Design and efficiency, the spiral of innovation

What is architecture? This is one of the most frequently asked questions about our profession. In many cases, we tend to use the most classic definitions: we speak of Utilitas (utility), Firmitas (firmness) and Venustas (beauty). Of all of them, the term Firmitas (firmness) represents the need to build stability and “no change” with firmness.

However, we live in constant, deep and quick transformations of society. Thus, in the work sector, there are interdisciplinary organizational structures, far from the classic pyramidal organization charts that condition the design and creation of spaces.

In our profession, we are in a phase of “liquid architecture”, in which the speed of change in society translates into the difficulty of designing fixed spaces that will be permanent over time. It is a necessary concept to deepen, reflect, innovate and evolve.

We don’t want to give an answer to the term “what is architecture”, but we would like to provide a new collective and transdisciplinary vision of contemporary architecture in order to have a collective, open and thoughtful debate on the need to innovate, to be disruptive and to innovate in the present and future context.

Transversalize our own vision and the spiral of innovation.

The training and stability of architects has changed and we are moving closer to specialisation in different sectors. When we talk about “Facility Management”, we must not only be effective, but also give our own point of view and that of other experts working on the same transversal project.

Architecture is holistic and polyhedral. It´s necessary, to create work teams, like the layers of an onion, always put the user/consumer at the centre, to create new synergies and integrate new experts according to each project.The technique of design thinking is the one that should allow us to connect from scratch in these different layers of knowledge.

In this way, instead of talking about the project cycle, we should be talking about the innovation spiral: a kind of endless, non-linear, win-less game in which everyone wins and knowledge grows. In this way, every time a new project is integrated, new questions and new answers are added.

This text is an extract from the article “Design and efficiency, the spiral of innovation”, written by Miquel Àngel Julià, partner and director of strategy and design at Grup Idea. The text is part of the book “Architecture and Facility Management”, which includes articles from 37 professionals in the world of facility management. This is the first book produced within the work group of the Col-legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC).