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The Importance of Feasibility Study

What is a feasibility study?

When you go to a dentist, the first visit is a diagnostic exam. Its purpose is to determine the condition of your teeth and the treatments they might need. As a result, the doctor will then give you a quotation and description of the work.

Now, when it comes to building a house (or renovating it), people often make the mistake of jumping in and hiring a contractor or a designer without getting informed of the value the designer has to offer. In fact, many are quite unaware of having such an option, let alone how to conduct it. 

Before hiring an expert, you can do the preliminary study and get a detailed picture of your upcoming project. This is what we call the Low Consultation Commitment, or feasibility study. In a way, it’s no different than a diagnostic visit to the dentist. After you receive the report, you have a much better vision of what to expect and how to move forward. Consequently, you define the right direction for starting your journey.  

I have several clients who chose to do an LCC with me first, which helps them start the process adequately informed from the beginning. The information that we offer in the LCC provides all the necessary knowledge the client needs in order to take the following steps of their project with confidence and clarity.

Feasibility Study for Construction Project

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Feasibility studies must be undertaken in the very early stage of a project. They are particularly needed when a project is large or complex, or there is some doubt or controversy involved regarding the proposed development. Feasibility studies also involve specific requirements, such as environmental impact assessments.

Feasibility Study’s Purpose

  • Determining the viability of the project
  • Identifying all feasible options.
  • Assisting in the project documentation development, including business case, strategic brief, or project execution plan.

Large projects usually require at least several different feasibility studies on various expertise. They commonly include: 

  • Allowable floor area
  • Environmental impact assessment 
  • Setbacks
  • Budget analysis
  • Assessment of the existing facilities and their utility
  • Height restrictions
  • Solutions to accessing potential sites
  • Servicing strategies
  • Options for improvement
  • …and other

The more structured is the presentation of assessments, the easier it will be for a prospective client to decide whether or not, or how, to proceed to the next stage. For that reason, the format should be comprehensive and accessible.
You can book your free 15 min. call with an expert here

Why is Feasibility Study Important

cafe design
cafe design

A proper architectural feasibility study will consider all of the proposed project’s aspects, and allow the clients to understand and test the viability of the project before undertaking any real major investment. In other words, it needs to answer the big questions in order to support the decision-making process.

Undertaking a feasibility study allows testing of the development idea in order to find the weak spots, sideways, and space for improvement. The study takes into consideration all factors that may be directly or indirectly associated with the project. In a way, it determines the proper focus direction for the development. 

An architectural feasibility study covers various aspects of the project with different approaches determined by development objectives. It starts with a detailed evaluation of the site’s suitability and a budget estimation based on quantifiable construction costs. Still, the final result comes from asking and answering all the big questions. For that reason, an architectural feasibility study is, more or less, a guarantee that a project is viable in most -or all- fields.

The Answers It Can Provide

  • The chance to have the planning permission granted
  • What to expect regarding the construction costs
  • What to expect regarding operational costs
  • Alternatives, and possible more economical options (renovation or new construction)
  • All the non-negotiable issues that may affect the project viability
  • The levels of risk involved in the investment
  • The expected deadline for the completion of the project
  • When is it likely to generate a profit, if any is expected
  • Parties, consultants, and engineers involved in the project and their timeline to present their services
  • The questions that come with securing necessary funding from banking institutions or availing of any grant aid available.
  • A road map that explains where to start and where to finish the project

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the feasibility study can unveil a necessary financial reality check for investors. It answers the questions needed to avoid the dangerous traps, so the investors can withdraw before wasting money on projects that are not viable.

How to Conduct a Feasibility Study

Vancouver remodelling
Vancouver remodelling

Prior to making a feasibility study, we meet with the clients. Firstly, we learn about their needs and ideas through a discussion. Secondly, the next step is to visit the site for an initial assessment, followed by preliminary concepts. After we establish the proper base, we use it to explore the feasibility, analyze all costs, and complete all surveys, drawings, and accompanying reports. The preliminary design, which is a part of a feasibility study, will then have to be revisited in order to confirm that the project is economically viable and approved by the planning authority.

