Why is an architect needed?

Why is an architect needed?

Most people, throughout life, go to a doctor whenever they have a health problem. And when they have legal problems naturally turn to an attorney. They do not think about cost savings, or in regarding alternative hypotheses, because they consider that these are serious issues that must be solved with the help of unquestionable and qualified professionals. But in relation to the space where they spend much of their lives and their most personal moments - their home - they often consider themselves to be perfectly independent in the process of taking decisions and determining the nature of the construction works to be done.

The truth is that when it comes to architecture, most people have an opinion and expresses it in the most diverse contexts. And in many cases, when the opportunity arises to materialize their dream, think they know exactly what they want and, above all, how they want it to be.

This fact, widely recognized and the subject of numerous studies, is observed both to build a home from scratch and to renovate an apartment.

Being able to build their own house is for many people, a dream come true. And as such should be seen. So why is sometimes entrusted to any person who presents himself as minimally capable, regardless of their formation, usually with the argument of a cheaper project fee? Designing a home is the essential exercise of architecture. It is both the most common and most tested program around the world and yet remains the more attractive by the ability to surprise us at every moment, with the recombination of the same old variables. There is no hiding – it is a huge responsibility to design a house. The decisions we make will intensively affect the daily lives of those people for an indefinite period of time, sometimes for the rest of their lives. We have the possibility to inspire, to provide comfort, to really improve their existence. If we are all different, why shouldn’ t  we have a house designed specifically for us?

And the place where our house will be built is crucial: How is it related to the sun and where does light come from? And as to the views? And with the surrounding context? And what do you feel out there? How does the earth smell, and how is the vegetation? Where do we look? How is the land modeled? All these factors, and many more, influence the response given by the architect on the project. It is still amazing how, the only time in life when one can probably achieve this dream, one can entrust this important task to someone completely unprepared ...

As for those who choose to buy existing buildings to renovate, I personally know many situations where people bought houses or apartments in poor state of repair, in need of major intervention, which could have provided excellent opportunities to correct functionally uninteresting situations, but above all to rethink the entire house based on their actual needs and desires. In some of these cases the house owners decided themselves, often advised only by the contractor, or inspired by decoration magazines, any intervention to be undertaken. And was the result bad? Well, not necessarily, but certainly could have had another level of excellence, elegance and exclusivity.

A classic mistake is, in my point of view, to think that a lot of money will be spend to hire a professional when it's so simple to paint some walls, change a few tiles or sanitary ware and voilá ... which is a double mistake: Not only such professional help is less expensive than you think, but it can also make all the difference in the final product.

As a simple exercise, if you count how much you spend to buy land or a used house and how much you will spend in construction yet to be made, and consider all this investment as a whole, it is easy to see that the architect fees will be a small slice of the total. However, the result will be totally different. A good architect will think the space in an integrated manner and will be able to customize it and optimize it to the customer’s needs and aspirations, either present or future.

If the savings in the venture are a crucial concern, a competent architect will also be able to ensure a lower cost in the construction to be carried out. Even including architects' fees!

Good architecture is designed in an integrated and mostly customized way. It is tailor made. It's the difference between going to a ready-to-wear shop or to a tailor. There’s nothing wrong with a ready-to-wear shop, but if we could only have one suit, we would certainly prefer it to be made ​​by a tailor.

Having a house thought (or rethought) by an architect need not be a luxury. But to be so, it is an affordable luxury!


2011, June

The Modernist Cabin
The Modernist Cabin