03 Nov 2009

Tutor00-Dzine Expedition

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Dzine (dee-zīn’) — The a-ha factor in architectural design. It’s the spontaneous moment when inspiration and idea reveal the immaculate solution, but it might be luck.

What is architectural design? Is it a process, accident, instinct, luck? It’s difficult to describe. You may have seen definitions such as “Architectural design is translating needs or requirements into a functional, beautiful and sustainable built environment.” That definition and thousands of derivations like it sound clinical. For me, it’s the solution that best integrates people, place and planet with the prescribed budget. Hmm, that sounds rigid and scholastic as well. Why is it so difficult to explain something so natural? The closest parallel is explaining one’s faith. It exists, but defies universally explicable definition.

Design is a strange blend of research, discovery, process, inspiration and moment. No matter how many times I read that loose description, it doesn’t satisfy my yearning to clearly define it, so I developed this layered arc diagram (as any self-respecting architect should) to illustrate my goal and considerations.


The journey begins when the client says, “I want a building.” Music to my ears, but I can’t get there from here without learning about the client and the site. So, I invite them to join me in the exploration. It begins with me asking many questions to get to know you and answering them with diagrams and drawings. The result is us getting to know your personalized project.

As you read through the design sequence, you may perceive a methodical process; however, in practice it behaves more like a boomerang. I merely organized the information to illustrate the integrated and complex criteria we use to design projects. If I wrote it exactly as it occurred, it would sound like an auctioneer on caffeine. The layered arc graphic helps, but fails to capture the ricochet quality of design. The following samples will show tools I use to gather information and draw conclusions about your lifestyle, environment and community.

  • Getting 2 Know U and Your Site:
  • 01-Initial Interview — We ask questions about your wishes, family, business, schedule and site to prepare a proposal and draft a contract
  • 02-Space List — You make a space wish list including every space for every activity you want in your new home
  • 03-AAA Matrix — We record inventory, activities and adjacency to learn your habits, how your building works and how much space you need
  • 04-Feature List –You identify interior or exterior features, finishes or ideas that define your project
  • 05-Show-&-Tell — You share photos, ideas, sketches, poems, diagrams to show us visuals that define your preferences
  • 06-Bubble Diagram — We develop functional diagrams to show and test space relationships
  • 07-Site/Code Analysis — We study site’s topography, views, context; circulation, utilities, code, zones and climate to understand opportunities and constraints
  • 08-Block Diagram –We develop a block layout to show spaces and circulation inside and around the project
  • 09-Scheme Models — We draft different schemes to show project solutions and choose one or combine them for further development
  • Getting 2 Know Your Project!
  • 10-Design Plans — We show your building layout inside and outside.
  • 11-Elevations –We show what your building looks like.
  • 12-Finishes — We pick finishes, features, fixtures, equipment, appliances and everything that gives your project color, texture, purpose and character.
  • 13-Sections –We coordinate all building systems to integrate architectural, structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, security and data components.
  • 14-Project Audit — We review everything to confirm we understand what’s in it and what’s not — and why
  • 15-Project Plans — I create your scaled construction plans to show what, where, how to build your project
  • 16-Project Manual — I develop details to show how to construct the architecturally-unique features in your project
  • 17-Project Specs — Me and your contractor identify specific materials, methods, standards to build your project

This is a quick design outline, but for more detail and samples read the next few articles to see what WishingRock Studio clients experience. Click the “step” link at the bottom of each article to cycle through articles sequentially or click the “back to list” link to select an article at random or revisit your favorites. We hope you enjoy this journey and your personal project expedition. Remember this is a notional road map and your design may proceed similarly or may combine steps. Enjoy the tour!

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About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.