Communicating Architecture

Communicating architecture is a complex and varied process, varying significantly during the life of a project. How an architect communicates their ideas to a client might be completely different from how they communicate with contractors or collaborating architects.

During the initial stages of a project, architects will need to communicate with an often inexperienced client, and as such will need to include great detail on certain aspects yet remain vague on others. In later stages architects will need to communicate with suppliers and contractors, which may have legal implications and therefore need to be very specific.

It’s also likely that they would need to communicate and collaborate with other architects and designers, meaning abstract ideas and inspirations would need to be communicated long before a single line is drawn.

PROBLEMS WITH COMMUNICATION IN THE ARCHITECTURE INDUSTRY

Rem Koolhaas - founder of Rotterdam-based firm Office of Metropolitan Architecture - claims that architects are “too self-referential.” Architecture as an industry has seen huge leaps forward in the technology it uses in recent decades, however it still falls behind others in keeping up with the so-call communications revolution that is shaping the modern world.

"Architecture has a serious problem today in that people who are not alike don't communicate. I'm actually more interested in communicating with people I disagree with than people I agree with." - Koolhaas, Fast Company magazine

 " "We're working in a world where so many different cultures are operating at the same time, each with their own value system," the Dutch architect added. "If you want to be relevant, you need to be open to an enormous multiplicity of values, interpretations, and readings"."

History of architectural communication

Architecture and communication have not always been conducive disciplines. In medieval times, buildings were developed by master masons who passed their skills down from generation to generation. Not only was there less need for communication between architects, but a certain amount of secrecy was important in order to safeguard their skills and their ability to earn a living using them.

Medieval architecture drawings were limited in the amount of information they would communicate. Image source

It was during the Renaissance period that ‘architects’ as we now know them really began to emerge, and prominent creators such as Palladio started becoming attached to a specific court or to specific patrons. As such there was a demand for them to submit drawn designs of their concepts in order to win contracts.

Greater detail and more impressive architectural drawings were creating during the Renaissance in order to secure funding and win contracts. Image source

Around the same time in Britain, with its influx of wealthy landowners, architects were being employed to design and build new homes and landmarks to signify the wealth and prosperity of these individuals. Communication of designs and concepts would have been on a close, personal relationship basis, with architects accommodating their patrons ever-growing list of demands and concessions. Therefore instigating the first ever architect-client consultations.

20th century architecture communication

The architect began to emerge as a more public figure during the 20th century, as more and more organisations, municipalities and commercial companies began to commission architectural work. This therefore required architects to become more active in communicating with the rest of society, from clients and customer to builders and construction companies.

With modern technology now an integral part of every industry, architects can and must operate virtually with the rest of the design team. This requires constant communication and information exchange with clients, project managers, contractors and suppliers as well as public authorities.

It’s been a long time since an architect used a drawing board to create designs. Image source

The traditional role of the architect is now considerably different in terms of the potential for communicating their ideas. With large white drawing tables completely relegated to the past, architects are steadily progressing from 2D CAD drawings to spatial 3D modeling and virtual reality to communicate their ideas, and this looks set to increase as technology develops.

Is 3D technology the answer?

The benefits of 3D technologies are obvious; they allow for unparalleled architectural expression, creating an immersive experience for the client or guest without any physical limitations. This is a concept that is being explored in the Archhive: Architecture in Virtual Reality competition, in which participants are being tasked with designing a virtual exhibition gallery.

This architecture competition allows architects to work with any digital 3D modeling tools they choose to create the virtual reality's architectural spatial quality. 3D designs will then be used to generate the ‘Archhive’ as a new digital project (www.archhive.info) which is being planned as a large scale media project that will run indefinitely, launching soon after the completion of the competition.

Open architecture competitions

  • Closest Deadline first
  • Project competitions first
    Selected winning projects have the potential to be constructed
  • Ideas competitions first
    Experimental competitions with the focus on pushing the boundaries of creativity
project COMPETITION
Monte d'Oiro Wine Tasting Room

Design an iconic space for guests to enjoy the wines and the views of this Portuguese vineyard

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jan 21
Mar 03
Jun 05
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ideas COMPETITION
MICROHOME 2020 - Small living, huge impact!

Design a new concept of small-scale architecture with the second annual Microhomes competition

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 07
Sep 09
Nov 04
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project COMPETITION
Kurgi Observation Tower

Design an eco-farm observation tower in UNESCO biosphere reserve

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jan 24
Mar 06
Jun 08
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ideas COMPETITION
RE-Stock London Housing

Submit affordable housing solutions for the one of the world’s most iconic and expensive cities

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jan 28
Mar 10
Jun 12
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ideas COMPETITION
Melbourne Affordable Housing Challenge

Design affordable housing solutions for Australia’s fastest-growing city

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 16
Sep 08
Nov 03
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ideas COMPETITION
Prisons Redesigned!

Redesign and improve the way prisons work

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 18
Sep 10
Nov 05
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essay COMPETITION
ESSAY: The Architecture of Prisons

Submit your essay on prison architecture

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 19
Sep 11
Nov 06
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ideas COMPETITION
Pavilion Of Humanity: First Contact

How would you represent the best that humanity has to offer through architecture?

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 23
Sep 15
Nov 10
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essay COMPETITION
What is Sustainable Architecture?

Share your opinion on sustainable architecture in the open essay competition

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 24
Sep 16
Nov 11
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project COMPETITION
Yoga House on a Cliff

Design eco-friendly yoga house in a secluded Portuguese retreat

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

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Jun 25
Sep 17
Nov 12
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ARCHITECTURE COMPETITIONS

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