Architects and the blank page

Juliette Mitchell - Architects and the blank page

Architectural jargon is quite something. I’ve come across a fine collection of words just this morning: ‘linear plan’, ‘visible mass’, ‘low-lying composition’. These are all from a sophisticated website with the kind of beautiful photographs to set the pulses of potential clients racing. But the technical and ungainly phrases above won’t do any such thing. I doubt they’d even get the architects themselves excited.

So are words on a website just a formality which both architect and clients would rather do without? It would be rude to say nothing, obviously, so they’re cobbled together, reluctantly and unimaginatively.

But how would it work if you, the architect, decided to grab hold of the blank page and set it to work in a different way? There’s no point in describing anything that photographs and floor plans can do so much better. Instead, words are your chance to alight on the kind of moments that we, as humans, can’t help but respond to and which photographs and floor plans can never convey: your excitement from the moment you set foot on the site; the to-ing and fro-ing with the client that led to a design that pushed your own boundaries as well as theirs; and how, now that the building actually exists, you and the client are both delighted with the way the light falls and the space flows.

In the end, we all want the same thing, whether we’re the architect or the client. We want a beautiful building, of course, but we also want to work with people who listen to us and understand us; we want to have the kind of dialogue which moves things forward; we want to know that our partners in the project won’t give up when things get tough; and we want goodwill to oil the process of working together.

So that blank page is your chance to make this project so much more than a here’s-one-I-made-earlier moment. It’s the perfect spot for a meeting of minds between you and future clients; this is your chance to be the architect they really want you to be.