Designing with Intent – Leaving Your Fingerprints Behind

by Digby Hall

I was lucky enough this past weekend to have a tour of the new Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong, just south of Sydney. The project is targeting a Living Building Challenge certification, and is the result of a design interrogation that has gone into extraordinary depth.

As I was hearing about how the design unfolded, about the investigations that had to take place for every potential material, the careful balancing of systems and services, and the richness of the detailing, I was struck by how much care had been taken in creating this building.

sbrc

We are under constant pressure to get things done quickly and to meet budget, and at times it can be easier to fall back on what we’ve always done. It’s easier. The SBRC has a poetic logic about everything – it’s hard to imagine why anything would have been done differently – but to get there required the entire team to be aware at every moment, and to not fall back on ‘easy’.

And this is my Monday Motivation for the week; it was clear to me that this project was full of what I think of as ‘fingerprints’ – the thought and care and intent of the client and design team in every design outcome and every detail. Nothing had been left to chance or to ‘easy’. The result is an environment that feels so much more human and comfortable and calm, and it gently vibrates with the energy that has been invested in the built outcome – it has fingerprints.

As we go about our business this week, let’s be aware of when we fall back on ‘easy’ and aim to put forward ‘better’ options whenever we can. Let’s see how many fingerprints we can leave behind in our work.