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  • Writer's pictureTraza Design

Working with an architectural designer - Design Concept

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

What is it?

A design concept in architectural design is a powerful idea; the big picture that serves as a guide throughout the life of a project. It is a summary of your project intent and often it is the first step in developing a design. A successful design concept is one that makes sense of complex problems such as your goals and objectives for the project.

A design concept is only successful if you stick to it.

How does it work?

First, you will need to answer the following questions:

1. What is your budget? – This can be a rough estimate, preferably on the optimistic side.

2. What is your schedule? – What is the absolute latest date that the project needs to be complete.

3. Do you have a need, wants, and wishes list? – This should be thought of through broad statements instead of specific details such color of carpet.

Once you have answered these questions, we can begin the process. It begins with an overarching thought. This could be the use of the space, for example if you are dealing with a kitchen is the idea that it will be used as the central point of family gatherings? If so, immediate things can come to mind: multiple seating areas, great sightlines, etc. A new detached studio could be thought of as a sanctuary which could mean adding plenty of natural light, utilizing warm tones, and plenty of vegetation. A design concept will take intangible ideas and connect them to the physical world.

This is immediately followed by the discovery phase. This is typically the time when you will contact your architectural designer. In this phase we will gather as much information about the project as we can. We will do this by reviewing your answers to the previous questions, site information, zoning and codes, and any programmatic information relevant to the project. Once we understand the constraints and limitations, we are working with we will begin to conceptualize and sketch out ideas.

We begin with basic shapes (form), understanding important adjacencies (utility), and aesthetic preferences (beauty). This is a fluid process that is developed through multiple iterations that are then narrowed down to about 2-3 concepts and presented to the client as a ‘preliminary sketch’. With a preliminary sketch, both the owner and designer can collaborate and brainstorm through the options. We will continue to keep you informed anytime that the design concept begins to deviate from the project requirements and overarching thought.

Things to keep in mind

Remember not to get fixated on the details during this phase. A good design concept addresses complex ideas but should remain flexible enough as the project develops. Some of the deliverables you should expect from your designer can come in 2 categories: 2D drawings and 3D drawings. 2D drawings might include: a site-plan, floor plans, elevations, and sections. These will be conceptual in nature and should not be used for construction. Additionally, you may receive 3D drawings in the form of line drawings or 3D modeling. Either form should express the volumetric feel of the space and its spatial characteristics.

Design is best when it is front-loaded. A good design concept takes time and often it is seen as enough information to construct the project. This is because a good design concept becomes a roadmap for the rest of the project, but ultimately it does not address the specifics qualifications of the project. As a homeowner, utilizing the services of an architectural designer to complete a design concept will help mitigate risk and often lead to savings in both the design and construction phase of the project.

Having a clear idea of the end goals expressed as a design concept will allow decisions to be made quickly and more confidently. It can be used to easily hand-off to a designer/drafter or talk to a builder to obtain cost estimates before you start full documentation and before signing on any dotted lines.


How can we help?

Are you struggling with your own design concept? We can help! We would love to collaborate with you on your next project. Our involvement in a project is most valuable at the earliest stages of a project. This is because most big decisions often with the biggest consequences are made. We want to provide you with professional advice when it matters most. With our design concept services you will receive a comprehensive representation of your dream space. After all, we want to be sure you understand exactly what your finish project will look and feel. Visit our website to learn more.

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