By Cray Shellenbarger
As we begin developing designs in studio we are taught to follow a concept. An understood and understated criteria is the “real world” modular system. We take for granted the constrictions of the measurements and proportions that are available. There are two approaches that are often taken here: Often we are instruction to either completely ignore these criteria or to build boxes. I have the belief that we should do something different. We need to embrace these criteria as part of a project context. Just as it has been said to embrace the codes as a positive, we should look at the modular parameters as helpful tools in decision making. I have found that projects with complex contexts are always more interesting to develop. In fact, I would say that they are easier projects to complete and ultimately lead to better results. It is always helpful to have contextual criteria. This can include codes, given materiality, culture, climate, site issues, etc. these criteria can and should be viewed as decision making tools. If, as architects, we train ourselves to look at the contextual criteria, our projects will inevitably be better projects. At the same time the design process will be a more pleasant one. Also addressing as many of these criteria will make a strong design. This does not mean that the solution must be complex. However, the process in which that solution is derived should most likely be complex. Some of the above may be viewed as moving in the opposite as design thinking. This is not the case. In fact, I would argue that these types of issues are part of what separates an architect from an artist.