Relevance > Complexity

I hate it when I read unprofessional bantering/ complaining at different social media outlets as to who should build/ design/ sign documents. Where there are still bounds of laws, ethical standards and moral obligations as a professional, how are we to respond in a shifting market? This one would be quite a long post. I’ve tried to make it concise. Hopefully the ideas would be enough to get us started.
Hand-drawn tiles
the message, the messenger and the receiver: what gets across?
There’s so many things to be done and productive hours are wasted on polls, creating memes and bashing each other! When are we going to realize that we can all be a part of the solution if only we know how to communicate ourselves and our ideas better? In a highly connected, globalized and competitive world, how do we need to communicate as architects? Why is it that there seems to be a great misunderstanding between the architect, their clients, collaborators, allied professions and even the world that we’re moving in?
I’ll be pointing out three main problems with subtopics. Hopefully we’ll get to a better understanding after going through all of them. I want to start a conversation and a healthy dose of introspection, because it’s not always about them. The problem may also be us, professionals.
  1. People barely understand what we do.

    Most of the complaints I read/ hear about is the complete lack of understanding of what architects can, and really do. How does this hurt us?

    • Architects get relegated as “people who know how to draw what’s already inside their heads.” I know it’s frustrating to be told that it’s JUST DRAWING. Design is not just about the drawing or rendering. Design is about creating intelligent solutions, given the brief. What if I told you that it’s also part of the job to educate people as to how the product and the process works. We can’t just expect people to “respect the training we’ve gone through” off the bat. Not everybody knows the struggle.
    • We don’t know how to communicate our ideas. See the first thing we need to know before we deliver anything is what kind of audience are we speaking to? I know most of our work as architects are visual representations but we need to explain at a level the audience can relate to. If you’re going to dazzle someone with highfaluting words, you’re not wowing anyone who can’t understand it anyway. Our drawings won’t speak for themselves. We need to learn how to use other forms of communication to our advantage. Practice, practice, practice.
    • Essentially, some architects do not even know what their message/ brand is. It’s always easier to communicate something we clearly and fully understand. What story are we trying to get out there? Are the clients we have in line with what we believe in? I know we can’t always choose our clients but if economy is your main priority, don’t delude yourself to speaking otherwise. (touchy subject and I know there’s a lot more to this)
  2. We blame others/ circumstances.

    The universe does not owe us anything. We are responsible of what we make of ourselves. It actually takes a higher kind of thinking to understand that we’re not only to react towards our environment, but actually get to mold and make it. It doesn’t help to have a victim mentality all the time when you’re also part of the problem.

    • We put walls around us. The moment you box in knowledge, it’s not anymore considered knowledge. Architecture is essentially coming up with intelligent solutions. The problems we encounter are usually multi-layered, meaning it can be about economics, beauty and nation-building – depending on the scale at which we’re working on. A project will not come alive if it’s not multi/cross-disciplinary in process and execution. We cannot discredit other professions or demote them into something they’re not. We’re not making our light shine any brighter by putting other people’s light out. We need to talk to each other and truly collaborate. Let’s be honest: we can’t do everything without the other. We need our engineers, our marketing teams, our developers. We’re all part of the solution.
    • The world is becoming open-source. Fashion designers, actors, even amateurs can create spaces. Essentially, they can – just not like how architects do it. How can a licensed architect be relevant in a world like this? Titles, diplomas and PR aren’t going to cut it anymore. The game is changing and we have to catch up! I think first, we need to get over the fact that the world won’t always be ideal. There’s no formula to be successful but complaining about it won’t get us anywhere closer to our target.
  3. We need to rethink and re-package ourselves for this changing market. 

    • The profession needs to stand together and re-evaluate where we are, where our clients are, what our market is now like. We need to give time on research and actually sit down and talk (not just socialize).
    • The practice needs to evolve and grow up. Technological changes are exponential and it needs to work for the demands of a global market. We need to set frameworks that all architects can adhere to and understand.
    • The professional needs to be better-equipped. There is a need for constant growth and development. Strategizing and reevaluating how we can be better service-oriented professionals. Respect is something to be gained. Clients need to believe that we can actually deliver what we propose. Do the work.
It all boils down to relevance. What do I mean when I say it boils down to RELEVANCE? We need to cater to the demands of the market. What are they looking for? For starters, a relevant architect is a person who knows what they’re doing and why. Communication isn’t just about shouting out into the void. It’s knowing your purpose, fully understanding the context and content while allowing it to be well-received by your audience/ market. As a professional, s/he has reasonable fees and has the expertise behind the credentials. They know what their message is and effectively communicates that to their audience. They are well-adapted to technology and innovation based on research. Clients are going to find you, if you let yourself be found.

The battle of relevance starts now. It’s one thing to communicate; execution, however, is a different thing.

2 thoughts on “Relevance > Complexity

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