Much earlier in my training as a young architect in london, I had chanced upon Lord Norman Foster’s method which I had experienced, which was largely based on providing myriad options for our clients, in so doing we employ a technique wherein all criteria are being considered thoroughly and the result of which we propose that there are more than one way of designing let’s say, a building form or a facade, or where to put the entrance. Norman invented options in design. Indeed for the BBC project many years ago, I saw something like nearly 30 schemes being presented to the clients, as if to suggest, that if more were to be made and shown, they would eventually pick one. Not only do I find these “methods” today not so viable, it does seem a bit too overwhelming, exhaustive and more importantly, and much seriously, too big a trouble and also totally demanding on human and material resource, too intensive, and therefore meaning, quite wasteful. But why it is so is probably due to the fact that with today’s computer technology and it’s inherently increasing power and processing speed, we are to arrive at that pleasing yet elusive solution apparently in less than half the time that it took many years ago. Still I believe with more design expertise and intuition coming into the design process we arrive at a probable solution not because of anything else but the constraint of time and budgets. I personally would not have spent anything more than 3 months if I can help it, on developing design concepts or preparing scheme design, and in not more than six months, I would have liked to put everything in it’s best and concrete resolution, ready for detailed design and working drawings and construction. Yet still many more would think this is too rushed, not enough options, not enough study and so forth, I disagree. With some experience and foresight and anticipating the challenges, we can all do better buildings in less time these days if only we practise empathy and consider to cut costs, and time which eventually lead to using less resources such as people and paper, to start with. It is no wonder we find that companies like Foster and Partners get so much done in such a short space of time. They did those thirty schemes (options) for the BBC then, today they produce thirty different projects (ideas) in the same space of time that one firm might take to produce thirty “not so nice” ideas or options for one project. Both to the same quality ofcourse.


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