Why it's Important to Know Your Values & How to Apply Creative, Critical Thinking (Think Big Ep2)

Knowing what you value is important as a designer but how can we connect to them? In episode 2, I mentioned the book - Think Like an Architect by Randy Deutsch and today I'll share 6 important lessons from his book as well as 1 quote of my own to help you think more critically and develop creative and collaborative thinking skills as well as up-levelling your architectural English.

I discuss:

✨ Why it's important to be connected to what you value as a designer

✨ 6 quotes from Think Like an Architect, Randy Deutsch

1 quote from a famous architect that has helped to shape my values

✨ At the end of the episode, I share some examples of metaphors

Recommended episodes:

Episode 1: How to Build Your English Confidence: for Architects and Built Design Professionals


Episode 3: How to use storytelling to connect to your clients - Fiona Dunin, FMD Architects


Books and Resources Mentioned

📚 Think Like an Architect, Randy Deutsch

📚 The Culture Map, Erin Meyer

🎥 Alastair Parvin

Architecture for the People By the People

🎥 ArchiMarathon

Critical Thinking in Architecture, What, Why and How

🎥 Sarah Goldhagen - Metaphors We Live In

✨ Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/archienglishteacher

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull

Ready to take action:

Ready to start making a BIG impact on your English & building the architecture career you want?

You know it's time to make a change and you've got to start somewhere. In the evaluation and action plan, you will get my best tips so you stop the self-doubt and start taking action now. Take me to the action plan

Table of Contents - Take me straight to these sections Vocabulary

Books and Resources

Transcript Images

Expressions Key Vocabulary analogous - typically in a way that makes clearer the nature of the things compared.

ambiguity - open to one or more interpretations

unravelling - untwine, investigate, solve or explain

to put your spin on something - to interpret and event to make it seem favourable or beneficial to oneself or one's cause

cross ventilation - natural method of cooling a house

charged out - to be charged out means the hourly rate the client pays for your work

Quotes from Think Like an Architect


Quick Find Snippets - Take me straight to these sections


The 4 different ways architects work

Why it's important to know your value

Luis Barragan Quote

Metaphor in Architecture

Ambiguity and Mindset

Creativity and Unravelling the Tangle

Working in Collaborative Cultures

Using Emotion to Present Ideas

Metaphors in English

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:00

You're listening to Think Big Episode Two.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:14

Hello big thinkers and welcome to think big English for architects. I'm your host, Tara Cull Neurolanguage coach, English teacher and landscape architect. And I'm bringing together all these passions and interests to help people in the built design profession, who speak English as a second language, or a third or fourth, to build outstanding communication skills to help them find their voice and to speak up. You can learn more about my coaching programmes at archienglish.com/coaching

Now, why do I do this? I've had a few people recently asked me, Why do I just work with architects or built design professionals. And in response to that, I don't just work with built design professionals, but it's the one that I focus on the most, and the ones that I concentrate on the most. So for the last few years, the last three years, I've been teaching English in France. But for the last 18 months, I've been focusing a lot of my efforts on trying to help people within the profession of architecture. Having been a landscape architect myself, and having worked with a lot of architects, it was something that I really wanted to pursue. And I love helping people to thrive, and to know how to understand how they can make communicating across cultures work for themselves. When you move to a new culture, or when you have to communicate in a new language, it's really challenging. So I'm passionate about cultures, having moved to France, myself, and living in a new culture and adapting and speaking to people from a number of different cultures. And so I really like to understand how I can help people do that more effectively. So I'm really about sharing. And I think in a world with so much information now, we can take inspiration and ideas from all over the place. But ultimately, we have to be able to know how we can make these things work, and how we can make these decisions.