At the next step, the preliminary designs are typically presented to all relevant stakeholders for further cost estimations. 

What Should a Feasibility Study Determine

  • Cost-efficiency
  • Correctly recognizing and addressing all issues
  • All project objectives defined and tested
  • Building structure
  • Funding options
  • Set achievable targets
  • Risks evaluation
  • Alternatives (each party in a household are in the same boat, if not how can we find a common ground?)
  • Compromising, what and how much is the tolerance?
  • Conclusions and recommendations 

The Cost of a Feasibility Study

On average, a feasibility study cost ranges in the neighborhood of $1000 to $2000 (or more), depending on the project’s complexity. The final price entirely depends on your requirements and how detailed you want it to be. Each client is unique, and every project comes with its own set of considerations. Consequently, each feasibility study can be tailored to fit the cost requirements. 

Always have in mind that the feasibility study can prevent all costly mistakes that come from lack of proper information and impulse decisions. Therefore, investing in a reliable, comprehensive feasibility study is an investment to savings.

What you get in return is the clarity of your options and the value you will receive from your designer.

At MyHomeDesigner, we put at your disposal our extensive experience in conducting reliable architectural feasibility studies for various projects. We develop preliminary proposals and use them to define the key question and determine accurate, specific answers. Sharing the ideas and knowledge will help you navigate through the preparation process and get a clear picture of what precisely you are getting into. 

Start your self assessment here, and book your time with our designer here.

What is the job of an Architect? Is every Architect a Designer?

What is an architect’s job anyway? Is an architect a designer?

Like medical physicians, dentists, and lawyers, architects’ profession is to serve the public interest. Our job is to follow regulations and make sure to design the buildings in a safe manner that will not compromise the occupant’s well-being.

But wait a minute, is that the job description of an architect?

Many years ago, most of the world’s masterpieces were designed, coordinated, and constructed by one architect. The architects in charge had many apprentices to help them along the way. But along with technological advancement came the need for other professionals such as structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, geotechnical engineers, civil engineers, interior designers, building envelope consultants, building code consultants, building technologists, environmental consultants, landscape architects, and more. All of them have a role today in building design and construction.

In other words, a comprehensive team of consultants now have to go over the task of designing a building, the job that used to be done by one person. 

I want to remind you that once upon a time, architecture was a combination of technology, functionality, form, and art. Most people considered architects as technological artists. Architects were creators whose art was bound to last for hundreds of years. Unlike other artists whose art is passive, impossible to experience by all senses, architecture was a livable art to feel, experience, and flourish. 

Office design vancouver
Office Design Vancouver

So, IS every Architect a Designer?

The reality is that a good architect has to know all of the above. In order to be able to run a successful business, an architect has to master the logic of the mechanical system, heating and cooling, electrical, the building technology, and building envelope. Then come the zoning and building codes and the ways to keep the building safe from fire and water damage. Furthermore, an architect is also the manager. S/He has to run the team of office employees and HRs, possess the knowledge of marketing, and make sure the clients are happy and satisfied.

Really, Aryo, only that much? No, not even nearly. Then we have the skills to conduct the feasibility studies with the clients, making sure the end product is suitable for each client’s needs as well as the codes. The project has to fit the client’s budget yet to look as beautiful as possible. Does it meet the local market trend? The architect then has to make sure the municipalities will approve the documentation submitted. That involves a lot of communication.

An architect never stops learning. Learning about the general contractors and their expectations of management. Learning the software to design and prepare design development and working drawings, presenting, and above all running business management. Keeping up with education to fulfill the associations’ duties and fulfilling the annual learning units!

Oh, yes, and the architect should be the designer of the artistic looking buildings.

What Is the Problem?

The problem is that not too many architects are able to be an architect and a designer at the same time. What does that mean?

When our generations’ fresh minds leave university to enter professional life, they come across many hurdles. Each educational institution focuses on a different aspect of architecture. While some set the major goals on technological aspects, like construction challenges (what they now call a building technology), others prefer the artistic part of the work. 

