Design is more than arranging rooms in a floor plan, making a roof fit, or drawing facade options. Rather, it is a creative process and differs with each architect. For me, each project progresses through several distinct stages.
Gathering information for an 8-10 page written program is the first step. Discussions, using a questionnaire and pictures, help clients articulate the visions they have for their home. Factual topics are easier to establish such as site restrictions and room types. Others are subjective and more difficult to identify. Understanding why clients want something helps to distinguish needs from wants.
Formulating the design concept is the second and most elusive part of the process. This concept acts as a frame of reference or guide for all subsequent design decisions. The inspiration for this might be a special view or unique site feature and is described using a combination of words and sketches.
The final step is defining and giving physical forms to the program elements. This is an iterative process of selection and evaluation, using the concept as a ruler to measure the appropriateness of ideas. Involving the clients in each stage of the process helps them understand why decisions are made and how the design evolves to become their new home.