Do You Even Charrette?


What’s a charrette in the first place? It’s a french word for cart, where architecture students would hop on carts finalizing their ideas before the deadline - basically procrastinating before giving in the assignment. Surprisingly, or maybe not considering the amount of times I procrastinated while at school (shh), those were the best ideas! Today it’s become a group of people from different backgrounds collaborating to tackle a design problem.

Now traditionally speaking a charrette has not been welcomed with open arms in architecture and design firms. Usually, an architect or designer come up with a drawing, design a building or space and then pass it along to an engineer. The flaw in this method is that without dialogue in the beginning many problems are found making a project less effective and downplayed.

Didn't realize how mean my thinking face looks. 

Didn't realize how mean my thinking face looks. 

For introverts, such as myself, the latter option would be the easier route. I certainly feel vulnerable and anxious (say what?!, how did you start this blog than) at times when it comes to sharing my ideas or asking questions. However, what I remind myself is that a charrette welcomes bad ideas in order to filter those ideas out. Thinking in this way allows me to have the confidence to present my ideas and open to ask and learn from others. It’s amazing the amount of ideas that come out of a charrette and the lessons learned. Just yesterday, as part of the design implementation group with the Living Building Challenge (what is this?, I’ll explain about it below), we had a whole discussion about zoning policies, low-income housing, and urban agriculture. As students or recent grads we’re afraid to speak up, ask questions, and voice our opinions. Your time is now, the future is in our hands, ask questions, be vulnerable, fail forward. We aren’t reinventing the wheel we are learning from past successes and mistakes in order to build an innovative future. 


Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is a green rating system that provides a holistic regenerative approach to the design of a building. Their symbol is a flower, where each petal represents a component, these include: water, energy, place, materials, beauty, health and happiness, and equity. My focus is on the last three petals with Helena Van Vliet as my inspiring mentor.

There are more charrettes to come with the Living Building Challenge, I will be presenting the three petals some time in September.  Did you catch us on Facebook yet?! You can follow our page here

“Good works come from teams where no one accounts for the origin of the idea” 

Renzo Piano