Today we were happy to be inducted into the Global 100. ("the Global 100 program provides a benchmark of the very best of the best industry leaders, exemplary team’s and distinguished organisations." http://www.kmhmediagroup.com/awards).
"The purpose of the Global 100 is to provide the readership with a comprehensive understanding of those firms that are truly leaders within their chosen areas of specialisation". http://www.kmhmediagroup.com/awards
So we are both proud and elated, as a team, for such recognition so tried to distil some the process and things we use to achieve this. Ok, it is not a punchy 5 tips to success but if you read on you will get an insight and can maybe improve your creative business too:
In the architecture of ETA + Partners Ltd the process of innovation is hidden in plain sight.
The ability to communicate, have access to resources and to be truly mobile, creates the perfect environment to successfully deliver a full range of professional architectural services and completed bespoke solutions, for the client.
Although the services and 15 years plus experience of our team cannot be easily replicated the availability, of the means of production, are actually at the hand of every consumer. And this is the real alchemy and innovation. Once you bring together the devices, software and set the mechanisms in place we feel it is easy to apply mobility and accessible communication to ultimately achieve success.
So as a basic list we use:
CAD - Computer Aided Design /Draughting – Scaled architectural drawings
Pens and paper - Sketch ideas and client drawings for design workshops.
Samsung Gear 360 camera for Site visits and records
Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headset for team to view 360 images
Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset for clients to view designs in advance
Whatsapp Messenger App on our mobile phones
Thunderbird Mozilla for Email on our Laptops
Team Viewer to access other laptops and to do conference calls
Dropbox for day to day storage across multiple devices (PC, MAC, Android and iphone)
Onedrive for archiving (PC, MAC, Android and iphone)
So how does all of this come to fruition on a live project?
Well let us explore with some background to a recent completed project:
The Avenue, was a conversion and extension of a large 4 bedroom house into a 6 bedroom home to cater for 3 generations of a family. Although the house was large, it was dated, was not fit for purpose and certainly not for the socio-economic malaise of the modern family. Families are no longer nuclear, but are now extended. This means the extended family is now its own ‘eco system’. Grandparents providing childcare and the children and working adults keeping an eye on, and are caring for their elders. But how does this facilitate Architecture? Well this is where we exacted our value. We created independent ground floor living accommodation for the grandparents in a side extension. Then we provided a Loft conversion, with a wet room, to provide luxurious sanctuary for the hardworking breadwinning adults. All this whilst, the existing bedrooms, supplemented with a new modern bathroom, becomes ideal for the children and visiting family. But the key to unlocking this gem of a situation was the creation of the large, well lit, family room with the kid’s play area as an apex between the grandparent annex and the family’s principle space. This allowed for not only a strong visual link for the generations but a spiritual hub and heart for the family to be as one. This was the true spirit of why we do residential architecture ; to create homes.
Laudable, but is it deliverable? Well yes and how did the basic list of components work to produce, what turned into, an Award winning submission of a project?
Experience and Research
Unfortunately there is no substitute for experience however with resourcefulness and research you can begin to resolve the issues and unlock most briefs and assignments. And if you keep your client as the central focus and truly listen to their needs and ideas you are always on the path to success. Here we had 3 generations worth of invaluable input into what was to become the perfect home for life.
Pens and paper/CAD
· This is the traditional communication tool of the architect. The initial sketches are the uninterrupted thought process of the architect processing the client’s wishes. From words down the arm, to the pen and onto the blank sheet of paper. This is the most cost effective way for the client to make decisions before the costly and time consuming CAD draughting stage or the fraught building stage. The essence of the concept that drives the project forward is often honed and distilled in this exercise. The thumbnail sketch or the scribbled phrase sometimes has more resonance than pages of analysis.
· CAD (we use REVIT and Enscape) Here as designers we are able to work from a 2D drawing to create 3D and perspective drawings. However we now create photo realistic visualisations, at an early stage, that can be brought into virtual reality and made immersive and inhabited in a way previously unheard of.
Samsung Gear 360
Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headset
Google Cardboard Virtual Reality
· The aforementioned visualisations come into their own at this stage. Virtual reality is becoming a key element in entertainment from gaming to film. It is immersive and allows the end user to be transported into imaginary spaces with a sense of immediacy.
This is invaluable for us as designers we can look at the fruits of that initial sketch scheme, negate the clinical sterility of an architectural 2D drawing and inhabit the space and make refinements.
The Oculus involves high end computing power at a £500 price point. Great for us in the office but the accessibility for the client arrives with the mobile phone in their pockets. We bring the design, through fixed room views, to their hands with both free cardboard, build yourself, headsets, or Samsung’s own version which shipped with many of the phones bought.
The upshot is excitement, appreciation and quicker decisions based on a deeper understanding and awareness of their future space. And this technology appears later in the process as the Gear 360 camera, that allowed the team and client to monitor site progress remotely and also make some key decisions that moved the project forward.
Whatsapp Messenger App
Thunderbird Mozilla for Email
Team Viewer to access other laptops and make conference calls
· Communication and access to the information and resources is the key to then delivering the immersive scheme that the client has now been sold.
· Whatsapp Messenger allows instant groups to be created to seamlessly connect the team to solve problems. Also as the traditional office hours do not usually tally with the client’s busy lifestyles the opportunity to have access our experience on the fly is invaluable.
· A comprehensive record of the process via traditional email is now shored up with Whatsapp conversations that can also be emailed and archived.
· Instant and constant access to drawings, documents and resources become key with unconventional or flexible working hours and the need to answer the questions on the move, so cloud storage such as Dropbox and Onedrive connect team in an unprecedented way on almost any portable device whether on site or a train. Having access to thousands of project photos and drawings at the swipe of a screen or tap of a button is truly on of the revolutionary elements that exists in our business model. Also the fact that it means that almost all the staff no matter of their technology platforms can communicate seamlessly.
· Need a team member to draw something up or team to rally around, conference, group critique or connect on Whatsapp or Team Viewer.
So as we graciously accept our 3rd award, of the year, we can also thank our lucky stars that the technology, and innovations around, has allowed us to curate our success. And allows us to say to you that.... success is already at your fingertips!
Innovation is the Zeitgeist and it informs what we use and do.