According to Steve Coster, the new managing director of international design practice at Hassell Studio, the architectural sector has experienced similar levels of technological disruption as many other industries.
“Engaging with expanding digital capabilities and the resultant speed and power it affords design is important,” says Coster.
“There is huge unexplored power in this area that we think is increasingly important to deliver value to clients in the future – in terms of quality and efficiency during the design process but perhaps more importantly the power of technology to track and measure the impact and value of design over time.”
“We’re seeing an increase in people’s expectations of what a quality experience should deliver,” he says.
“The more life (or work) can be streamlined, automated, and instantaneously-shared, the more we need to ensure the places we live and work in are engaging, memorable and relevant.”
“For example, as people no longer necessarily need to be in the office to work, a great office that is uniquely local, human, emotive and experiential becomes a powerful differentiator,” says Coster.
Asked as to what most effectively lifts the aspiration of an architectural firm, Coster says it is the sheer quality of the individuals involved and their openness to ideas, perspectives and collaboration with others from within and outside the firm.
“This needs to be mixed with a culture of welcoming of ideas rather than control. But simultaneously a championing of extremely high standards, and not accepting mediocrity in any conversation, or on any design decision, large or small,” says Coster.
“Importance also needs to be placed on design process to create time and space to ask the right ‘big picture’ questions at the right points in the process. Whether that is early on in a project, or in the detail of its quality delivery.”
“Ideally, doing this together with clients and collaborators to collectively open up possibilities,” he says.
“Clients have broader objectives than just the design of their building or place – they are a means to a bigger end.”
“So, meeting these expectations needs a broader range of perspectives, more diverse skills and inputs from a broader range of people, and better connection between design concepts and the purpose of the project,” says Coster.
Coster also says that sustainability will be a prime focus for the industry.
“As designers and architects, we need to do everything we can to reduce our impact on the environment, and model better smarter ways of doing things.”
“We need to stay on the front foot in understanding this from a design, construction, and technology perspective, but we also need to be advocates for different ways of living and working in the city."
"Generous contribution to the public discourse, and proactive contribution to ideas – especially in relation to the shape and nature of our cities – should be a critical role that architects play,” he says.