This model is smaller than my fist.
Today, models like these are mostly done in two dimensions, on screens, after some scribbles, some hard-lining (on a screen) of those scribbles. Creation results. It really does not matter how you vision, revision, or make before finding what is to be made, the important reality is to connect your mind to the place, people, ideas, requirements, Craft, and limits of law and nature that are to be imposed. These are the methods of “practice”, but before the procedures are set, those means need to follow how the creator thinks and visions, then works through the eventualities that any approach encounters.
This is not doctrinaire, following a fine arts declension of “hierarchy” or “transparency” even “allegory” or “vernacular” . I think making things starts with humans and humans live in lives of with motivations. The result of all the means and methods any creation builds is an outcome: but the outcome should not bypass the motivations a problem. Outcomes result from motivations, processed through the means of visioning and communication, “practice”.
These are my ways of making, communicating. They are just mine. But first, anyone needs a place to make yourself. The laptop suffices for many, but a bunch of humans can make more things better, so firms of humans result:
These gatherings are organized somehow, usually by one or three who know more and some who know less, and are learning, by helping to make things. So communication within a firm is crucial.
The communications that result are often problematic because creativity is often inarticulate, autonomic and idiosyncratic. So profiling that is hard. Drawings help, drawings with words, more:
But we find models are the best way to communicate to each other, before any owner/user sees anything.
The scribbles we make are often inscrutable shorthand of reactions, not creation.
But the ping pong game starts when the user/client sees the options we define, with their preconceptions, and hopes fully presented, then variants, then fully reconsidered ideas derived from the same database the user/client gives you.
The ideas of user/clients are thus transformed by the open creative process. Clients/users know what is needed, a creator knows what is possible, and a dialogue begins, where trust and listening mean more than being “right”. But I think that trust starts in the value each creator has for what is inside their hearts and minds of the clients/users, rather than in the screens of ArchDaily.
That listening, awareness, openness comes only from knowledge that leads to understanding, so the step ladder of firms and apprenticeship give tools no school can teach. Those tools then can be offered to the user/clients who, if they trust, listen and think, give the communication an edge of reality no “outcome” can simulate. Each of these elevations are the size of my thumb. And they offered enough communication that we were not hired to do the job. A good thing, because our motivations – ascendance with light and form – were not the user/clients’, and the communication left us both where we are, not thinking the other should be something else.
The communication past the origin of an idea is as long and varied as any part of the design/build process.
And it leads to a building:
But unless all options are openly showed, even the ones the creator thinks are compromised then the communication is skewed to outcomes, not rooted in motivations.
But the building of a consensus of approach is as joyful as any other part of making. There is no “dirty work” if your final motivation is to make, not to have a specific predetermined outcome, then the making can be the fulfillment of all the communication, not a rationalization of predetermined outcomes. That means, again, that knowledge is key. And the knowledge of school is not enough, because the knowledge of actually making is critical.
The way to get consensus is not by selling an idea, to exclusion of the truth of all possibilities, the way to make anything is to take the time to present the opportunities in ways that convey all the project’s properties, whether positive or challenging – use, cost, maintenance, context, environment, aesthetics – all of them. That is User/client communications.
With full transparency, and for me that means physical models. If there is no communication, there is just hope and fear. And fear often wins out because the risks are extreme, and things are not built.
If your mission is to make things, then pluralistic, human, open communication is necessary, because that is how humans trust and commit. Without communication what makers make is an just outcome, bought or left on the rack. Without communication, in the beginning, middle and building of the motivations, only luck determines a good fit.
So the technologies of the computer, the 3D Xerox, the watercolor painting, the video, these models, are all fine, good and great if they are open ended explorations of sharing, not sales tools to justify an outcome that bends motivations to result in a product, a predetermined outcome of the creator, deaf to the user.
Duo Dickinson, FAIA
Graduating from Cornell in 1977, Duo Dickinson opened his architectural practice in 1987. His work has received more than 30 awards and he is a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects. Much of his work is dedicated to pro bono or at-cost work for not-for-profits, totaling over 75 projects for over 30 organizations over the last 30 years. His design work has been published in more than 70 publications, he is the architecture writer for Connecticut Hearst Media Corp. and a staff feature writer for The Common Edge Collaborative and Mockingbird Ministries. He is a contributor to Arch Daily and has written for Archinect and other publications. His blog, Saved By Design has received over 100,000 hits in the last few years. Dickinson has also written eight books, the latest of which, A Home Called New England was nominated for a 2018 CT Book Award. He hosts the radio series “Home Page” on WPKN Radio. Dickinson has taught at Yale College and Roger Williams University. He is now on the faculty of the Building Beauty program at the Sant’Anna Institute, Sorrento, Italy as well as co-chair of their American Advisor Board and is teaching at the University of Hartford.