Conceptualization of client ‘needs’ in architectural theory and practice

Keywords: the concept of need, architectural theory, terminological analysis


The article aims to discuss the ambiguity of the need concept in architecture, and reasons for the existence of several strategies for dealing with need as an ontological and epistemological basis for architectural design. The paper systematizes the conceptualizations of need in architecture, provides a comparative analysis of its various interpretations and explains the differences between ideological, philosophical and theoretical viewpoints. A variety of meanings are analyzed using the author’s concept of “paradigms of socio-architectural knowledge”. Five platforms of social knowledge can be distinguished in architectural theory, each of which relies on its own understanding of human beings and sees the content of human existence in its own way. Considered through the prism of the paradigms, different visions of the concept of need find their logical and methodological explanation. Each paradigm gives its own answer to who or what is the bearer and exponent of the need, and procedures for identifying needs in design. The paper presents “stairs of needs” as a metaphor, ordering the range of possible actions of the architect in relation to the needs of the client – from obstruction and conscious deformation to satisfaction and phenomenological embodiment.


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