Design Equity Part 8: Programming Your Dream Home
Programming, or identifying and documenting program elements within a structure, isn’t a new thing. Most architects, however, rarely consider this pre-design process for residential design, and it’s a lost opportunity.
For Modal Design, programming is an important first-step in the design process. As architects the expectation is, of course, to bring our expertise and understanding of spatial quality and building construction to the effort. But our goal as a firm is to also bring fresh thinking and inventive applications to the process that clients wouldn’t necessarily think of. That translation from idea to form involves a program.
Our own process for developing programs includes either a series of one on one interviews or a written series of questions that clients can address at their leisure. No matter the size of a home, questions that address issues of size, location, function, need, indoor flow, and exterior aesthetic are all clues to a client’s (often unarticulated) desires. Our process is based on exploring how we can interpret a client’s desires and ideas, as well as other opportunities or constraints; the site and its characteristics, city requirements, etc., and our better projects are ones in which the client is willing to share as much as possible about their preferences and needs, and open-minded about the investigative process. The willingness to explore ultimately brings the entire team to a result that no one could really foresee.
Recent example of programming in practice: Large, complex projects regularly utilize highly detailed programming documents to outline specific room types, their sizes, adjacencies with other specific areas and potential for shared resources as a prerequisite for starting the actual design. For one of our client’s, a church, this process helped their planning committee identify the need for three separate structures rather than two and a desire for a truly multipurpose space that could function as a sanctuary, a community gathering space and provide income-generation if the project needed to be phased.