Collaborative Ways To Share design

Community & Co-design
by Margie

A number of organisations in our region have experienced Edmiston Jones’ collaborative approach to design. As our process matures, the graphical tools we use to communicate our designs also evolve.

Graphical tools used in EJ’s co-design process.

We have a long-held belief that a plan or sketch should reflect only the level of detail required for the decision that is needed at the time. In other words, if the decision to be made is about the organisation of spaces, we don’t need to concern ourselves at that point with, for example, the direction of door swings!

Many of our clients find it difficult to visualise architectural drawings, and plenty request three dimensional renderings very early in the development of a design project. Photo-realistic images are easily produced but we have found that when presented too early, they can quickly put an end to the collaborative development of a design, effectively shutting down innovative ideas that can otherwise emerge over the course of the project.

We use a suite of tools like diagrams, sketches, models and montages to facilitate input to the design, ideally from a wide range of collaborators, not only the client. In a recent interview, Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao, who has banned renders from her practice, relates the story of a client who was “surprised” at the end of a project, after being shown a rendered image early in the project’s development:

“He stopped following the process because he fixed an image into his mind… I thought, this could be very dangerous and damaging to the creative process.”

She goes on to explain how the technique of collage can be used to encourage collaboration:

“Collage became an incredible tool for design with a lot of meanings for us. A collage allows a lot of voices to be in one place.” Tatiana Bilbao, House in Germany

This way of working resonates with Edmiston Jones, and we are skilled graphic communicators using traditional analogue methods like sketching. We also see the benefits of new technologies in our practice like VR (virtual reality) and 3D printing, however we’ll always use them wisely, to help our clients actively participate in decision-making throughout the design process.


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