.  Currently under construction, this space is set to be a unique incubator for futuristic innovation and design.  Having this as a tag line is a rather daunting challenge, and Killa has done just that, been bold, futuristic, and remained open-minded.  A museum created for a future not yet imagined.


4. Authenticity


Once you commit to a design of a building, know that it is going to be around for a long time.  So being an authentic architect is vital, as you are depositing visual and functional structure for possibly millennia.  Know that you have been bestowed with a great gift and use it wisely.  Create change, be part of the difference in the world.  Above all, don’t just talk, listen!

Don’t copy or imitate/replicate, be respectful to the original, there is no need to redesign something that already exists.  Whether it’s a piece of furniture, new building, or to a historic building, be authentic. 

Keeping it fantastically authentic is the Louvre Abu Dhabi, in UAE, by architect Jean Nouvel.  Drawing inspiration form the Arabic cupola, the huge dome appears weightless, and allows the sun to pass though it and deposit rays of light within the museum, know as the ‘rain of light’.  Nouvel says it best. “It wishes to belong to a country, to its history, to its geography without becoming a flat translation, the pleonasm that results in boredom and convention. It also aims at emphasizing the fascination generated by rare encounters.”


5. Intangibility


Buildings speak to us, and we respond to them, a silent dialogue; and we develop a bond over time.  “When the elements or the character of a space arouse an emotional response in us that is meaningful, significant, and enduring, we call this elusive experience Emotional Meaning”.  Through design the intangible and the invisible can be felt.  Architectural success lies in that place where without your explanation the space and the user are moved, understood, and experienced.  When this happens fluidly, you know you have done a job well.  This is wholly dependent on the designer’s mindset and willingness to bridge the gap between the user and the space. 

As the intangible is such a personal experience, a building that springs to mind is the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, Turkey.  Moved to beyond the tangible is an adequate description of this building.  When you step inside you can ‘feel’ the history.  The stories of every person throughout history who has crossed that doorstep flood your soul.  The current structure was constructed by Isidoros (Milet) and Anthemios (Tralles), who were renowned architects of their time, by Emperor Justinianos’s (527-565) orders.  Still today, centuries later, their endeavour to create connection with the space and user can be felt and experienced, once entering this majestic structure.