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Architectural design process & the role of clients

Academic . HK Polytechnic University

Often a design process ends with the thought “if we had known at the start, what we know now we’d never have designed it like this.” One of the main reasons for seeking new methods is to avoid this ‘learning too late.’ - John Chris Jones

Often when architects and clients discuss the success or failure of a design, they have different approaches and outcomes in mind. These differences in approach often leads to miscommunications, which eventually lead to dissatisfaction or failure of a project.


One of the greatest risks in architectural design is not that the building will fall down, but that it will not be able to support the activities that were meant to take place in the designed space. If the building fails the test of use, then the clients and the people interacting with the space will be unsatisfied. 


The Objective

The objective of doing this thesis and undergoing research is to provide a set of tools to architects and interior designers to better understand, anticipate and respond to user needs.


The Problem

After evaluating the architectural design process in detail, a list of shortcomings was found that need to be adhered to when looking at the solution provided in the research. 


Some very interesting findings were discovered when the design thinking process was compared to the architectural design process. All architectural design process sub-heads fit perfectly under the design thinking sub-heads, but there wasn’t any sub-layer under the empathy phase of the design phase. 

This brings us to the conclusion that the empathy stage is missing from the architectural design process, leading to problems in the process.


The research brings us to conclude that there needs to be an intervention in the architectural design process. The researcher recommends that a new stage, called ‘the pre-design stage’ to be added to the overall architectural design process. This is the stage where architects could get to know more about the client even before they put pen to paper. Some of the tools to be incorporated in this stage of the design process are as follows:

• Client Profile

• Probes

• Rewriting the Brief

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