COMMUNICATION for architects

They call it 'architectonic' to what we know as 'sensible'...

They call it 'didactic' to what we understand as 'illustrative'...

They call it 'discourse' to what we do as 'discussion' ...


And while we find theirs jargon 'confusing', they would call it 'arbitrary'...

… They are the 'creative think tanks', whom we recognize as Architects.



Image ©  Bansri Pandey

Architects are famous for using jargons and complicated expressions in their speech. Often, such expression is made to impress the clients and the listeners; without undertanding whether the audience are able to interpret these words or not. In their education, architects and designers are trained to use non–verbal languages like drawings, sketches, diagrams, videos, animations etc.  They can show a most difficult building solution by showing a simple sketch but if they are asked to explain it in a verbal language, often, they are uncomfortable and many a times either use jargons or are at loss of words.  It does not only imply to architects, but most people who are in creative field feel the same when they have to express their ideas. The main reason behind  this is that most architects and designers, during their academic years, invest their maximum time in developing their designing skills and do not give enough importance in learning communication and other management skills. 


'' The building industry has a poor reputation for the manner in which its individual communicate with one another.'' writes Stephen Emmitt in his book 'Architectural Management in Practice'.


The success of any building depends on the communication of individuals from different backgrounds such as, architects, engineers, sub-contractors, consultants, suppliers, investors and of course the key player as the client. Being the leader of the team, the verbal communication skills of architects should be strong enough to be able to co-ordinate, interpret, resolve queries and develop a healthy relationship between the team members. Enormous written and verbal information in the form of drawings, sketches, calculations, digital data, etc. is generated throughout the building process.  Thus, communication skills are essential to clarify doubts, ambiguities, suggestions and comments.


Following is an interesting study (by Broadbent, 1988) of a young architect at work in the design office whose used different communciation methods in the following proportions:

  • Drawings and associated activities: 33.4%

  • Discussion/verbal communication: 31.1%

  • Miscellaneous: 12.1%

  • Thinking: 9.5%

  • Information seeking: 7.6%

  • Letters and written communication: 6.3%


Be it business related communication like the profile of a firm, correspondences, feasibility reports, etc. or be it marketing related communication like websites, brochures, drawing and visual presentation, etc.; architects require communication skills for a wide range of categories in their day to day activities. Miscommunication can create misunderstanding which further leads to disputes which may result in waste of time, money and energy.


In today’s information age, the world is a market for architects. There are plenty of opportunities out there. We, architects, must be ready with all our tools to grab them. Out of all tools, I believe that one of the most important tools, is our communication skill. We do not sell products that can come with 1 year guarantee but we sell ideas, concepts and aspirations!! our clients, our associates, our co-workers and all the users of our buildings, need to understand our vision and take an active part in it. This is only possible when we communicate our vision clearly and with thorough understanding. 


Learn more about communciating with clients in our next article. 


Next>> Communicating with Clients


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