I was having a conversation the other day with my sister-in-law; a physician working in a rural community where their clinic is over capacity. She is on the committee that is looking to renovate the facility and has been given the responsibility of compiling ideas for the new design.
My first reaction was (and I’m thinking this in my head):
“This is crazy!! Why is a doctor trying to redesign a clinic?? I wouldn’t take out my own appendix!”
My more diplomatic response was “have you considered bringing in professional designers to look at your space?”
The conversation made me think about the ‘Do It Yourself’ society we live in. Now don’t get me wrong, I like to DIY with the best of them (I’m a Mennonite girl, so if I can get it done without outside help, I can save some money…), but I’ve slowly come to realize the value in utilizing the expertise of others. The reason why we have experts is because the problems we need to resolve are more complex than we realize. And often the result of doing it wrong results in wasting our time, money and feeling frustrated when the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped for.
The built environment, for example, is extremely complex. There are physical, social, emotional and mental elements to consider. Not everything is tangible, but in the end the intangible has a massive effect. How will people use the space? How do you want them to move through it? How do you delineate public and private areas? How do you accommodate for individuals with physical limitations? How do you want to direct behavior? How do you want people to feel? How do you design spaces that contribute to wellness? Believe it or not, these are some of the questions that professional designers ask when starting a new project. And if we’re not, then we should be.
Food for thought.
“A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasured.”
– Louis Kahn