Building a New Thing

Take a look at this drawing.


This is an architectural sketch, and it looks as if it was drawn hastily w/o much thought.

What you’re not seeing is the other 100 drawings that were discarded. You’re not seeing the light-bulb filaments that didn’t work.

Now take a look at this,

Image result for nordea arkitekt skitse

This is a more refined image (of a different building), and it probably took longer to produce than the sketch.

If you’re building the same building over and over, then you’ll use the #2 drawing and just tweak it a little here and there. If there’s an issue with the ventilation, you’ll create a case, assign it to someone, and then track it’s progression. Eventually mark it as “done”.

But if you’re building a new thing, you gotta start with #1. You cannot afford the cost of pretty and detailed drawings when you’re going through 100 different designs and concepts. You can’t use Jira for phase #1. It’s too slow and too cumbersome. Just as you won’t use AutoCAD to draw concept sketches. A pen and paper is 100x faster, and you’ll need that speed to go through 100 concepts.

Sadly, what often happens is that the architect shows his sketches to people who do not understand the process, and they’re underwhelmed. They expect the #2 drawing, but demand the agility and speed of the #1 process.

The leads to a situation where just 2 or 3 concepts are tried (or maybe they just go with one), and because the concept phase is now expensive, there’s a tendency to just go with what we’ve got, even if it’s sub-par and doesn’t spark any joy.

A good architects sketches are anchored in reality, yet produce remarkable buildings that are pleasant to look at and live around. Bad architects produce ideas that aren’t feasible to actually build or – perhaps even worse – design buildings based solely on the knowledge of the technology, but with no empathy and understanding of human nature.

You’re going to need detailed drawings, but not until you’ve done 100 sketches.