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Illustration of the letter i for the word idea in green tones for the architect alphabet of the Bordeaux agency Bulle Architectes.


They can be large, fixed, high, clear, precise, received, shocking. Any idea ?

It’s about ideas, the famous fuel of all creative disciplines from which architecture does not escape. Everything starts with an idea. Without it, the profession would be reduced to a simple organization of space with a nice plan. The idea is the small spark that will make the difference between a well “decorated” building and an architectural work.

But this injunction to have ideas is as exciting as it is anxiety-provoking. It can devour us when they appear as well as dismay us when they don’t. And then, how can we always have them ?
How then to have an “idea in the back of your head”, “to follow your idea” and “to go to the end of your idea” ?

Pablo Picasso said “Good artists copy, while great artists steal”.
The difficulty is to succeed in being inspired and to create, without falling into copying or plagiarism. We are all influenced by our predecessors, but the difference lies in the authenticity and sincerity that we put into creating an original work.
For that we must remain curious and awake to what surrounds us, to all forms of culture without following too closely the creators having a universe close to ours. Being interested in other fields allows you to make analogies, to associate ideas and to revisit your subject from a new angle.
Time is also a factor not to be neglected. Having ideas requires time, calm and a dose of boredom. It is often when the mind has time to wander that ideas come to life.

But what to do with all these ideas ?  According to the British psychologist Graham Wallas (book The Art of Thought) there are four main stages between the idea and its concretization. It is possible or necessary to go back and forth between these stages.

The first is the preparation. It is a phase of impregnation and inspiration of different universes which requires the collection of information and the acquisition of knowledge. A piece of advice: write down everything that comes to mind in a notebook without censorship !

The second stage is incubation. This is the time to let go. You have to let the idea germinate and mature while you are free to do other things. While the ideas simmer quietly, the work is deepened and new connections are formed.

The third is enlightenment. It is the famous “Eureka!” that emerges from the deepest layers of the mind, unexpectedly and as if by magic, after sometimes a period of absolute emptiness.

Finally, the fourth and last step is verification. This is the time to put your idea into practice and to validate it, by yourself, your teams or those close to you. And if the result is not up to par, go back to step two of the incubation !

Unfortunately, all these steps are not linear and not easy. But this roadmap provides a framework for the creative process on which to build. It also allows you to combine the strengths of each team member: thinkers/generators will be at ease in phases 2 and 3, while experts in the art of getting things done will be effective in putting phases 1 and 4 into action. So join forces !

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