16 Feb 2016
Prof. Chris Tweed is the current Head of School of the Welsh School of Architecture
My kind of occupant would shape the built environment to meet her changing needs and wants, rather than be a docile subject in an architecture conceived and delivered solely by others. She would have her own ideas about commodity, firmness and delight and want those from the buildings she inhabits.
My kind of occupant would tell everyone how wonderful her home/office/school is because she loves spending time there. She would praise the architect who gets it right, who understands how people inhabit, adapt and own places rather than relying on lazy stereotypes and half-baked requirements capture in design. My kind of occupant would tell the architect how to improve the next iteration of the design through meaningful post occupancy evaluation. She would think about how the building could respond to changes and where flexibility might be needed, asking “Wouldn’t it be good if we could do X?” rather than brusquely stating “I don’t like this.”
Of course my kind of occupant would also require my kind of designer. They are two sides of the same coin. This designer would leave space — long life, loose fit -- for the occupant to complete the architecture and would learn from her subversion and disruption so that the next building would be an even better, and possibly looser, fit. That kind of designer seeks the views of occupants and listens to what they have to say, long after the photographs of pristine interiors published in the glossy magazines have been forgotten. My kind of designer would put my kind of occupant in those images.