Interior Decorating

Architecture Short Course: How to Develop a Design Concept



All architecture begins with a concept. If you’re struggling to find one, curious about what one is, or wondering how architects begin their projects; this short course will walk you through the process I use and some of the techniques I rely on to develop architectural concepts all illustrated with one of my residential projects.

Design is a dialogue, and the concept ensures you have something to talk about. In this video I discuss the precise steps I take when beginning each project and how those steps lead me to an architectural concept.

Before we can develop the concept, we have to first understand the practical constraints. My design process begins only after gathering and assessing all the given parameters for a project. Now, this primarily consists of three types of information. There’s information derived from the site – things like: local climate, the prevailing winds, the solar aspect, vegetation, neighboring structures, the site’s history, and any unique liabilities or opportunities. The site of course also comes along with legal frameworks for development, which describe where and what we can and can’t build.

The second type of information we’ll gather is from the client. Every client has a set of cultural beliefs and preconceptions, preferences and agendas. Of course, we’ll want to determine their budget, and understand the personality traits and organizational politics which might also shape the design. The client and the building type together determine what architects call, “the program” which is essentially a detailed accounting of all the spaces the building will contain.

And the third type of information I gather is related to the building typology – is it a museum, a home…or a school for example? To learn about a building typology we often conduct an analysis of notable or relevant historical precedents. We want to know the essential problems these types of structures grapple with. Understanding the history of the archetype allows us to approach a problem from a fresh perspective.

All of this is necessary information that we collect for every project. This inventory can also serve as the progenitor for the design concept – our seed idea. And, rather than shunting creativity, these constraints often incite the creative process.

Concept Inspirations Discussed:
– Site
– Client
– Narrative
– Materials
– Structural
– Mainifestos
– Formal

As with a good film, the setting, the characters, the cinematography, and the plot all conspire to make it what it is. It’s the experience you’ll recall rather than the concept per se. Sure, the concept sets the film in motion and it’s the starting point for all that follows. But this concept – the one or two-line description – can’t possible capture the richness and depth of the finished film…or in our case the architecture. Yet without it, the work is unfulfilling and so it should be clear that the concept is necessary for all our work as architects.

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New video: “A Day in the Life of an Architect | Architecture vlog”

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42 thoughts on “Architecture Short Course: How to Develop a Design Concept”

  • 30X40 Design Workshop March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Part 2 of the Architecture Short Course: https://youtu.be/U2W5Wmp15YA

    Reply
  • poojagoesnutsy March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    SInce my first year as a student in architecture, I have wished for someone to explain these basics to me. And because this was missing, I stumbled through my course without completely understanding how to put my best foot forward. After working in the industry, it all became clear and now I know how concept development is an essential base for every creative pursuit. I wish I had found you earlier! Thank you so much.

    Reply
  • Leon Haley March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    very informative thanks

    Reply
  • Shayan Givehchian March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I've learned more from this video than I did from an entire semester of Arch School

    Reply
  • Scherwyn Udwadia March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Amazing video, this opened my eyes

    Reply
  • Margaret Brito March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    You're a dedicated architect who obviously enjoy the practice. I've been enjoying your videos

    Reply
  • yavuz selim KILIÇ March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    hi thank you

    Reply
  • Sea Isle Design Group, LLC March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Eric,
    This is great series and the project. Your approach to the "Program" is very sound. I have a sort vetting process I use to define the basis for the program. Like you, I do mostly residential designs and although you have outlined the bigger picture, and the obvious question, (i.e. budget, desired scope, etc) I would welcome knowing some the other questions your find yourself using no matter the client or program. Also, do you have process to delineate or check off key milestones/decisions made by the client so that they don't keep coming back getting themselves caught up in the details already covered in your process. I am certain each designer / architect goes through what I call "Verbal Regurgitation" forcing me to filter out the "less critical noise". Respecting and resisting the client's desire to unload all of their ideas at will, I try to let them get it all out and encourage documenting same. I will keep them all in their file and draw upon them as the steps progress. As you explain the design process it's important they know part of your job is to keep them on track and at the appropriate time draw from their repository of ideas to apply to the design. This process has worked well for me as it helps the client relax and begin really enjoy the design process knowing I have them covered.

    Reply
  • Laila Fitriana March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing with us. It helps me a lot to re-newing my 'old ways' to do my design work!

    Reply
  • Kovie Brion Marinay March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Very informative and helpful. Thank you so much for this video.

    Reply
  • WoodMask wSadExpression March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Am interested in architecture because i used to play minecraft where will this interest take me?

    Reply
  • pasca rupang March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    If i ask u whats is your concept ? What u gonna say .i always confused to answer this question
    thanks

    Reply
  • elizabeth bazan March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Great presentation!

    Reply
  • Gaurav Mishra March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    you are helping me …!!! I felt like god send an angle for me on earth to help for design !!! thank you very very much…
    I have a request .. can you plz make a another video on PRESENTING our concept , like on sheet and then explaining that in oral form .. that will really me as a architect student …

    Reply
  • Christopher Ross March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I am not a trained Architect but an IT professional I have abandon my IT training for architectural career. I do lots of residential designs in my country and found this video very informative I am adding it to my watch list thank you.