When fellow students graduate from the faculty of architecture, they hear that, in order to call themselves “architects,” they need to register with the architectural institute of the country, province/state. 

That means they have to go through many hours of training and work in different architectural firms. They must gain a lot of experience and write many exams to make sure they meet the criteria to be able to practice “Architecture.” (similar procedure for immigrant architects) But there’s something many find out after getting registered.

After a couple of years of internship and passing the exams, they became a registered architect, yet learned how NOT TO DESIGN rather than becoming creative masters!

The building industry, unfortunately, is regulated by lawyers and left-sided brain people. It’s disregarding the artistic flair and beautification of the buildings for the purpose of bare function and safety. That’s why architecture becomes a commodity rather than a carrier. The architectural institute is a watchdog to ensure that a registered architect is the one who submits all building applications.

Most clients who want to build a house, a multifamily building, or a mixed-use building, approach the architect simply because the permitting authority obligates them. They aren’t looking to hire the architect’s creative mind but rather need someone to put the stamp on the drawing and get the building permit.

sunshine coast modern homes
Sunshine Coast Modern Homes

What Makes an Architect a Designer?

Architecture is part art and part science. As an art, it’s a channel for creative expression that affects the whole society. It allows them to change and improve their environment in many unique ways. As a science, architecture takes care of society’s functional needs, creates various living spaces, and covers different lifestyles by using modern technological advancements and techniques. 

An architect should be able to practice both functional and aesthetic approaches in building design. The limits are moving, and the architecture challenges are continually expanding. We get the chance to build new sorts of wonders day by day. Yet, the excessively complicated administrative procedure makes us sacrifice the aesthetics in the name of functionality. The bureaucracy preserves the status quo, slowly deleting the unique differences between artistry and engineering.

Instead of shaping the community, most architects obey dictations.

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Retail Design Vancouver

The Solution

There is no cookie-cutter approach in architecture. Every single project should respond to a particular context. The design should be progressive and able to age well, and be flexible to adapt to changes. If architecture is only the building technology, then every single building existing would be architecture. But as it is, architecture is something different from building technology—just like artistry is different from engineering. 

Architecture is, above all, the realization of the concept, embodying an idea. It can grow from practical or metaphorical roots, from immediate needs, or the vision. Architecture, as we know it today, echoes the history of humanity. It tells the stories of society as it once was.

We need it to manifest the changes instead of being background.

Architects represent a force of society because architecture is an expression of its spiritual strength as well as technological progress. It’s a future display of society’s values, desires, ideals, ideology, and many other things at this particular point in time, serving as a time capsule of human history. 

Yet in today’s society, the treatment of architecture is almost exclusively shortsighted, following narrow terms of finance, cost, and return of investment. Politicians impose restraints and ever-growing rules about every single detail. That inevitably affects performance. It’s the road to the domination of uniform, ugly buildings that are not interpreted as any real threat to society.

If we better understood that issue, we might raise a more robust voice against it. If architecture’s significance for the psychological and mental health of society gets recognized, it might be treated accordingly. Then, instead of encouraging bad design, we might start promoting the benefits for the collective spirit. And that will make the architect a designer again.

The association which overlooks the building design community’s activity should watch the design quality as well as building code requirements!

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

What is Urban Organic Architecture?

Urban organic architecture as a concept is not new, but we need to utilize modern ways to revive it in our 21-century architecture and design.

Organic shapes, inspired by nature, are the most soothing shapes existing. The foundation of organic architecture is rooted in the waking time of human civilization. The history of architecture is the fruit of instincts, just like the beehives or ant habitats. Cappadocia is an excellent example of an organically grown settlement based on intuition, without any centralized planning. We still admire the monuments to progressive design exploration in the legacies of Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto, Antoni Gaudi, or Friedensreich Hundertwasser. 

natural architecture
natural architecture

Yet we keep building our shelters in a rigid, restrictive manner believing it’s the most economical and spacious way possible.

Organic Architecture as a Way to Reconnect 

To revive organic architecture in our homes, we need designs with natural features within the structure, or/and shaped in harmony with landscaping. Until recently, such buildings required larger lot sizes, which proved as a somewhat limiting factor in individual housing.

