Design Controls

What defines the way we design? Are there controls/ external factors that are common to us all, as architects/ designers? How do we work with them?

Things like place/ context, client and program obviously are our direct sources of reference, right from the moment when we start contemplating our initial ideas, all the way through to detailing and execution.

But what if our 3 direct sources of reference are mundane/ uninspiring, or limiting in their own ways? What drives us then to create the kind of architecture that we should do? What do we look to, to design or create the kind of work we envision, or even better the kind of work that is most appropriate for that scenario?

Perhaps the answer lies in the question itself, we’ve envisioned it already. It lies in our vision.


A word whose definition goes beyond us as individuals, larger than just an image one may have, something with farsightedness. A sense to look beyond what we can directly see, to look beyond what the client may directly ask for, beyond the context and beyond the statistical program.  It means to look at the users/ occupants, the society, and even the country. To look at what they were, acknowledge what they are, and to envision what they could be. It is our job as designers to address them all and tie them together.


But then, we come back to our question again. How do we continue to do that when what we’re surrounded by what seems to be mundane, in the long run?

We do it, by using the two core facets of a designer that we may sometimes forget in our daily rush.

The first is the knowledge base we develop. This is not just the basic knowledge of structures, anthropometry and geometry that we learn as designers. We must also understand the larger areas of sociology, psychology, ecology, etc which will take us further, beyond the ‘surface of a design’ and into it’s very core. This deeper and wider knowledge base is what will give us our sensitivity. It is what will be a guiding force in helping us derive and understand what needs to be done, to see the true need/ potential within what may at first, seem to be mundane.

The second is the emotional base, one that we seem to overlook more than the first. This is the side of us that has empathy, understanding and kindness, which makes us human first and designer next. When we tap into this side, when we’re aware of it, we start to look into and realize what people really need, what the core of the requirement may be, and the intention that we need to address it. It causes us to take action and design for that future, knowing that they may not appreciate it now, but that they will in the future. It is here that we find the immense positivity we need to keep working and striving, with the firm belief that if we do good now, and keep striving to do good tomorrow, good will eventually sustain and will go around.

So when we design in what we feel to be uninspiring situations, we must remember to go back to our vision, our larger understanding of the world itself; that we see with sensitivity and positivity. This gives us the intelligence that guides us in the process of our design.

So maybe we shouldn’t be looking at design controls, but instead look for design guides that evolve with us.


by sra edu team

Featured illustration : sra edu team


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s