Back to the Basics

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Words of wisdom from Leonardo da Vinci. This weekend we are following up on our individual presentations for the design of our garden pavilion by taking a retrospective step back to the basics – to simple site and pavilion layout. We’ve spent the last week doing schematic designs for the pavilion. This has allowed us to get our creative juices flowing and explore innovative ways to bring a garden pavilion to West Ashley. But now it’s time to purify those ideas into something straightforward, clear, and, above all else, functional.

Pavilion proposals
Pavilion proposals

This morning the five of us put our heads together in studio and reflected on our five individual designs – what was working and not working in each. We boiled our ideas down into their core concepts, subtracting the inessentials and reducing the pavilion proposals to their simplest terms. We then extracted the best ideas from each and put them on tracing paper. Additionally, the five of us had a productive conservation about what we called “the basics” of a successful piece of architecture, such as effective user circulation and space proportions. And I think we would all agree that this was amazingly helpful! It allowed us to distinguish what was truly necessary in our pavilion to satisfy the needs of its future users.

Our brainstorming session allowed us to derive two simple, function-based layouts from our five very different ideas for the pavilion. Both of these are built around the idea that the architectural solution should not be more complicated than the problem.  These are concepts we’ll be pursuing during the next week in studio, as we break off into groups to give the design of our pavilion another shot. Our hope is that creativity will bloom naturally out of a few simple concepts.

Website diagram

So maybe simplicity is the road to architecture that does its job well. Maybe keeping things uncomplicated and manageable, architecturally, is the best way to serve our clients. It makes me thinks of one more quote, by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer – “One should use common words to say uncommon things.” Creativity, at its purest form, is using simple components in an inventive way. This is an important lesson for us, going forward into the next few weeks.

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