What urban organic architecture differs from other forms of organic architecture is the possibility to implement natural shapes and elements within smaller civil lots. A building can be an eco-friendly, sustainable structure with a psychologically harmonizing ambiance without wasting the space or compromising the economic aspect. Bringing natural elements into the living area or incorporating them into the building’s core is the first step. 

Seachelt Cabin
Seachelt Cabin

For example, green roofs communicate harmony with nature while also helping with sustainability. Chinese Feng Shui incorporates plants and water as a necessary element in their spiritual philosophy of architecture. Japanese gardens also bring natural elements to the door front to get inspired and soothe the soul. Finally, hexagonal shapes can make an ideal base in achieving zero-net levels of insulation, and a possible future of the passive houses concept.

But still, we live in cubes. Urban living implies a set of lines and forms bent in a perfect 90 degrees angle, manufactured to function as a house, office, or any place we live and work in. We call it “urban jungle” while it more resembles an industrial line.

Why?

Rectangles and cubes are perceived as the most cost-effective shape to build. It’s a practical solution that minimizes the waste of space.

But is that true?

From one point of view, if such a claim is right, then bees are all wrong. But if these hard workers, the epitome of efficiency, are right, then perhaps we need to revisit the whole concept of urban living we know today.

Cluster of Hexagon Lights

The honeycombs are marvels of precision engineering, an assemblage of prism-shaped cells in a hexagonal cross-section. The wax walls are made with accurate, adequate dimensions, with the cells gently tilted to prevent the honey from running out. Moreover, the entire comb aligns with the Earth’s magnetic field. Bees do not use any blueprint but still somehow manage to achieve geometry, symmetry, and create an efficient space. Nature is wrong much less often than we are, yet we still do not learn enough from it.

Organic Architecture is Intuitive

Bees are able to build perfect honeycombs based on evolved and inherited instincts. Simple as that. If you want to pack together identical cells so that they can fill a flat plane, only three regular shapes will work: equilateral triangles, squares, and hexagons. Now, here is one interesting thing: hexagons require the least total length of the wall, compared with triangles or squares. If bees choose hexagons to save the energy for making wax, does that mean that urban construction could be more cost-efficient based on the same principle?

Organic architecture
Organic architecture

The answer dates back to the 18th century. Charles Darwin declared that the hexagonal honeycomb is absolute perfection in economizing both labor and material.

The hexagonal grid’s efficiency demonstrates in each line being as short as possible to fill a large area with the fewest number of units. That means the honeycombs require less wax to construct while utilizing strength under compression. Simultaneously, it is one of the only shapes that tessellate perfectly, providing additional insulation benefits. 

Organic Architecture - facade
Modern Urban Organic Facade

Not Just the Bees

Hexagonal shapes are everywhere in nature. Blowing some air to the surface of the water creates a layer of bubbles. While the bubbles may appear spherical to the eye, they are more of a hexagonal shape—not always perfect 6-siders, but never square. Now, if four bubble walls come together, they rearrange into three-wall junctions. All of those are threefold, intersecting at angles of about 120 degrees.

Blowing air through a straw into a bowl of soapy water will pile up bubbles in three dimensions, creating a four-way union. The angles between the intersection planes closest resemble a tetrahedron. Very efficient, but still no squares.

Foam
Foam Structure

A single thing guiding all those patterns are the laws of physics. Nature knows its economy, being developing it far longer than humans. A water bubble’s surface tension stretches the wall to cover as much area as possible while remaining mechanically stable and in a perfect balance.

Look closely at a cluster of bubbles in a foam, and you’ll see that their edges are always curved. The pressure of the gas inside the cell changes, and the cells adapt accordingly. Some facets have three sides, some six, yet together they still acquire the tetrahedral arrangement needed for mechanical stability. This tells us that flexibility in shapes doesn’t necessarily imply disorder and loss of function—quite the contrary.

