What’s Pretty on Paper Gets Loud On-Site. - Concept Me

What’s Pretty on Paper Gets Loud On-Site.

August 17th, 2021 / 6 min read

Have you ever wondered why you can feel more at home and more comfortable in certain places instead of others? Your favorite coffee shop is your favorite for a reason. That particular lobby in your local hotel is a place where your stress disappears due to a specific element. Interior spaces with partitions, intimate booths and quiet cubicles reduce your anxiety due to certain designs and space layouts. It is in the nature of design (both architectural and interior) to orchestrate your experience of being within a place. 

As architects and interior designers, we at Concept Me aim to create this Zen element of existence and this quiet, natural interaction with the spaces we map out on our renderings and perceptual 3Ds.

We, at Concept Me, would also like to tell you that stress, anxiety and lack of Zen are what we experience while sculpting those spaces of peace! We are not complaining - we love what we do but, it gets really loud when you’re on site - trust us. It’s not all beautiful mood boards and neat graphics. 

The beautiful buildings you see across streets and the polished interiors you walk across were once empty ground where our construction collaborators laid brick upon brick as someone was screaming instructions in the distance. All you have to do is watch our Managing Director, Nina Parvaresh, visit our various construction sites - you’ll get the full image. 

Watch Nina maneuver Chaos in Jeddah here.

What very few aspiring architects and designers are taught in their academic pursuit of the fields are the facts that they need to break some rules, expect nothing to go as planned, shield themselves from the loudness of site work, prepare for the physical and time-consuming strain of construction, be calm in the face of tiresome and meddlesome clients and finally, to realize that the creative design is merely step one of the entire process.

The way Nina leads Concept Me and its projects is outlined by accurate time management and constant, clear communication. This process of communicated time organization is translated into a very constructive mode of collaboration. Whilst many architects and interior designers outsource the construction process to different teams - Nina has always understood the importance of knowing project managers, the construction staff and everyone on site. From the people presenting the 3D floor plans to those setting up the scaffolds to start cladding the structure, the level of communication must be consistent and similar. There should be no compromise when it comes to the tightness of the collaboration.

Despite all of that, the construction site can be a mess - so hold on tight and don’t assume you - as an architect/designer - are going to be in a nice ergonomic chair designing that skyscraper in an air-conditioned office all the time. The humidity will mess up your hair, you will be covered in dust and your favorite shoes (if you’re unwise enough to wear them on site) will have solidified cement soles. Enjoy. It’s a thrill of a ride really!

So, what can an architect standing in the blaze of the constant motion of a construction site always keep in mind?

1.    Remember that the plans will have to turn into physical and tangible installations. This gives you an understanding of the type of materials, the spatial dimensions and the physical reality that you will be dealing with on site. Instead of being overwhelmed, you will step onto that site as if you’ve rehearsed your actions.

2.    Ensure your communication flow is clear and consistent. Being on site is like participating in a very organic theatrical piece. The play is composed of many actors and stage managers. Thus, actions, requirements and amendments must be well-communicated prior to getting up on stage. This communication will include the requirements for the day, the material inventory, the installations due, the supplier’s delivery ETAs, the client’s visit amongst other requirements (from construction to final touches).

3.    Recognize that this organic field requires constant compromise and continuous amendments to the planning. Ironically, nothing is set in stone! When you get on site, you will recognize that some delays will need you to start on other sections of the project, that some space layouts will need to be amended, that the budget needs to be reworked, that weather conditions will have to forestall your cladding process, that your project manager is having an attitude problem for the day or that you yourself are not in the mood to entertain the client’s latest fad of an opinion. In that case, your planning will have to be adaptable and organic. Hold steady - we told you it’s a thrill of a ride!

4.    Ensure you have a secure and trusted reporting system. Again, input from all the actors, the make-up department, the costume department, the lighting department and the stage managers can get exhausting. As the person in-charge, you need to be aware and informed of all the occurrences on site/stage. This requires a detailed and streamlined reporting system. It’s tough trying to know everything - but as architects/designers we trust that you have a little know-it-all attitude in you…

5.    Keep your eye on the prize. One of the most rewarding feelings in the world is to step into a finished space. Be it a commercial headquarters or an eccentric dessert bar, a finished space is the true representation of your visualized imagination. It’s quite literally a vision come to life. So, when you’re battling extreme temperature, when you’ve stubbed your toe on a concrete block, when the crane crew is late and when you are inches away from a panic attack, count to ten and keep your concept at the forefront of your visual imagination. You know you love it…deep down…maybe…

Louis Kahn once said, ‘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.’ We are not sure what exactly is meant here, but that is the beauty of this abstract statement. In architecture and design, the process is never one that is streamlined and continuous without a flaw. There are obstacles and occasional screaming matches. There are gorgeous dinners over which creative plans are made. There are quiet days of hardcore planning and sketching. Overall, the end must be unmeasured by its functionality, beauty and meaning. Clearly, Louis Kahn knew what he was talking about.

From her decision of fabric cuts to her flying to meet with clients to her withstanding heat waves on site, Nina (Concept Me’s Chief Vision Officer) has made it her mission to tell stories and to tell them to the best of her ability. Telling a story starts from the process of planning, choosing abstract themes and modelled motifs. It continues with communicating to the team what is necessary, retrieving their feedback and amending as required. It then proceeds onto the executive techniques where everyone gets on stage and tries to give their best performance.

Keep in mind, it all may look pretty on paper - but trust us, it’s pretty loud on-site!

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