The world the Architect once knew is shrinking. Many new professions or should I say ‘sub-professions’ are springing up. These are taking a bite from the big cake of architecture. Thus, architects need to reinvent the architectural firm.
It is therefore imperative for young and upcoming architects to devise a unique method of staying relevant. especially in today’s ever-shrinking world of architecture. This certainly should be at a low cost.
If as a young architect, you have set out with the mindset of out staging the big and established firms. You need to prepare for a great battle. So how then can architects reinvent architectural practice today?
There are many reasons for establishing an architectural firm. The primary among them is to receive commissions and successfully execute them.
So when you start with this in mind then you might see clearly where it is you want to go. If an architectural practice can have traditional setups then it can also have contemporary setups. Traditional setup is what we see around mostly.
This is where a firm is structured to have an office location, architects and support staff, and projects. Now if you go back to what I said earlier. The purpose of an architectural firm is project execution. For a young architect, this should be his too.
The rest are serious costs for a young or upcoming architect. How then can you re-invent architectural practice?
Some call it partnership others call it outsourcing but what is important is the concept. Remember you have no office to accommodate partners.
You can collaborate with anyone as long as they are important in achieving your overall goals.
As a firm seeking global or national relevance, you should know that there are several specialized fields. these include accounting, law, visualization, IT, etc, you need them. In collaboration, you can outsource this aspect of work to a specialist with a pay-per-job arrangement. Here, you only pay for their services with a commission on projects and save yourself unnecessary overhead.
In this way you have a great network of experts… imagine you had to hire every one of them.
Information Technology and Latest Software and Hardware
I wouldn’t need to say much on this because you have already embraced IT. Without IT you wouldn’t be online to read this blog.
It ranges from the use of computers, smartphones, software, the internet, e-mails, and social media. Also Autocad and Revit and other CAD and BIM tools in architecture. With good IT knowledge and skill, one person can do the job of several people. To stay ahead of the competition, therefore, your method must be cutting-edge.
The internet is a resource you must use; there are billions of pieces of information there waiting for you. Also, you need to train and re-train yourself in the use of modern software designed to make practice easy.
If you still run around always making presentations or receiving briefs and not via email or your design with AutoCAD LT or 2000 and make architectural models with any version of AutoCAD, then I am talking to you. You should try a newer version of Autodesk AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup, Photoshop and even 3D max for rendering and Animations. All required here is just you and your laptop, not an office.
By the way, some of this software have apps for tabs, so presentation is a lot easier today saving thousands in unnecessary printing cost.
The idea of 3D printing is becoming mainstream in architecture today maybe not locally but you will need to embrace that.
Getting your work out there
One of the killers of an architect’s enthusiasm is the limitation on the advertisement of architectural services. Though this applies to other professions including medicine and engineering.
In Nigeria, this is an area that is fueling the rise of quacks. Quacks obey no law and are under no regulatory body.
Thus, they paste spurious adverts at every corner of the city getting the notice of unsuspecting prospective clients who later get short-changed.
Anyway, this is not meant to discourage young architects but to let them know they still have a fair share of the market. But, you just have to think creatively. Do you have a website or a blog to showcase your architectural works and services? How well have you taken advantage of social media? How well do you network?
Do you attend professional gatherings and participate in exhibitions (by the way you can organize one for your works)? The concept of online exhibitions is an idea you can also look into.
Something you must always keep in mind is creativity and innovation. That should be in all phases of your practice.