The Water Cube Project

The superior creative intelligence of nature is embodied, among others, in the Water Cube, the swimming stadium built for the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. Yes, it appears square; however, this highly sustainable structure features several cutting-edge moments. It’s clad with translucent ETFE (ethyl tetra fluoro ethylene), a sturdy, recyclable, and ultra-lightweight material. ETFE weighs just one percent of a standard glass panel in a comparable size. The bubble cladding streams more light than glass. It acts better as an insulator, more resistant to the weathering effects of sunlight. Furthermore, it cleans itself with every rain shower.

Despite the lightweight, fragile appearance, this structural form is durable, extremely sturdy, and resistant to seismic conditions found in Beijing. 

The Water Cube is also a greenhouse. Its design allows high levels of natural daylight so that the sun’s power can passively heat the building and water in the pools. This sustainable concept reduced energy consumption by up to 30 percent. In short, the structure acts like it’s covered with photovoltaic panels, equally effective but far more beautiful. 

The Water Cube inside
The Water Cube, now a water park (Source: Aqua Center)

The Water Cube shows us how a sheet can be full of curvature without being obvious. It’s a great way to translate the traditional urban design into a smarter, more sustainable era. A minimally curved surface can turn an ordinary space into an orderly network of passageways known as periodic minimal surfaces. Just like a honeycomb or soap foam, the periodical pattern of cells repeats identically. Think of it as an upgraded train of square apartments or offices, the same model but with far more benefits.

Lessons from Nature

Just like in a foam cluster, the surface tension is stretching the foam film across a wire loop. Where the wireframe is bent, the film also bends, forming an elegant contour. This lightweight concept exists literally everywhere in nature: wings of insects, eyes, fragile exoskeletons… It’s a way to cover any space enclosed by the frame and solve the complicated structuring using the least amount of material. These minimalistic designs bear a lot of potential in terms of sustainability, beauty, and effectiveness. 

Honeycomb Stairways, Organic Architecture
Honeycomb Stairways

Tension force is what pull stretches an object to try to make it bigger or longer. Strength marks the ability of a material to resist breaking under such a force. In terms of mass to strength ratio, combining modern technologies with established organic forms is the right path to substantial architectural design improvements. Eventually, that leads us to a better overall quality of life. 

To make functional, organized networks from stiff minerals, nature makes a mold. It takes soft, flexible membranes and then crystallizes the hard material inside one of the concentrated networks. Depending on the composition, such elements can strongly bounce off the light, acting like mirrors which guide and confine. Resembling natural optical fibers, architectural structures designed on the same principles can raise energy efficiency to new levels. At the same time, it’s possible to achieve astonishing appearance effects with color changes and optical illusions.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore - organic architecture
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Wright’s Principles of Organic Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture was a reinterpretation of nature’s principles. It marks a design filtered through humans’ intelligent minds to remember that they can build forms more natural than nature itself. Over a century, it reminds us to respect the harmonious relationship between the form and the function, integrating the indoor and outdoor spaces into a coherent whole.

Wright’s organic architecture principles bring harmony between shelter and nature, drawing inspiration from the natural surroundings instead of opposing or imitation. Its goal should be to secure peacefulness through simplicity. 

Lamp by Frank Lloyd Wright
Lamp by Frank Lloyd Wright

Patterns and forms present the grammar in Wright’s building’s language. This concept gives the building its unique voice. Ornamentation also serves to follow the function as a logical part of the structure, seamlessly integrated with its form.

Furniture, light fixtures, appliances, furnaces, and plumbing should be considered part of the space itself, literally growing from the design itself wherever possible.

La Sagrada Familia, ceiling detail
La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí

Urban, Organic and Human

Organic architecture is as old as civilization itself. It represents the true marriage between nature and technology, a harmony between progress and humanism. Organic architecture is a philosophy that asks questions about life itself, offering inspiration. It champions well-being, by addressing the unique needs of the individuals and society as a whole, over a soulless, uniform machinarium.

Instead of austere functionalism, we need to employ a diversity of materials, shapes, styles, and visions. Our goal should be in harmony with nature, complementing it as much as possible. It’s the idea of idealistic urban planning ideology that can lead to a happier, healthier society, inspired by beauty and well-being.

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

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