“I just can’t see it”

Visualizing your Dream Space

An important part of an architect’s job is to listen. Listen to the needs, the wants, the constraints, the opportunities and the goals for a space or building that a client expresses, and translate that information into a built environment.

The wheels start spinning and visions of form and function come together in a beautiful menagerie of possible outcomes in our own minds. Now how do we, as architects, convey that vision to you, the client to determine if we have interpreted your ideas appropriately?

First, grab a piece of paper

The most obvious answer is drawing and sketching. Most architects can’t think without a pen in their hand to doodle an idea in a plan view or an elevation (which is an orthographic projection drawing of one side of a building or surface). And as the idea develops, these sketches turn into three-dimensional views to give you an overall picture of a design concept. Modern technology has given us amazing tools of service to produce realistic images through computer modeling. So relatively quickly, we can get a plan in place and bring those 2D, flat concepts to life with precise, accurate visualizations. This allows a client to explore possibilities, and experience the space before its built.

Tape on the floor can help our client visualize the space.

Next, grab some colored tape

But what else can we do to help a client to understand spatial layout and make informed decisions about a design? A few years ago, I came across a post in Archdaily where a Norway-based architectural firm built life-size project drawings to help communicate dimension and spatial relationships. I applied this to a local tenant improvement project by physically taping the “walls” onto the floor of their current office with great results. The clients were able to see what the impact of the proposed renovations would actually be in their space. It helped us all to make decisions on what was best for a really compact layout.

Whatever the method your architect or planner uses to enhance the design process for you, make sure you understand what’s being proposed or ask questions until you do. Your architect will make every effort to satisfy all of your concerns and help you realize your dream.

Photos from Norway-based architecture studio Vardehaugen.