If you are about to undertake one of the most expensive projects of you life, namely renovating or building a new home, of course you would do all you could to ensure it’s success. Success in a project of this sort can be defined in many ways; aesthetically, functionally, technologically and financially, for starters. Then here is some sound advice, consider employing a team of professionals to work together on your project from the very beginning. When contractors, architects, interior designers, engineers, landscape designers and others collaborate on a building project from its inception, the result is typically far more successful than a similar project tackled with a piecemeal approach.
The increasing complexity of building–including knowledge of technology and energy efficiency, building systems, codes and materials—requires a team of interdisciplinary professionals who are specialists in their fields. An integrated design team views building design comprehensively, as a single entity from both an interior design and architectural perspective.
The architect is only the most obvious professional in construction planning. Imagine how useful it would be to have an engineer and contractor on board quite early in the planning stage to assist in discussions about structure and support, which will save both valuable time and money. Another important fact to keep in mind about contractors is that when they are asked to build something in a way that they are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with, it’s typically reflected in the result. If the new method or material is discussed well in advance, and the contractor is a part of the planning process, his approach is likely to be more positive and therefore, successful.
Landscape design undoubtedly enhances architectural design and the ability to see the possibilities and plan ahead for them, only increases the opportunity for enhancement.
Homeowners and others often don’t appreciate or understand how both an architect and a designer can work together at the planning stage without duplicating effort and expense. Carol Jones, of Kasian Architecture, Interior Design and Planning, states that “the line between architecture and interior design, as it applies to the design of an integrated building, is becoming increasingly blurred. Jones’ firm asked their architects and designers about the benefits of collaboration.
The firm’s interior designers responded that advantages of collaboration with architects include more complete programming, increased sensitivity to the end-users and human factors, and enhanced functionality of buildings. (The program is the list of requirements as determined by the homeowner, that the building must meet.) The architects felt that the designers in the firm bring a different process and approach to the project which encourages a holistic outcome. When they work closely with designers they gain an increased knowledge of building materials and applications and an increased awareness of interior design capability and areas of competence. Each learns from the other but the focus is on the quality of the solution rather than the respective training of the participants.
Most helpful for homeowners who may consider employing a team to work on a building project, is the suggestions made by these two groups for the most effective process of collaboration. Ideally, the integrated team will meet together to allow free exchange of ideas and group problem-solving. The interior designer will play a central role at the beginning of the project, leading the programming process and interior space planning. Clarity on roles and expectations is essential and a team session at the beginning is a good way to achieve this important goal.
Perhaps the most effective collaborative project I’ve worked on required, during the construction phase, weekly meetings with the core team members—the homeowners, the contractor and his project manager, the architect and myself as the designer. Depending on the phase of construction, others would join the meeting to discuss their expertise in heating, or lighting for instance. Sometimes these meetings would be brief but the discipline for all of us meant that nothing fell through the cracks, every detail was attended to. As a result, the project was a terrific success.
As professionals, we know collaboration is useful and encourages us to challenge and inspire each other. In the words of Carol Jones, “an integrated approach to architecture and interior design creates spaces that enhance how we work and live—balancing the structure, the systems, and the grace of the building.”