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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 7 – OVERCOME WITH DOUBT

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As many husbands will tell you, it can be very difficult to know when your wife is unhappy about something. But as all wives will declare, it can take a jack hammer to the head to make your husband notice how you are feeling. After years of marriage I know I should have picked up on it sooner, Ange was noticeably unconvinced about the folly. She couldn’t get her head around the sheer purposelessness of the structure nor the need for it to be so vastly different from the other two pavilions. While I loved the uniqueness of the structure, Ange simply saw a flamboyant, costly storage shed.

Ange’s doubts compel me to consider my own thoughts about the folly, and upon realising how important it is for the look and atmosphere of the site, I know I need to persuade her to love it too.  Eventually, through my passion and enthusiasm for the folly and what it brings to the site, Ange comes around. Although not entirely convinced, she is more enthusiastic and can understand why the purposelessness is exactly the point.

Unfortunately, examining that one structure so closely makes me consider the design of the two pavilions.  In insolation the buildings take on the form of a simple utility building, they may be accomplishing all we need but they look like a boring box. In order to create an architecturally designed box that looks and feels like something other than a box, the detailing must be incredible. The simpler the overall design, the finer the details. The finer the details, the higher the cost.

Second guessing the architecture, I play around with our original design. Tinkering with the roof pitch, I am reminded of our desire to create a campsite atmosphere within the site. By creating asymmetrical gable roofs and altering the way the roof pitches address each other, the entire feel of these pavilions change. I explore the scale and although the form maintains simplicity, it is adapted to become a three walled building with the fourth wall starting at the base and continuing up to form the roof. Similar to a one-sided A frame. The scale mimics that of a tent, lying at the edge is comfortable but standing would not be possible. I’m happy with the design and the beautiful rhythm we create throughout the building, incorporating texture, colour and feeling.

However, the more time I spend on the design the less happy I become. I sway back and forth between three different schemes, spending an unhealthy amount of time looking at the 3d digital models of each one. The doubt creeps in, I challenge every single decision up until this point and I know I need help otherwise we will never move forward.

My colleagues Don Roy and Craig South were the obvious choice, I trust their opinion and know they will be honest with me. I share the design with them individually and
go through the positives and negatives of each, clarifying my doubts and concerns. Ultimately, through the expertise of my colleagues, I can see the opportunity the forms create. I can let go of my fears about architecturally going down the wrong path and trust my design once more. Stepping back and looking at the big picture, I can see my design is the best possible way to resolve the issues of the site and provide us what we want.

These doubts challenge me as an architect, if a client had asked me if the design was the best for the site I would respond with no hesitation, no draw of breath, absolutely YES! Clients need to know I am confident in my design and that I believe it is the best possible outcome for their site, but when designing for myself I lost that confidence. My family and colleagues trusted my designs but I couldn’t until they had convinced me. I pride myself on the ability to make good decisions but I couldn’t trust myself, however once convinced, it was like the flick of a switch, I feel settled with the form and am ready for the documentation phase of the project.

Although, I have been dreading this phase from the minute we selected Hanmer as our location. The Hurunui Council is very particular about the look of the township, they have strict height restrictions and specifics around roof pitch. Will they see our little yellow skyscraper as a figurative middle finger to their rules and regulations? Or, as we hope, will they jump on our design bandwagon and embrace the notion of what we are trying to achieve?

Published on Friday, January 27th, 2017