A universal method, unique resilient designs.

The Place Responsive Design Method (PRDM) is a tool for the greater architectural community to foster sustainable cities and sustain place identity. The Place Responsive Design Method is a universal three step tool applicable to any brief or site worldwide that aims to tackle the pressing challenges of the globalisation era and foster urban resilience.

Let’s discover it.

It all starts with Place

The Place Responsive Design Method, applicable to any brief or site worldwide, is based on the pillars of Place and Sustainability: Environment, