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Design through Dialogue: A Guide for Architects and Clients



Design through Dialogue: A Guide for Architects and Clients

Karen A. Franck, Teresa von Sommaruga Howard

ISBN: 978-0-470-87071-6 February 2010 208 Pages


Completed projects receive more public attention than the process of their creation and so the myth that architects design buildings alone lives on. In fact, architects work with a great many others and the relationships that develop, particularly with clients, have a significant impact on design. Design through Dialogue explores the relationship between client and architect through the lens of four overlapping activities that occur during any project: relating, talking, exploring and transforming.

Cases of design and collaboration range from smaller scale retail, residential and educational projects in the US, Sweden, the UK and the Pacific Rim to large institutions, including Seattle’s Central Library, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem and the Museum of New Zealand. Material is taken from interviews with clients and architects and research in psychotherapy, group dynamics and design studies. Throughout the book aspects of process are linked to design outcomes to illustrate how architects and clients collaborate creatively.

Chapter 1 Introduction 9

A Dialogue between Client and Architect 10

A Relational Approach 15

Our Dialogue 18

Thank You 20

Chapter 2 In Dialogue 25

Client and Architect 25

Briefing and Designing 36

The Brief and the Design 41

Use and Form 46

Inner Worlds and Outer Worlds 51

Chapter 3 Relating 61

Beginning the Relationship 62

Creating a ‘Good Enough’ Relationship 70

Maintaining a Facilitating Environment 81

Chapter 4 Talking 93

Creating Meaning Together 93

Talking in Groups 102

Attending to Silence 111

The Words Matter 115

Chapter 5 Exploring 129

Exploring as an Attitude 130

Exploring as Actions 136

Deciding What to Explore 146

Chapter 6 Transforming 165

Transforming at the Human Scale 166

Looking Beneath the Surface 169

Treating Type as a Question 172

Scrutinizing Form and Use 182

Transforming through Dialogue 187

Architects and Clients 196

Bibliography 198

Index 205

Image credits 208

"A thorough guide to getting the client-architect relationship right." (Grand Designs, March 2010)

"...courageous explorers of what architectural educators often ignore: the psychological and aesthetic dynamics implicit in client–architect dialogues." (, March 2010)