This is a proposed addition for an existing 2-story brick house that was to add a new eating area attached to the existing Kitchen and a new Master Bedroom with a Master Bath and a closet and dressing area, within a fairly constrained envelope size. And the owner wanted it to resemble an orangery.

(the rest of the boards after the cut, along with some further thoughts about online competitions and freelance sites)

This was for a competition on a fairly new website called Arcbazar that takes a new approach to online methods for connecting clients and architects (or designers, generally). It’s an interesting site, and I generally like the approach they are taking. It would be good to see more non-residential projects there, though.

The existing house in my model is deliberately not very detailed, so that the addition will stand out, although the existing house is, fairly basic. To my mind, there are flaws with this project, but, for me, architecture isn’t something one buys like a loaf of bread. If the client likes the ideas in this, the project would be revised and further developed, to come closer to realizing the client’s goals for the project. Architecture is a process undertaken between the client and the architect, and looking at images and making revisions are part of the process. But that can be lost in a competition.

A lot of sites (such as Elance, to name one) have the client outline the project with a (often woefully inadequate) description of the job, and then invite a pool of people to bid on the project. Although there is a chance to provide further information and qualification in the proposal one submits, the whole platform is built towards getting the cheapest possible price. That, in turn, builds expectations among clients that one can get “plans for a custom 3,000 square foot house” for $250. It turns into a race to see who is willing to slit their own throat the deepest. And, when one is competing with providers from all over the globe, where you can get $5/hr CAD services, sometimes it’s not worth trying. There are some reasonable clients there, and one needs to be judicious in deciding which projects to address.

The Arcbazar model has its own flaws, since you are competing through competition entries rather than proposals. So there’s time sunk into projects. And, as is sometimes the case with larger competitions, flashy-but-impractical (or -impossible) can win out over reasonable. But, at least for now, I have a better sense of satisfaction in the Arcbazar projects I’ve participated in than I have about others I’ve been involved in.

Unfortunately, the Arcbazar website has lots of early-stage funkiness. It seems that there ought to be a way for an architect to promote their work in an on-site portfolio, but that doesn’t seem to be there, yet. So, for now, posting images on one’s own website seems to be the best way to share this work with people other than the client

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