The Joy of Shared Accomplishment


The text is written as a short, easy-to-implement answer to frequent questions posed by my architectural students, but is also relevant for entire teams.


1. Dedicate time for self-reflection on a daily basis.

Short cycles of drawing alone is a precondition for not getting lost within group thinking.

The more each of you surrenders to the project individually, in silence, the greater the richness of your discussion together.

Regular dialogue with yourself leads to a vibrant relationship with your colleagues, manifesting in the higher quality of your collective work.


2. Ask for didactic help.

Older and more experienced colleagues may help you to build skills in designing, analyzing and observing spaces.

Do not ask them to do something for you; ask them to teach you how to do it by yourself.


3. Learn soft skills for effective architectural communication.

Your technical knowledge and skills have small relevance, if you don’t know how to share them properly for a greater good. Learn to listen, digest, evaluate and respond to the work of other collaborators.

You want to deliver a great project where all co-designers can participate with the best of their skills. Learn to trust them and divide the work with realistic expectations that will be modified within the design process itself.


4. Measure your words.

Be careful with your spoken words.

Your behavior towards other colleagues may build strong bridges of confidence, stimulate joint creative flows and enchance the working confluence between each other.

If your words are spoken with an offensive intonation, humiliation or cynicism, you may seriously damage the relationship with your collegues: they will either distance themselves from your presence, or they will remain there in supressed anger only until the end of the specific project.

To avoid this, build a trustworthy team with meaningful relational stories: people stay within a team because of their micro community, not because of an award, payment or reputation.


5. Search for critical thinkers and critical doers instead of blind obedience.

You do not need ruthless people with passive criticism, but instead surround yourself with people who will speak without hesitation: “there is a different, better way to do this”.

Be the person who stimulates freedom of speech in your team. Be the person who cultivates deep listening and consideration of other’s opinions and perspectives.


6. Create the execution calendar together with your team.

And stick to its flexible timetable. It might sound as a cliché, but it is not.

Be the person who respects internal deadlines and interpersonal boundaries.

Otherwise, you will be the person who risks the health, time and energy of all other participants by disrespecting the common agreement.


7. Start early, immediately.

The earlier you start to research, analyse and explore variations of design proposals, the more time you will have to modify mistakes and unsatisfiable solutions.

If you start early, you will have more time to develop the advantage-narratives of your project in greater detail.

Trust me, evaluation committees have a sharp eye to understand and notice if a project was made within a week or within a longer period of three months.

They can notice if a drawing was made under a deadline pressure or by an explorative desire.


8. Conduct the research of the place, the local stories and their inhabitants.

When designing an architectural project within a specific location, do not base decisions upon assumptions.

In historically dense locations, the last thing you want to do is to make a design proposal that can be placed “anywhere”.

Do the research: show creative respect to the indigenous habits, their stories and rituals.

The research serves you as an establishment of meaningful relationship between the existing reality and your design proposal as an alternative reality.

Discussions within the team can help you in selecting the most meaningful research data available for further integration into the design process.


9. Remember your roots, but always look beyond your school of training

I said it a million times before, and I will repeat it as long as it it helps others:

Be grateful for what you have learned from your heroes but move forward beyond their influence. Team discussions may help you to detect blind admiration.

Be especially careful when you find yourself praising and idealizing your formal and informal mentors: although you consider them authorities, they are humans - each with their own limitations of discernment and personal wisdom.

Stop trying to be more like them and learn how to be more like yourself.

Superficial imitation of someone’s works, words and mimics is an evident state of an unhealthy personality crisis.

Transform the blind and obedient admiration into a mindful, transparent and honest relationship.


10. Refresh your own criteria: external awards are less meaningful than internally shared values

A much greater happiness than receiving an award, is the joy of submitting the project while enjoying the high quality design process you shared with your team.

It is rare.

It is not likely to happen within toxic environments lacking transparent communication.

It happens within communities where freedom of speech and healthy constructive critiques are encouraged.

That joy of shared accomplishment. You need to co-create it. You need to radiate it as an embodied principle of compassionate caring for yourself and your colleagues.

Ultimately, it is about nurturing the shared creative treasures that you have discovered together on the design process journey.


I'll be updating this throughout 2023.

Thanks for reading.


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