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How to brief an architect?

Before we can start on a design, we need to understand a lot of things:

a) about what you like!

Emotionally, we need to know what kind of architecture, shapes, materials, rooms, features, etc. you like (and dislike).

The easiest way is probably to send us a few dozen pictures of homes and elements you like… Copy images/links from our websites or others, paste them in a document or email, and email them to us. (screen prints often do not have enough resolution for us to really understand what you like).

The bést way is for you to open an account on Pinterest.com, and then create one or more “boards” where you can save/pin any images you like.

You can “pin” almost any image from any website to pinterest by “sharing” the picture from your device and then choosing “pinterest”.

On phones/tablets, just install the Pinterest app. On desktops, we recommend you get the “pinterest browser button“. This adds a little button to your browser which allows you to save/pin any image from any website to your pinterest in two clicks.

  • E.g. you can create one board for your favourite façades, one for bedrooms you like, one for landscaping etc. You can also add comments to each “pin” explaining what you like/don’t like in each image.

Once you have enough “pins”, you can “share” your boards with us.

As a starter, you can start by following the Modern Villas Pinterest boardshown here:

b) about what you need!

This is where you tell us what spaces you need, how important they are to you, what sizes and features you want for each of them, etc. etc.

To prepare for this, we have prepared a “briefing guide” which serves as a reminder of all the information we have to gather.

This guide comes in two parts:

a) the briefing “guide“, which contains the questions ánd some advice around them, to help you decide on the right answer for you. We recommend you print a copy of this, use it discuss it with your family, and use it to note down your own thoughts

b) the briefing “workbook“: a shorter version, which only contains the questions + answer – this is the copy you’d need to send to us.

You can download both parts on the below links (ask us for a password; this is for clients’ eyes only)

a) architectural briefing guide

b) architectural briefing workbook

c) about your building plot

Good architecture always follows the land. Of course, size, shape and topography (the slopes) of the land directly affect the shape of the house.

But a good design also takes into account:

  • sun orientation: depending on the orientation of the plot/house, the house should be adapted to optimize the amount of sun that gets into a house or the (covered) terraces. The “ideal” sizes of windows, and covered terraces depend on the desirable amount of sun for each climate.
  • prevailing winds: the design of the house should make sure you catch that nice cool sea breeze in summer… or avoid the cold winds on a nasty day in winter.
  • views: of course, key rooms should be positioned so that the beautiful views are “framed” nicely while potential eyesores are hidden out of sight
  • privacy: sometimes, neighbors can be a little too close for comfort, and the design of the house will make sure you get enough privacy in the right spots.
  • slopes: difficult slopes often lead to the most spectacular designs; but there’s an element of cost and usually, the closer one follows the natural terrain, the less money is “sunk” into the ground for foundations (we like to spend the budget on things you can enjoy rather than on foundations!)

So what do we need:

At the very least:

  • the location in Google Maps, Google Earth or similar
  • a plan of the plot – with indications of size and scale
  • if possible, a few pictures of the views in front, left, right… (with comments so we understand what is what) or a little 360º picture/video

and if possible:

  • a topographical survey including altitude curves
  • local building guidelines (how high can we build, what distances to respect from neighbours, how much can we build…)
  • a geological survey (which will give us an indication about the need for special foundations)

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