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Why Architects Need Precedents, And When Is It Too Much?

Nowadays we are greatly helped by all kinds of technological conveniences. One-click away from the most up-to-date ideas in your beloved social media: Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest - you name it. It can also come from your trip to some architectural destinations. Inspirations come in all forms, but they'll turn into a double-edged sword when it's too much.

Wait, isn't it good for us to have a lot of design precedents?

Indeed, collect as many precedents as you can find in the very beginning. This step opens your horizon, giving you new, up-to-date trends. You'll have a rich treasury by gathering as many ideas as you can. But remember not to overflow it - this will drown you. Spending too much time in precedent discovery cuts off your time for the design process. Remember, this is not a drill. Your clients are waiting for you.

Here's when you need to stop adding new ideas and start filtering what you already have. Take a thorough look at your pins, screenshots, whatever it is - and put aside all things that are irrelevant to the project. Start categorizing based on what you consider as the most important base of this project. For example, you might want to divide it based on space functions as it is the core of a residential project. By arranging things relevant to your categories, it'll be easy for you to move on to the next step by asking this question: is it necessary?

While relevancy means directly related or connected to a specific topic, necessary means something that is needed or required. To keep things in context, you need to communicate with your client. What are the things they found necessary? A private dining room? Grand staircase with a chandelier? A luxurious game room? Huge koi pond for good luck? Every client has their necessities, and architects should understand that. When the client's needs are well conveyed, we can set a suitable precedent and add some things that may not have been thought of before.

Now that the precedent board is filled with relevant and necessary things, it is time to make sure that they are applicable. The ultimate reason why architects need real precedents is to make sure that it is buildable. Here's an easy logic: if something has been made before, then it can definitely be made again. I'm not telling you to copy, that's not cool. Get inspired, then learn how to develop it according to your needs. This concept puts your feet on the ground because not all projects give space for an all-new experiment. You can propose some fresh ideas along the way while still considering their relevance, necessity, and applicability.

As this zine comes to an end, take a look back - has your precedent helped? Or does it overwhelms you?

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