What is good design? It’s a simple question that’s hard to answer. It doesn’t refer just to whether a building looks attractive. It also means being fit for purpose and built to last.
Unlike money, good design isn’t directly quantifiable. However, it is possible to identify good design. It is about being fit for purpose, well built and pleasing to the eye. A well-designed building therefore combines:
- functionality - does it work?
- firmness - will it last?
- delight - does it look good?
This approach was first adopted by the Roman architect Vitruvius and still applies today. It is the basis for approaching impartial analysis of building design, such as design review, and industry tools that attempt to measure good design, such as the design quality indicator.
Other factors contribute to modern judgements about whether or not a building is well designed.
Sustainability and good design increasingly go hand in hand. The resources required to produce a building - labour, finance and materials – are coming under ever more scrutiny as global environmental resources diminish and the impact of carbon emissions grows. By their permanent nature, buildings can set in stone wasteful activities within that building, such as unnecessary energy consumption.
The success of a building can also be judged on how ‘inclusive’ it is. That means that it should be able to be enjoyed by all the people it was built for, so thinking from the outset about who is likely to use it, and their needs, is integral to any design process.
More about good design
- Recognising good design
You can recognise the features of good design and understand what makes a good building design.
- Design quality as requirement
Good design is required by government policy, which has a direct effect on how your building will fare in the planning process.
- Three tactics to get good design
You will need to get advice on good design, monitor design quality and ask questions about your building’s design throughout the process.
Example of why good design is important
You must be clear:design quality does not have to equal expense.