And personally, myself, I've turned a lot to coaching in the last 18 months. And so this has been a really powerful tool for me to be able to feel empowered to be able to make decisions. And so this is why I adopt a coaching philosophy with a lot of my clients, because I think it's a really powerful way to empower people to take control, with support with guidance, but to be able to really own the learning process and the long term benefits, I feel really, really effective for learners of language. And it also allows people to have accountability. And I believe that a people will people learn more when the learning comes from their own self discovery, as well as guided questions. And coaching allows you to do that because the person listening to is giving, giving you the space to answer questions, but also asking you powerful questions, and then encouraging this shared responsibility for the learning. So as a coach, what we're focusing on doing is listening to the words and the ideas and the stories, but then trying to help you find your words that come from you. So inspired by all those things about coaching, this is exactly what this podcast is about. So it's for everyone. But essentially, it's a listening resource for English learners from the discipline of architecture, or perhaps you just like architecture as well. And so it's to help you improve your listening comprehension and your critical thinking skills, as well as the expression of ideas. Because the stories that myself and my guests share are here to really inspire you. So as I spoke about in Episode One, I have a number of interviews that I have been conducting over the last few months that I'm super happy to be sharing with you, I think you'll get a lot of insight from some of the conversations that I've been having. In the previous episode, I mentioned the book Think Like an Architect by Randy Deutsch. And so I wanted to use this book to centre around the topic for today, which is to talk about why it's important to be connected to your values. And then I'm going to use seven quotes from the book to show some of my values and why I think it's important and what my spin on these ideas are. And then I'm going to share another quote from another architect that has helped me to shape my values. And then finally, we'll talk about metaphors in English because I do talk about metaphors in architecture a little later on. So as always, you'll find the transcript with key vocabulary and important images in the show notes. So let's get started with today's episode.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 05:17

Architects and landscape architects are people who design buildings, structures, and landscapes. But they also think about the needs of the clients as well as what is required to make the design functional, but also how it fits within the surrounding context. And the moment of time. So as architects, we need to be adaptable to what is happening. If you've seen Alastair Parvin's, Ted Talk Architecture for the People By The People, then you'll be familiar with the idea that being an architect is not just about building buildings, sometimes we talk to people about how they can improve what they already have. And in a recent conversation with an international colleague, an architect, and a lecturer, and someone I really admire, we discussed two ways that architects work. And so I want to share them with you today. And then also add another two ways that I've since thought about since we had this conversation. So architect and designer, number one works for a private client. So the work is more intimate because times you're facilitating these conversations where you have opposing opinions between family members, or consultants, or suppliers. And you're trying to inform the client as much as possible for them to be better equipped to make really important decisions. And it can be such an intimate process, because you're exposed to all the ways that people communicate, the way that they connect and way and the way that they argue sometimes. So I shared a story recently, with one of my clients about one of the clients that I worked with, they were in the middle, smack bang, in the middle of the design process, we had already completed a number of design iterations with the architect and with the landscape architect. And unfortunately, they were going through a separation, myself and the clients and all the other consultants were exposed to a lot of really uncomfortable conversations that I'm certain clients found really challenging, it was really challenging for us, there were financial difficulties in the process. And so you really can be exposed to some of these intimate moments. So you need to be able to understand and be equipped, how you can communicate, and how you can resolve some of these challenges. And sometimes these things that we're exposed to a such personal parts of life, then we have architect and designer, number two who works in the public realm. And the work is focused on a particular client. But the needs are more diverse, because we have to consider many competing needs. So different users of the site, different people who were using the site. So the architect perhaps has more autonomy, and more power to assert their expertise or to use evidence to support their expertise. And the architect has to take both their desires and the needs of society into account in order to create the building or the space that meets everyone's requirements. And sometimes these can also be very politically driven, as well. So we're influenced in other ways. So we need to have an understanding of how the buildings and how the spaces affect people, not just for now, but how they might affect people for future generations, and how they might impact on what's happening. And now that seems to be getting harder and harder to predict. Because especially if we think about the year that we've all had, it seems like we need to constantly adapt. So as well as the first two types of architects, I think there are two other types, and one of which I think is expanding more in recent years. And it's really great to see. So the third type are the people who teach who write, who research, and who analyse important ideas and needs and issues. And they really help to inform our decisions. Now architects at this level have a really crucial role to play because the work we do affects society deeply and for many generations. So we need to know what the impact of our work could be in 50 or 100 years time. So to be a great architects, you need to know how to communicate both theoretically, and practically because these big and small ideas are needed within all the types of thinking and sometimes this can be really challenging to break down really complex ideas that you have thought about, and to be able to communicate it to people who understand. And in a couple of episodes, we'll talk with Saneia Norton about jargon and how we can break this down.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 10:16

Now, the fourth one is an emerging field. I think, last few years, we've seen more people within this realm, and its content creators. So people on YouTube on Instagram, Tick tok, and all these other emerging social media platforms. So they merge their skills and expertise, and ideas to share their ideas with the world. And often they challenge the status quo, they need to know about how people consume content, and how they can make it engaging. And then they they know about what challenges people face as well, and what they need to do to overcome these challenges. So these people tend to seek truth, and adopt critical thinking skills. So I think there's a lot that we can learn from content creators, because they have to understand so many different things. So they tend to find gaps within the industry and push ideas and take risks, to discuss really important issues. I think, and I've seen a lot of these discussions come up more recently, about gender pay gap, equity, diversity and inclusion, education, unpaid overtime, technology developments, things like BIM and AI, and how other emerging technologies will have an influence on how we work. So all four of these different roles, I think, play an essential role in pushing the boundaries. And I think we all need to work together to be able to continue to push the boundaries.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 11:53

