Reality check exercise

Occasionally, through its location, resources or cultural significance, a site provokes a project to come into being. Our shared human reaction to a place is created by the dynamic of the physical site and its cultural context. The exercise provides a check and balance mechanism to commit the designer to, and make them more aware of, the overall picture of the world that they have chosen to work within. A single building is only a fragment of an urban, rural or suburban composition and will never be experienced in isolation. The architect must visit, observe, participate in and record the site. Most often, development is triggered simply by availability or the opportunity for re-use of a site. Students were asked to carry out this exercise halfway through the project when they had the beginnings of a coherent proposal. As with all complex architectural problems, the architect must use their critical judgement to discriminate and set priorities because an attempt to express all the characteristics of a place equally is likely to result in a shallow rendition or meaningless cacophony. Many projects will have several competing and significant requirements. Overlaid on its physical composition is a social, political, economic and cultural context, which influences the way that people use the site and which gives it its character. The information to be sought is tangible and intangible, objective and subjective. It helps students learn how to develop a brief without compromising the creativity of their response to it. Use it as a reference for future decision making as the project develops. Consider the needs and aspirations of the client, the public and the architect, in relation to the following issues:
cost function accessibility quality
security life cycle users usefulness
buildability sustainability maintenance seasonality
1 Rank each of the issues in order of importance to the project. The architect must make critical judgements about their relative significance in order to deal with them creatively. The character of a place is what distinguishes it from other places. Construct a reality (however unreal) so that the total project is convincing within itself. Therefore, it cannot be designed in isolation. They must communicate in a way that leaves scope for interpretation and adjustment for change in the future. 3 This written statement creates a more detailed and complex context for the project. The physical composition of a site contributes to making it a distinct place through the particular arrangement, type, scale and materiality of buildings or topography. Their perception must be heightened if they are to understand complex and subtle facts and reactions to the site that are not always expressed by the inhabitants.

Updated: 29.10.2014 — 22:01