Emotional Roller Coaster: Navigating the Highs and Lows of Architectural Design

While pondering on the emotional highs and lows of architectural design, I couldn’t help but agree that designs can sometimes be depressing.

It can also be mind troubling, especially when you insist on all your ideas being unique, iconic or out of the box.

Designing is a process and hopefully a cycle. It starts from the brief through to your final designs and even during construction.

During this period, some architects may experience a general emotion sequence of the following:

Ecstasy⇒ frustration⇒ excitement⇒ depression⇒ frustration⇒ excitement & anxiety⇒ pride

The purpose of this article is to increase awareness of the emotions architects and designers experience while designing.

Hoping that the knowledge of your emotions will help you manage them better.



This starts when you get that great commission with a big client. You become excited because you have gotten a rare opportunity.

To showcase your ‘not seen before’ architectural ideas as a young architect.

Or as an established Architect, to once again prove yourself.

You are also excited about the positive impact this project will have. Which may be on the society, the profession, your career and maybe your finances.


The next stage after getting a commission is the ideas stage. Here, you strive to through your designs, wow the client.

However, as most architects know, great design ideas come when you least expect them. Therefore, making this phase is difficult to control.

As a result, extreme frustration can set if there is a prolonged struggle to come up with that perfect design.


Suddenly, while brainstorming or possibly while asleep, the light bulb comes on.

You stumble on that perfect idea.

You become excited and can’t wait to present this idea to your client. The possibilities and benefits you envisioned ab-initio begin to look attainable.


You present this perfect idea/design to your client only to be told, NO.

Then rejection and depression set in. Sometimes, you may doubt your capacity to deliver.

Fearing that if this should continue you may be decommissioned. Alternatively, the client may lose faith in you and suspend or reassign the project.


You return to the drawing board and just like in the previous stage, start struggling again to come up with something truly great.

Besides frustration, moodiness may also set in, which will reflect in the way you relate with your loved ones and colleagues.

Excitement and Anxiety

When you finally stumble on an even better design you are tentatively excited. Later, anxious because you are not completely sure how the design will be received.

You can only hope this time it will impress the client and be fully accepted. Also, sleep loss due to worry is common at this point.


When you finally present the revised design and you are told, YES. Nothing can equate to that happiness you feel.

You suddenly feel increased self-esteem, joy and pride in your work, at least until the next job comes and the cycle repeats itself.

You can also read my article; thinking outside the box for architects.

We look forward to reading your comments on the above topic.

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