Is the Plan the Generator?
In his seminal work of modernist architectural theory, Towards a New Architecture, 1927 (translated into English by Frederick Etchells) Le Corbusier staked a bold claim that the floor plan is “the generator” – with the exterior of the building following the logic of the interior arrangement of space.
The endurance of this idea has permeated society far beyond the architectural profession, with the result that many of our clients come to us with a “plan” however sketchily drawn, that describes their intentions for their project.
What then, is a plan? It’s essentially a diagram, an abstraction of thoughts, ideas and aspirations about occupying space. It could be considered an “heuristic” or a shortcut for the building. When the plan is designed at this early stage, it is by definition a biased response, based on many hidden assumptions.
A conventional plan driven design approach poses two risks:
Fundamental to Edmiston Jones’ design methodology is a deceptively simple precept:
the project brief and the development site must be interrogated quite separately
As architects and designers, our approach is to take a step back and investigate the critical parts of any project – the activities to be undertaken in the particular situation, and the site on which these activities are to occur. The other, more ephemeral aspect we consider is time – the proposed activities may only occur temporarily, or more usually for a limited time in that particular place.
This approach delays an intuitive or instinctive solution until a deep understanding of these aspects can be defined.
By taking a broader view in collaboration with our clients in the initial stage of a project, we have found that most biases can be revealed, leading to better outcomes. The better the data we input at the beginning, the more meaningful the outputs become.