    Reply
  • IAN FOLEY March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Hello my name is ian i am a student at highpiont charter school i am doing a project on arhitecture, i am asking if i can give you some questions for my project?

    Reply
  • Chong jojun! balsa! March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I absolutely love the way you explain everything, you make more sense than my lecturers do at uni. We get thrown into the deep end and are expected to develop our own concepts, carry them out and present them when they never explained it to us in depth. You are saving my grades lmao.

    Reply
  • Sulaiman arman March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I'm an architecture student and I'm so glad that I found your channel. Its the best architectural channels on Youtube ever and you helped me a lot. Great content as always

    Reply
  • Sergey Onofrey March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Great content. Thank you very much

    Reply
  • Kresley Silva March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks man!

    Reply
  • Tony Myles March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Before I didn't really get the meaning of a design concept but thanks to this video I understand it much better.

    Reply
  • Ankita Singh March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    you have clear all of my doubts. thank you!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Lahiru Fernando March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you so much! you have helped me in numerous ways! thank you again!

    Reply
  • GOAY SI HUI AMANDA March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you so much! its super helpful

    Reply
  • Godfrey Tranquilino March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    what book/s can you recommend for this topic?thanks

    Reply
  • bow ties are cool March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I'm 11 but I already know that i'm going to be an architect when I'm older.
    This realy helped thanks.

    Reply
  • Darkryst March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Good Morning/Afternoon. Am just gonna say something… You're just too good at simplifying & explaining things, architecture is hard to understand…
    still i've got a favour to ask or a question or whatever you can call it. How about the picturesque concept, the image of the building or what type of exploration an architecture can make you live? just by seeing it, by living it, if you can explain that for us, it would be cool. thanks for everything

    Reply
  • afzalrahman md March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Hi sir can you give me your insta id

    Reply
  • Omar Zerhouni March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Hi. To me, the three point you rise (Site, Client, Typologie) aren't hermetic. The second would influence the first and last point. And typologie would be reductif as a word. In my thesis, I tend to sum up architecture in three dualities : Site/Destination; Objectif/Subjectif; Intern/Extern. A project concept is always adressing those three dualities.
    Site/Destination : In extremes, a project can be the result of a site. For example, if you want to build in the Vaticane, or in Meccah, the destination and function of the building would matter a lot less than the symbolic potential of the site. Some architects also refuses to adress the destination, and focuses on the site as the main conductor of the concept (Eisenmann for example). In the other hand, if you build an aeroport, the destination has so many constraints that it drown the site. Also, architects as Koolhaas tend to focus on the destination with interpretation and reinterpretatin of this destination and the typologies (I advise you the book of Tschumi, Red is not a color.)
    Objectif/Subjectif : As architects, we face two types of informations. Objectif information (of physic information) and Subjectif information. Both are articulated in the concept of a project. For example, the Taipei 101 is manly driven by an objectif information, which is the nature of the land (a sismic land) + a subjectif information (the symbolic of bamboo in local culture)
    Intern/Extern : Finally, adressing a topic, we can start from its internal composants (For example, conceiving a house, we can start by telling a story about how the family lives in it, how each room acts with another …) or from its external relationship (Still conceiving a house, what is the link of this house project with the local politic of housing, with its neighbors …)
    I think that those three dualities adress the topic of concept well, and permit to structure the process of architecture.
    Tell me what do you think about it

    Reply
  • Arch.Story حدوته معمارية March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    اشتركوا في قناة حدوته معمارية arch.story لكل محبي العمارة والفن التعليم المصور الهادف

    Reply
  • alesh kaa March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    love your teeth 😀

    Reply
  • Mylina Genevie March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Good evening! Im an aspiring architect who loves these videos. Im so blessed I hve access to videos like these to help me choose and guide me to my job. 🙂

    Reply
  • ARCHITECTURE TODAY March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Really cleverly written and illustrated, good job. I have made interviews with many great and famous architects and many of them lack a good deal of expressing themselves verbally, but your way of telling the story about the process of design is wise and flawless. Congrats!

    Reply
  • yedelyn estevez March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I've been looking for a channel about architecture for so long, and most of the things that I've found they just don't get to the bigger picture of the design process. This is amazing, thank you so much for sharing this with us, you're helping a lot!! cheers from the Dominican Republic.

    Reply
  • Prosper Kandafula March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    i have been given a studio assignment to design a primary school for the staff of the university am in… this video has made me excited and enlightened. thank you

    Reply
  • Kate RA March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    You are amazing!

    Reply
  • Steph Bernales March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    wow thanks for this! 🙂

    Reply
  • Architecture Rendering March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Your video is very helpful. To me, a concept and part-I of a project goes along. They are simple and tells a lot about the project.

    Reply
  • noor hane March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    i want to be a good conceptor ♥

    Reply
  • akash kumar March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    thank you …..this is very informative video on residence design

    Reply
  • ichigo kun March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    @30×40 , hey man , hkw do you develop your elevations? thanks!

    Reply
  • Noor Ali March 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for this amazing work i studied for 4 years and no one give me a simple yet very useful informations

    Reply

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