Zaha Hadid died last week. She was a gifted architect, a design pioneer who also happened to be a woman, and who as such paved a path to better acceptance and respect of women in our field. Her work was remarkable with its distinct identity of nearly impossible curves and spiky overhangs. She was, as the term goes, a Starchitect. A designer of monumental, world-renowned buildings. Those buildings that mark a city, that create an event, that sculpt materials in and around human experience.
How does this experience affect the perception and practice of architecture at a local everyday scale? Since opening my own studio nearly two years ago, I have often been asked whether my services can cover such a small task as to renovate part of a home, or whether hiring an architect will necessarily lead to a project that you, the client, will not identify with.
My answer? Architecture is as much about the extraordinary event as it is about ordinary or everyday life. If we can agree on the idea that every human being is entitled to good design, then every project is a good starting point for a conversation. Renovating your kitchen because it’s too small? This might mean that we’ll look at issues such as lighting and effective use of space before we even consider tearing anything down. Building a chicken coop on a frail budget? This might imply that we’ll create a minimal design out of salvaged materials, while being particularly attentive to managing drainage and making sure that the coop is downwind from your neighbours. We can all surely think of something we need to improve in our everyday built environments. It’s the amalgam of these small interventions that make for better neighbourhoods and cities as a whole. No project is too ordinary or too small for good design.