Designing a house, Designing a life

Whether it is ‘Chai pe Charcha’ or ‘Dialogue over Coffee,’ these are the moments where one can easily strike a conversation with strangers. I realised it while I was travelling for work last month and delved into a dialogue with my co-passenger. This gentleman had just got his house built involving an architect.

During the discussion, I started posing questions to him regarding his newly designed home, like where does the family meet most often, how often does he gets to see his mother while he’s home, where do they drink tea and likewise. He was quite amused by my questions and was more charmed when I told him the plan of the house based on his responses to my questions which were all based on the level of interaction only.

This person got perplexed when he realised that the new house has essentially has changed their living patterns and lifestyles. The closely associated kitchen in the centre of the house was now shifted to a corner which had restricted his mother’s presence to that area only and now nobody gets to see her while crisscrossing. Similarly, since the living room was beside drawing room and had no partition, dwellers preferred their rooms over it.

He asked me if architects know that the design of the house influences the living pattern. He told me that their architect never asked him any question pertaining to their lifestyle but told them how the new house should be. The jargons he used and the declamations he proposed were glitterati in front of their limited understanding and thus intimidated them. Their timorous self, was terrified of saying anything as they found themselves ineffectual to debate with the architect.

This made me ponder over profession and professionals. Architects often use gobbledygook language which bullies the client. Instead of putting forth their points, they therefore try to avoid any confrontation or debate with architect, who would anyway using the presentation and oratory skills misleads the client from understanding the design and examining if it satisfied their requirement.

There is a pressing need to shift the paradigm which the profession is following. Prior to designing, we should sit beside the client over a cup of coffee and try to strike a conversation with them, which would help them open up. This will in turn enable us to understand their requirements, their necessities and their desires. Unlike any other building, a house is a structure in which residents resides forever, it’s a structure which a person gets build once in his lifetime. Our responsibilities while designing a home multi-fold which we should genuinely understand, appreciate and accordingly design a home suitable for the residents, a home which they can relate with and which enhances their quality of life to their satisfaction.

A home designed by architect shouldn’t only look fancy and aesthetically pleasing but should blend into their lifestyle and living patterns. A family deserves a space where they can comfortably gather and converse, hence this should be a space which they can easily approach, they can have their essential needs, have colours/textures which they all like and the proportions which are not nerve-racking. We should understand that this is a structure we are designing for users and users only and thus ultimately it should be designed with them in the mind; considering their requirements and enhancing their comfort.

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