Simple Storytelling for Architects

May 13, 2016Ben Morgan

Okay, so we use this word ‘storytelling’ a lot. It’s probably been overused, but for us it’s a really great way of distinguishing between ‘marketing’ and genuine stories.

For architects and designers, telling the story of a project can be daunting. But remember, you’ve got an ally in a journalist. They’re trained to tell your story in a way that people can connect with. Your job is simply to explain to them what’s unusual or interesting about the project.

If you’ve ever read a book on writing, or marketing, you’ll see a common recommendation of using storytelling to explain ‘your thing’. The rationale is that our brains are wired to connect with stories and, therefore, you can explain complex ideas through a ‘narrative’.

In this post – a recap on our earlier post on the subject – we’re going to show you how to describe your project and to create a basic story structure.

Telling your story doesn’t have to be hard

You already know the story of your project (you’ve lived it). It just helps to have a structure. We think this one works really well:

Project Brief

This is where you get to use your client’s words to your benefit. Literally explain what they came to you with:

“The client owned an existing home between two heritage buildings. Their family was growing and they needed a bigger building. Rather than relocate they decided to investigate what could be done with their existing home…”

Challenges of the Brief

This is where you can highlight the difficulties of the project, as no project is straightforward:

“One of the hardest things about this project was the small size of the site. We needed to design a building that would accommodate far more, but without a major increase in the building volume…”

Your Solution

This is where you get to show off your skills. You should explain how you tackled ‘the challenge’ and met the client’s brief:

“We approached the design much like a boat. We knew the envelope of the building was fixed and it was all about getting as much out of every square metre that we could, which included using oversized stairs as extra living space and clever storage in walls and floor cavities…”

One of the benefits of using this approach is that by starting off with the Project Brief you end up using the client’s words and avoid ‘archi-speak’. The second benefit is that the Challenges and Solutions explain the value of using an architect. The bigger the challenge the more valuable you are. And lastly, all three aspects are factual questions and you don’t need to be a great writer to make it work – leave that to the journos.

Try telling the story of one of your recent projects. Jot down some notes on the ‘Brief’, list two ‘Challenges’, then a few sentences on your ‘Solutions’. Feel free to send this through to us here if you’ve got any questions.

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