- Article by Michele Kearney
To diversify or specialise? It’s a debate that often comes up for many businesses, and particularly so for architecture and design practices. Taking a targeted multidisciplined approach, on the other hand, can be a bridge between the two.
The question of whether you should home in on a specialist area or take a broader approach is not confined to the design industry. What is unique for the design industry is the fact that there are so many typologies and areas that can become the focal point. Residential, multi-residential, technology, healthcare and education – from an architectural standpoint they all require certain nuances and insight for a design to be deemed successful. But by limiting a business to only a couple of these areas, there is a missed opportunity to share information and insight between one sector and another.
LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER
Although every typology requires its own unique knowledge and level of detail to be a success, there are methodologies and information that can be applied and shared. For example, in order to develop a successful and efficient aged care facility, design approaches from residential, healthcare and multi-residential facilities can be applied. While designers who have previous experience of hospital projects can easily bring their knowledge of the requirements and standards for medical machinery, this singular approach would forgo the insight that comes with a practitioner who has designed multi-residential work. Much like a multi-res development, an aged care facility also needs to factor in an economy of space while also ensuring basic human needs – ample natural light and a good site orientation – are met through good design. And finally, a good aged care design needs to borrow elements from the residential sphere. Once the practical medical needs and space economisation have been considered, one of the most important inclusions is to create a sense of home, which brings it all back down to a singular level. The individual needs to be considered and catered for in order to produce a successful outcome.
Ultimately it is this multidisciplined approach that leads to the most successful project outcome, and this methodology is not limited to architecture and design practices.
“As a business, having departments operate in isolation is a sure-fire way to lead to missed opportunities.” – Michele Kearney
BREAKING DOWN WALLS
Alongside a multidisciplined approach, collaboration plays an equally important role in design. This is evident in the architectural community, where a recent hot topic within business circles has been the debate around the breakdown of silos. As a business, having departments operate in isolation is a sure-fire way to lead to missed opportunities. Perhaps this is more imperative for the larger practices out there, but even the small-to-mid-size ones can take note – operating in silos only creates situations and teams that are lacking valuable insight.
Encouraging a collaborative office environment, as we have at Interstudio, sparks more opportunity for the accidental cross-pollination of work. The design of the space itself can also play a role in facilitating a collaborative office. Bringing together collaborative teams, where specialist knowledge is shared in a cross-disciplinary manner, helps to eliminate missed knowledge and ensures that all angles can be considered.
The takeaway here is that having a diverse team with specialist skills, coupled with a collaborative environment, fosters the best situation for successful design outcomes.
Read about shifts in workplace design here.