How and when do you record ideas?

This openness to ideas, and testing them for their effectiveness, encourages creative reverie and inspiration. Students were encouraged to record and reflect on their design decisions; each designer began to experiment with different design methods and tools such as diagrams, modelling and film making in order to develop their initial ideas into design proposals. Some students enjoy the multiplicity of possible design directions and generate many creative proposals (but can find it difficult to commit to an idea when deadlines loom). Anna Beer describes the use of a modelling method to analyse the site that inspired the form of the building proposal:
Exploring the possibilities of a loom, changing material, tension, boundary widths, and rhythm. Ask yourself what it’s going to be and what you’re going to make of it. This was an important opportunity for students to recognise the potential of their project to develop fully through further iteration. Site, context and place > Initial ideas Development and detail

Holly Newnham on the concept behind her project:
I wish to explore the idea of control and manipulation that runs throughout the play. At certain points it provides an escape from the complexities and practicalities of the design problem at hand. Fluency, as it is in language, is almost below the level of consciousness. Characters are hidden, secrets and lies are revealed and things are seldom as they seem. Sketching, modelling and even physical gesture are treated in the speculative and flexible manner of a conversation: quick, explorative watercolour paintings; palm-sized, tiny sketch models; sketches on overlay paper passed between and drawn by many hands. left:
Watercolour sketch of the building framed by tight streetscape. Other students find this stage uncomfortable and this spurs them on in the search for a brilliant solution that they are satisfied with (but may need to reject later on in favour of a better one, having worked hard on the original solution). Initial ideas
At the beginning of a project it is necessary to develop the brief and understand the site while also searching for ideas that will provide the basis for an architectural concept. Site, context and place > Initial ideas > Development and detail

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Interview summary
O’Donnell + Tuomey’s considered architectural response to place is not dependent on the inspirational quality of every site that they work with; it is a consequence of their ability to see poetry around them. Without a willingness to think the unexpected it is very difficult for a designer to generate creative ideas and test the potential and ambition of the project. I had in mind that in relation to the site, these random points might represent trees. In the process of that exploration the form emerges. Language and literature are not just sources of inspiration, they are also practical design tools. It’s instilled in you and it flows out of you because you have mastered it. Their response to this generated initial ideas that were developed into sketch design proposals. Perhaps this aide-memoire acts as blinkers to the creative mind. As John Tuomey says, ‘I came across this term that Hans Arp, the Bauhaus artist used about his work: he called it his ‘concretions’, which I found a very satisfying terminology for a concept. If you didn’t wear them it is likely that you would end up with a mass of ideas, each only pursued as far as they held their novelty. Just as concrete cures and settles, it becomes hardened. There’s an exchange process, which is fascinating because the drawing speaks back to you. A concretion: the making evident, the making substantial of something in form. And actually, sort of forget the problem. Does it act as an intrinsic veto vote against original thoughts that at an earlier stage may have made the mind swim with possibilities? Even to the point that drawing can be removed from the paper, in the sense that you draw it in your head or you draw with your hands. You’re not drawing something that you’ve thought of already, you’re interested in seeing what comes out of the drawing. By finding a concept that is relevant to the constraints and possibilities of the project, the designer is able to turn these factors into something positive that will also help them to choose from the multiplicity of possible directions at the initial ideas stage. At the moment it is too static and I strive for a design that responds to its open air surroundings. The design project

right:
Journey model montage
Outdoor theatre for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by U leong To. This task linked the available factors that could form the basis of an emerging architectural concept: the brief, the site and the designer’s own sensibility. It takes a long time to learn that. above:
Sketch showing routes and views to and within the building; and the solid and void both of the building and its tight urban context. Ralph Saull on the use of diagrams to explain ideas:
Design by diagram: developing a diagram which summarises the design is necessary for sustaining direction, but is it inhibiting?

Updated: 30.10.2014 — 20:05