To facilitate the discussion about design with friends, clients and students. and to counter the popular misconception that professional designers have a monopoly on design, I have adopted a definition, which enables me to demystify this situation that ‘designing is preparing a plan for change’.
As change is happening all around us all the time. everyone is obliged to deal with this change and. by my definition, is therefore a designer. This is the case whether you are planning a congenial family outing. designing a new kind of insurance policy or getting ready to rob a bank. The principle is the same only the technology changes. Our assumptions about the nature of professional knowledge. and the educational processes we have adopted. have resulted in the abrogation of our personal responsibilities over large areas of our personal lives to the ‘professionals’. Looking at our activities as architects through this filter results in some sobering insights. For a start. it explains why so many of our buildings appear to be unsatisfactory to the rest of the world. Central to this issue is the legal and insurance framework. which controls all our actions. The dominance of unrealistic risk management considerations makes it virtually impossible for the briefing. design and construction processes to be effectively developed in a balanced way. Instead of collaboratively looking at the ‘plan for change’ we are obliged to observe artificial operational boundaries, which conspire against everyone's true interests. particularly those of our clients and the community.
It is not surprising that. in spite of constant tinkering with the design and building process around the edges. our clients are still only getting 60p of value out of every pound sterling they spend.
This deficit could be reversed if our clients, the wider community and the construction team could become active partners in the preparation of the plan for change and be encouraged to see themselves as essential members of the design team.
Hans Haenlein www.haenlein.com