Journal entry 04 – Keep your options open

    Don’t narrow your options until you absolutely have to.
    (Don’t skip to the end!)

    At TAMOSPAYA one of the key ideas behind our design process and our work is to try to maximize and stretch the initial steps of the project and the configuration of the brief.

    It is at this stage when we can question our knowledge, question the current conventions and properly analyze how we behave, what we really need and how our spatial environments are responding to those needs. We believe that by doing this we can better address   our client needs and produce better spaces.

    We like to think we can somehow stop time at that initial moment when you are about to make your first decision, when you are about to say, “yeah I like that”. We want to stretch that thought process, make it visible and transparent so we can understand it, explore it and manipulate it. That’s the only way we can talk with your intuition, with your subconscious and try to understand it.

    Yes, we understand it might be exhausting, but in our experience, it’s worth it. Because by going through this process we are convinced we can come up with new and innovative solutions that better address what our real needs are

    Time and time again we see people jumping over that moment without even noticing, making a considerable amount of decisions in a millisecond without a second thought. You can call it “intuition” or “experience” and it can work, but we know there is something more, we know there are a lot connections happening in our brain at that moment and we feel we are missing options we do not realize even exist. We feel our brain is somehow betraying us because it is giving us answers to questions we haven´t formulated yet.

    As adults, we tend to have a preconceived idea of what things are. What a house is, what a car is, what a table is. These ideas have formed in our brain over time based on our experiences.  Then when the time comes we match those concepts with what we think are our needs. We put them together, we choose which of those ideas is closer to what we need and we decide that we need a new house or a new car.

    However, our needs and the concepts we associate with them are normally not the same. What we need is not a car, but a means of transport. A means of transport we can use anytime we want/need that would take us, maybe our families, and maybe some sort of baggage from point A to point B. It has to be available anytime we need it, it has to be reliable and it has to fit within our budget. We also have an expectation of how comfortable is going to be and how long we are going to use it for.

    Well, the answer to that need may very well be a car, but it can also be a membership to a car share scheme or the decision to use a taxi to move around. Depending on how much we need to use that means of transport it might be cheaper to use a taxi than to buy a car, or we might be better off buying a scooter for the day to day trips and hire a UTE when we need to move furniture.

    The same principles apply when designing a building. You say you need a house with 4 bedrooms but probably there are a lot of connotations implied in that very short statement. What are the bedrooms going to be used for? Are they really bedrooms or simply separate spaces? Do they have to be separated or connected? Can we make one very big bedroom? Or maybe 8 very small different spaces? Are you aware of how they are doing this in Japan? Have you considered all the options?

    Furthermore, do you really need a house or would you prefer two smaller houses within the same site? Maybe 4 pavilions?

    Above all, do we need to make this decision now? When do you have to make this decision? Can we introduce some other elements that will help us narrow the possibilities? What other factors can we incorporate that will help us make a decision?

    You have a 5 acre lot and on day one you have decided to have a rectangular shaped house on one corner of the lot. Does that feel right? Are you sure of this decision? Are you sure you have the right lot for you?

    Only when you have explored all the options you can think of, and you know all the factors that might influence the decision’s outcome and their impact, should you go ahead and make a decision.

    This might seem an exhausting process and sometimes is, sometimes you do not need to go to the furthest extreme, but this is our decision making process. Sometimes it happens very fast, but we still want to be able to analyses it and explain it.

    We believe this is the best way to address your needs, because at the end of the day, it is about your needs, not the solutions you think address your needs. It is about going to the root of the question and looking at it with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas.

    It happens to us every day, it happens to everybody, we do not stop to think on every decision we make or the reasons we do things one way or the other, but when you hire us, that is exactly why you hire us for. To stretch and develop the decision making process and ensure we achieve the right outcome, the one that answers the questions you didn’t know you had.

    Structure, materiality, construction, all these elements are also analyzed through the same lens. What is the goal of this building element? How can it address the requirements and perform at its best? What is the allocated budget? How does it fit with the overall concept of the building? That’s how we come to use rubber, or aluminium foam or structural glass.

    Not every project needs to go through this process at every stage, sometimes is about one key aspect of the project, sometimes is about several items of the project, but it is always about setting up this design process and keep asking ourselves the questions.

    We like the fact that we know the questions, but we do not know the answers at the outset, we do not know what the outcome is going to be, every project is a discovery.

    At TAMOSPAYA this is how we work. It is not about styles, looks or appearances, it is about questioning, it is about addressing your needs.

    We like to help our clients through the process, and above all we like clients that come with questions, not with answers.

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