Designing new buildings and structures is what brings meaning and satisfaction to most architects’ lives, but new ideas don’t always flow easily. Many architectural designers have found themselves behind a creative wall, a limitation that prevents them from incepting new ideas or expanding ones they’ve already begun to develop. For some, it evolves into a prolonged dry spell, where it’s either impossible to create meaningful new designs or the designs you do come up with are unsatisfactory because they aren’t original or challenging.
Fortunately, when you hit a dry period like this, there are some resources and strategies you can use to pull yourself out of it.
Finding Architectural Inspiration
It’s not possible to force yourself to be creative, but it’s often helpful to look for sources of inspiration, which can spark new ideas in your mind or allow you to overcome whatever mental blocks are hindering your progress.
These are some of your best options:
1. Attend tradeshows and conferences
First, consider attending a tradeshow or conference in your area relating to architecture or design. Given enough time to prepare, you might even have the option of attending as a presenter. Either way, you’ll get the chance to engage with other people in the industry, and you’ll be able to exchange ideas and see what other people are working on. It’s also going to break you out of your routine, which could be just the burst of energy you needed to come up with something new.
2. Visit new cities
Pick a city you’ve never been before and go there, even if it’s only a short drive away. Every city has its own distinctive architectural look and feel, and there will likely be at least a handful of buildings that show you something novel. Again, this allows you to break out of your routine, and exposes you to new environments. Unfortunately, this option does require some time and/or money, but if you don’t feel like making the investment, you could always replicate the experience by looking through photos of your city of choice.
3. Check out more popular architecture blogs
Architecture blogs are always a good source of inspiration. You’ll find images of new buildings, articles about new approaches and new ideas, and of course, the different perspectives of your peers. Some of the top names include Dezeen, Archdaily, and Architect’s Journal (AJ), though there aren’t any right or wrong choices here. Try to find an author and/or blog whose style you like, and stick to it.
4. Subscribe to new podcasts
One of the best perks of architecture blogs is that you’ll get to see photos and visualize different architectural designs. However, you can also serve yourself well by trying to find information without visual stimuli. Listening to architectural podcasts, or really any podcast covering design topics, can prompt you to think outside the box while you’re engaging in some other activity, like exercising or enjoying the outdoors.
5. Look to your environment
If you’re open to it, you can find inspiration almost anywhere. Pay attention to the curves, edges, or designs of objects in your home or office. Look at how the bridges and buildings along your route home were put into place. Inspect the furniture in whichever waiting room you find yourself in, and contemplate how those design principles could be applied in your future work.
In addition, you can try general strategies designed to help you think more creatively. Exposing yourself to other mediums of art, talking to other people with different perspectives, and going through brainstorming exercises can all be helpful.
Getting Something on Paper
There’s no guarantee your strategies will help you think of the next big idea, and you still might struggle to translate your conceptual ideas into real results. If you find yourself feeling creatively trapped or unable to move forward, consider intentionally getting something down on paper—even if you don’t like it. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could try drafting an entire blueprint, or you could start with a simple list of possible directions to take. Either way, you’ll be building momentum, and you’ll likely find it easier to think of your next major idea.