When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of on architect.
What follows is the 8th of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.
8. We design for your future
Buildings last a long time. The best of them last for hundreds or even thousands of years and come to inspire the whole world. Even the most humble or utilitarian of buildings have the hidden potential of transcending their generation.
The power of a building, even a house, to affect those not yet born makes the act of making one a serious undertaking.
It’s important therefore to design and build to last. The humble workers cottages of Carlton North and Fitzroy are as solid today as they were 120 years ago. Can you imagine the McMansions of Taylors Lakes and Caroline Springs boasting the same remarkable longevity?
Volume builders are focussed on selling products for maximum profit and minimum risk. They offer a long list of housing packages, but look closely and you’ll see that they’re all essentially the same. They fill their houses with shiny European appliances but use the cheapest possible structure, framing and cladding materials. They build quickly and economically, but are not dedicated to a quality outcome.
Designing to last means using durable materials, choosing finishes that eschew fashion, and crafting timeless forms that are as fresh in fifty years as they are today. It means building with care, ensuring the structure of your house is strong and its envelope is suitable to its climate. Most importantly, it means designing a house that you will love, for there is no better way to guarantee the longevity of a building than to have its custodians love it.
Designing to last also means allowing for a flexible future. The houses built when your grandparents were young reveal a very different social attitude towards living than we have today. Kitchens and bathrooms were tucked away at the back of the house; windows were small; construction materials were heavy. Who’s to say how future generations will live or what their lifestyles will be?
If you plan on living in your house for decades, not only will society change its norms, so will your family. Young children will be grown; school age children will have moved out; adult children will have families of their own. Your house should keep pace with this evolution, and remain as comfortable in twenty years time as it is today.
- Future, author’s own image.