Monday, July 2, 2007

What is Inspiration?

When beginning the process of building design, one first must come up with a concept. A concept can be anything. A piece of furniture, a faucet, a certain way in which spaces must relate, a pool, a prevailing wind, or an optimum view. The concept is the driving force that dictates, to a certain extent, how the building will look and function. It can be seen (sometimes clearly but often not) in every detail and every space as it permeates through the general design of the structure.

Some ask, "why bother?" As designers, we respond that the concept is the soul of the building: its reason for existence. Whether or not it is evident to everyone who uses the building is not important. When we look at a Picasso we see beauty but do not necessarily understand every line, every abstraction, every choice of color. In a building a concept may be understood in a similar manner. We may see that the focus of all the windows is a view of a mountain, or that the house harnesses the summer wind to cool a veranda. But we may not initially understand more subtle choices until we spend an hour or a decade in the building. The concept provides for a level of depth that creates a more interesting structure. Like the Picasso, we may see layers of thought made into physical form. The concept allows the building to communicate with the person, revealing those layers to those who wish to uncover them.

The concept is an important part of design. As designers, we use the concept as a tool and as an organizational principle. As inhabitants, the concept exists in every room, every wall, waiting for us to discover its purpose and thereby further our understanding of the building and ultimately, ourselves.

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