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HomeArchitecture“ARCHITERROR” Fears Every Architect Faces: The Nightmare of Samples and Material Selection

“ARCHITERROR” Fears Every Architect Faces: The Nightmare of Samples and Material Selection

So we recently decided to start a series on the dark side every architect faces. Hence the name Architerror. We’d like to share some of the challenges we face as architects. How we’re learning to confront these terrors and pick out the lessons from the mistakes we’ve made. Today, let’s begin with the first one.

Recently, I came across a very intriguing article. The kind that mirrors all your life experiences and makes you aware that you’re not the only one in the world who’s faced such a situation. I think something that all architects battle with on a daily basis is, indecision. To be honest, I think we’re all afraid we won’t be able to choose the right materials to suit our designs. If you’ve ever had a hard time deciding on samples and material finishes, I feel your struggle. One hundred and ten percent!

I can tell you for a fact now that there’s nothing as flustering as choosing A facade color from the different shades, pastels, whites, neutrals and natural hues on a Crown color chart. I cannot begin to emphasize how daunting it is to choose A RAL color for an aluminum frame from the famous RAL color chart. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to choose THE ONE from an array of samples which will best suite the design. I totally understand this pressure because a good material selection often takes a building from good to great.

I’ve been reading a lot on choice architecture off late. It’s basically the art of organizing your context to help simplify the process of decision making. In our field for example, choice architecture is influenced by the budgetary provision, the target market, the guarantee on the material/sample, the time required to procure and deliver it on site and reference images. These parameters already help you narrow down your options significantly. So that by the time you’re opening a catalogue you already know what shade, texture and look you’re aiming for.

For some reason, I also think experience helps simplify the process. Maybe it gets easier especially when you set certain defaults based on other projects you’ve done. Maybe a delayed response helps you combat an immediate impulsive decision such as giving yourself at most 3 options to be put up on site before a final decision is made. I also think it’s important to ask for a second opinion. Remember you’re already biased.

All in all, be kind to yourself you’re doing the best you can.

From the choice of a material , how it is used, the method of installation, and quality of workmanship for that parcel of work.

The writer, Naomi Wangari, is a Graduate Architect at Lexicon + Ion. She can be reached via email at naomi@lexicondesigns.co.ke