Personally, I've always been quite interested in architecture. When I was in primary school, I wanted to be an architect. And I remember wanting to be an architect for so many years. And when I finally got into my final year of school, and I went to visit Melbourne University, I found out about the course of landscape architecture. And I really realised that my values were much better aligned with the landscape course. I'm somebody who's a lover of the environment of science, geomorphology, ecology, architecture, and design. And I really loved my Urban Design subjects. And I enjoyed my first year, when all my subjects were with architects. So I did a lot of history of architecture subjects, sketching, and then studio subjects. Then in later years, in the course of landscape architecture, we branched off to do more discipline related subjects. And I guess for me, I've been lucky in the last few years of my career to be able to work more one on one with architects because my landscape design work has been focused more around working with residential clients. And as I came to realise architecture isn't just about building buildings, or designing landscapes. It's also about communicating your ideas to clients and to people outside of the industry. And so an important aspect of that is knowing how you connect to your values.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 13:25

So why is it important to know your values? Well, identifying our values and taking really committed action towards our values. So knowing what you like and what you don't like, even when it's uncomfortable at times, because it can be is really about living a life, with your strengths in mind. And it certainly makes it a lot easier when you know exactly what you stand for. And you know exactly what you want to have the confidence in your abilities. Because when you know what you do and what you don't like, it makes it much easiest to speak about. And I speak about this a lot with my coaching clients about even though we're talking about improving your English, it's also important to know what you value, what do you value about where you come from? What are some of the design styles and the philosophies that

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 14:17

have been instilled in you based on your experience, and to not be afraid to think more deeply about how you connect to those things. When you're first working in the architecture profession, and you're still unsure, I think it really takes time to work out and to understand exactly what you want. Because as a graduate, you're you just have so much information you don't know what to take in. It's important to be able to articulate your ideas. And also I think sometimes those ideas and those values may change over time. So we don't know what we don't know. And as we learn more we we become more we have more wisdom and we sort of understand what we need to understand more, many of my clients also say to me that they don't necessarily know what they value. Sometimes people may, the people that I work with, they may have come from a non English speaking country, and they're moving to an English speaking country. And the job that they have is the first job that they could get, or they don't want to turn it down because they see it as a really good opportunity. And sometimes that means they're living with a value based system of, I should, or I really ought to do this, or I really have to do this because I don't have a choice. And as a result, they can really suffer and not feel like they're aligned with their values. Sometimes it's not a matter of getting all your values from the paid job you're doing. If you don't know what you value as a designer, then you you might find it hard to feel confident about the decisions and the judgments that you make as a designer. And this goes the same for learning a language as well. So if you know what you like, and what is going to move you forward, then that's going to help you to move forward quicker. If you don't know what drives you, then how can you decide on a strategy for getting there. So often, when I work with people, it's about two things, it's about helping them understand what they value as a designer, and what is going to be the most important thing to help them to start making tracks with their confidence. And if you lack confidence, I really encourage you to go back to the beginning, do some work around your values, do some work around understanding what exactly it is that you need to move forward within your language learning or your confidence, to speak up in meetings, for example, or the confidence around your accent. So you can do things like find images, pictures, ideas, quotes, you could make a mood board, whatever it is that you think will help you to identify what you really truly value, maybe community consultation, or maybe a particular material or a design. Philosophy is what is really important to you. Because when you know what you truly value and what's missing, then you can try to find ways and strategies to help bring those back into your life. And as I was saying, maybe you don't necessarily get all of the things that you value in your job. You might do some volunteering, or you might have make a connection with somebody in a different place, or who's working for a different organisation that might help you to find those values.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 17:48

So I wanted to start today's episode with a quote from the Mexican architect Louis Barragan, so he's an architect that I really admire. So as a landscape architect, who works with architects a lot, this quote really resonated with me. I don't divide architecture, landscape and gardening. To me, they are one. So as a landscape architect, I've often felt that, when working with buildings, or working on projects, the work that we do can often be thought of as a last consideration. It's not always the case. But it happens very often. And so the budget for landscape can be the first thing to be cut. And then it leaves little space to be creative. Or sometimes it can make you more creative because you're trying to fit so much in such a little budget.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 18:29

