Design Approach

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The first phase of GFA’s practice was focused on mastering corporate client services, leading-edge digital design, and professional practice — the execution side of architecture.

The current phase of the practice emphasizes our product, focused on Architecture as a Force for Good. The firm aspires to build beyond our region’s West Coast Modern tradition toward design that engages contemporary Canadian culture through the lens of social justice and place. The firm is developing a design approach and method which can positively respond to the functional needs of owners and end-users, and to contemporary social justice issues including inequality, over-consumption, unaffordability, alienation, and irrationality.

The firm’s current approach will be characterized by:

  • Design to enhance tolerance • inclusion • greater equality • personal productivity • conservation • affordability • self-actualization;
  • Buildings that engage people through active participation, discovery and delight;
  • Use of art/craft techniques to create authentic experiences of local place, form and material;
  • Engagement with project types, clients, end-users, and allies with complementary visions and missions;
  • Commitment to strengthen participatory processes;
  • Continuing embrace of digital-age design and production processes;
  • Adherence to normal construction efficiencies and costs;
  • Continuing with a strong footing in professional practice and client service.

Our design approach integrates owner and stakeholder participation in goal-setting, programming and space planning, with our form-making, construction and detail/ornamentation workflow, including:

  • Early selection of appropriate form factor in response to project complexity and cost constraints;
  • Identification of relevant physical, cultural and technological character of the place;
  • Adoption of innovative construction methods and materials in response to constraints of cost, constructability, energy/material efficiency and environment;
  • Distribution of functional program using an end-user focused West Coast Modern approach to space planning including full utilization of sites, topographic fit, and inter-penetration of interior/exterior space;
  • Form-modeling strategy based on art/craft technique, responding to fundamentals of dwelling in a place;
  • Deployment of GFA’s palette of space-bounding, mass and functional elements in response to the form modeling approach, with an inclusive ornamentation approach combining readymade natural-finished building materials with project-specific responses to place and culture.