Architecture is a Craft

Architecture is a Craft

A craft can be defined as an occupation requiring a special skill. The skill of architecture is the ability to solve spatial problems. The specialty of that skill is to do so in an artistic/creative form that is conscience of the science of space and construction. Craft can also be defined as an activity creating things by hand. The activity of creating is design. Now what does all that mean?

Architects are spatial problem solvers. When solving problems through the vehicle of design, there are so many considerations to contemplate. For instance, an architect who is designing a school is solving the problem of the spatial need for education. Not only does the architect make sure there is adequate space, but he/she also must consider life safety, structural ability, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) best practices, constructability, spatial experience, etc. There is a craft in putting together the most effective adjacencies of space. A kitchen is most effective when it is located near the dining space. The craft is putting those things together while still separating the public versus private space. In residential circumstances, the craft could be designing those spaces to feel like one space regardless of the two functions.

A great architect is a 3-dimensional thinker and a multi-professional designer. Jack/Jill of all trades is a term that can describe what an architect is, but the smartest architect is one who embraces teamwork. One of the things I teach my students is that architecture is a profession whose success thrives with collaboration. The profession of architecture is as strong and respected as it is because there are many people that contribute to its success. There is a craft in putting together the perfect design team. Creating an environment for all those professionals to assemble their knowledge and creativity to create a beautiful space takes much skill and strategic planning. Each person who contributes to a design team must continuously perfect their individual craft of specialty to increase the value of their contributions to the collaborative effort.

One of the most fun crafts I have experience during architecture school is model making. There have been so many things I have learned during the craft of building scale models. Modeling is a great way to see and touch your design. It also gave me the opportunity to design in this 3-Dimensional activity. Even in model building, an architect must still consider scale, constructability and aesthetics. Concept model all the way through a finished presentation model are great forms of communicating progress and design intent.

There are different facets of craft in architecture, and they are many. Whether it is spatial problem solving, strategic collaboration or model building, this craft takes knowledge, skill and passion.