Basic Principles

How I approach an architectural project.

I decided to start off this blog by dedicating ​a few words to the principles which guide my work with architecture. It is also a useful introduction destined for those of you who might entrust the Atelier with a commission.

Why principles at all?

A question which may immediately come to mind is: why bother defining and adhering to principles at all?

Principles are a basic requirement to a project's success: they help chart a path which can be pursued to a satisfactory outcome. Should they not exist or be violated, the resulting building would reveal neglect and deficiencies.

Where do these principles come from?

Who defines them?

Certain principles have existed in architecture for a long time: they form a synthesis of lessons accumulated over generations. They are represented in various theories of architecture, some dating back millennia.

Others are a response to challenges arising nowadays, such as climate urgency, geopolitical threats, resource scarcity or monetary limitations. While recent and to a degree debatable, they are in practice of greater significance.

Then come questions of ethics: these are matters of free choice, but as a person concerned with truth and mutual regard, ethical considerations are paramount to my practice.

Finally, personal convictions and choices, and, to a very little degree, individual "style", although the latter is a reflection of the former.

Which principles guide my work?

At the very heart of my preoccupations lies the atmosphere of the finished building. The architect's role, as someone once put it, is to create a "theather for human life": the backdrop – the building – plays a silent but vital role.

Pertinance of the work in relation to its context and initial assumptions is equally of utmost importance.

Lack of compromise in respect to quality takes another worthy place in the list of basic principles I abide by. There exists a solution to virtually any set of constraints which might bind a project, even when the budget is restrictive.

Selection of decent materials is driven by the desire to create a sense of well-being, but is also a response to the need for sustainability and a display of love for nature.

A path to excellence?

However formulated (and I will elaborate on many of the aforementioned topics in subsequent posts), these principles should serve as beacons on a path to excellence, because – citing a saying in the Swiss military:

« Only excellence is sufficient. »
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