And there are examples of where architects have done this well. And I wanted to share one example, one recent modern example that I found recently, which is the Casa Jardin Escandon, in Mexico City. So for me, it's a great example of where architecture can connect with the built and the natural environment. Obviously, there are many other examples, but this is just one example. So I've put a picture of this in the show notes. And it was, it was developed to live towards the interior of the complex though. It has a central courtyard, and a rear patio, which is separated from the back boundary. And it allows all these residential units to have natural light as well as cross ventilation. So the interior facades towards the central courtyard allow a more direct relationship with the outdoors, social spaces, and the internal Secret Garden. So we often see this type of garden or this type of building complex throughout Europe. So it's something that I'm getting more used to having lived in France for three years now. Another way to think about what you value is to explore what others say, and decide how much you identify with what they say. So very often when I'm trying to think of something to express an idea, I try and find an architect who have said something quite similar. Now in the book, Think Like an Architect Randy Deutsch shares 68 ways to think like an architect. For me, it's one of those books that you could go back to time and time again to reflect on what you believe. But perhaps as a professional, you don't necessarily have the time to be going back over these ideas. So today, I wanted to share seven of them with you, and also put my spin on them, put my own experience to it, to contribute my own ideas.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 20:42

So the first one is from the section analogous thinking, architects use metaphor to provide order and meaning to the built environment, page 50. So metaphor is where one thing substitutes another thing to stand in for another. So it can be better understood. Metaphors, though they should be really well considered before being used in a building, because they can also mislead and miscommunicate I think it's really important to assume that not everyone is going to experience a place in the same way, or they're not going to necessarily connect to it emotionally in the same way. So Randy, says that metaphor, as a stand in for critical thinking is lazy. And I tend to agree with him because we don't necessarily know how people are going to experience the space. And I'm going to talk about that in a moment. One project, where I think metaphor has been used really well, is Falling water by Frank Lloyd Wright. And it's really well known for its relationship between architecture, the environment, and humans. So the positioning of the building on the rock, so high up on the rock, and this preference for a horizontal layout, rather than the vertical reinforces the waterfall connection. And so it's a metaphor for prehistoric architecture that people used to settle among the rocks and the trees and within nature, as dwellings. And Frank Lloyd Wright achieved this by placing the building on the top of the existing rock, as if it were part of nature as if it were part of the rock. Another project that uses metaphor, in a controversial way is the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. It was designed by the architect Peter Eisenman and the engineer Buro Happold. And the site is covered with 2711 concrete slabs, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. So if you haven't seen this project before, I've put an image into the show notes to give you an idea of what it looks like. So according to Eisenman's text, about the project, the concrete slabs, were designed to produce this uneasy, confusing atmosphere. And the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. So when you're walking through the space, after having visited this space, I can definitely relate to what they were trying to achieve by this uneasy feeling and the confusing atmosphere because as you're walking through it, you can't see the end of the tunnel. Now, some have criticised this user experience because it's the opposite of this seemingly dark metaphor that he hoped to create. Because you often see people sitting on and running over the top of the concrete slabs, so it's not necessarily this place for contemplation that they hoped to achieve. So I think the moral to the story is that use metaphors sparingly where you want to make things that cannot be understood more present. So at the end of the episode, I'm going to share some examples of metaphors that we use in English. So we often use metaphors in architecture as well. But I'm also going to share some examples that we use in English.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 24:00

The next one comes from the section of evidence based ideas. It's down to the architect to present evidence in support of their design ideas, page 69. Early on in my career, I realised that I struggled with being creative. I felt like I had to base all my design decisions and ideas on scientific evidence or proof. And this really held me back as a designer. I also realised that as Randy suggests, it can come from you and your own intuition as well, What, how you experience things, as long as you're thinking critically. So thinking about the negatives and the positives and thinking about the experience of space. This is just another reason why it's so important to know exactly what you value and to know exactly how to articulate what you value, because you might need to explain your ideas and your opinions to several people. And this is why I always go back to the videos by ArchiMarathon on YouTube, in particular The Critical Thinking in Architecture What, Why and How of architecture? Because they talk about needing to explain every aspect of the project. And they use the, this the structure of what is it? Why is it like that? And how does it work. So I'll put a link to this particular video in the show notes. The other thing is you need to consider your audience. So do they need to focus on facts to support their decision making, it's always good to know what they want and how they might interpret the design, I have some clients who are excellent at reading plans. And then I have other clients who have absolutely no idea. So we have to adapt the way and provide evidence to help them