Contemporary or Conservative Architectural Design

When I first sit down with a client for an initial meeting to discuss the project brief, I always try and get a feel for the clients’ requirements, both functional and aesthetical. Functionality, in my opinion, is the most important thing in any house design. After all, what’s the point in having a beautiful house if it doesn’t meet your functional needs, both present and future? All buildings should be designed with one eye on the future. Consideration should be given to expanding families, future access needs for the impaired and indeed future technologies. These are all part of the functional considerations that need to be taken in to account when formulating a design brief for a new house.

The problem I have noticed is that many clients seem to think that contemporary architectural design has to be sacrificed in favour of functional design. Many clients seem to think that it is one or the other and that in order to ensure functionality, they need to go with a conservative architectural design. This however is not the case. I can assure you that both functionality and aesthetics can be combined in order to provide a contemporary architectural design. Any good architectural designer will be able to provide you with a design which meets your functional needs AND is beautiful to look at both inside and out.

I am a firm believer that no two houses should be the same. Each house design should be unique and should enhance the landscape of the surrounding area. Therefore, it is important that every house design is well thought out and should include features which distinguish it from other houses in the area. This is where contemporary architectural design comes in to play. Contemporary design allows the inclusion of features which are unique and are unlikely to be seen in the house down the road.

I am regularly approached by clients who want to build the same house that their friend / sister / cousin is after building down the street, in the next town, in another county or wherever it may be. Another regular occurrence is clients who have found a design that they like in a generic house plans book or website. When I ask the client why they like this house the common answer is along the lines of ‘because it has four bedrooms, kitchen / dining and a living room and that’s what we want’. Or ‘because my sister has just built this house and we really like it’. Ok, let me just say that I have no problem with this and in fact I encourage clients to give me ideas of houses that they like. This gives me an idea of the clients’ tastes and gives me a starting point for my design. However, I am firmly of the opinion that no two houses should be the same. Therefore, nobody should build a house directly from a house plans book or website. Nobody should built the same house that their friend or family member is after building in another location.

Each house design should be unique to the location, setting and to the clients themselves. Contemporary design allows this to happen. Conservative design generally does not. Many of the houses built in Ireland over the past 15-20 years have been conservatively designed bungalows, dormers or storey and a half houses. The majority of them with brown timber effect windows (completely out of fashion now) and the majority of them left un-painted. The question I ask is what is unique about these houses. We drive past these houses every day and we don’t give them a second glance. Admittedly, some of these houses may be beautiful inside with fantastic interior finishes. But as I said previously, well designed houses should be beautiful both internally and externally as well as meeting the functional needs of the homeowners.

The good news is that beautiful contemporary unique house designs can be achieved whilst also ensuring form and functionality. The better news is that you don’t have to break the bank to design and built a contemporary houses. An efficient design and construction management process can ensure that contemporary houses can be designed and built for pretty much the same price as a conservative house design.

I would recommend anyone thinking of building a house to appoint an architectural designer. Not just a draughtsman who will copy the plans you like from a magazine. But someone who will take your ideas and develop them into a beautiful contemporary home which exceeds both your functional and aesthetical requirements.

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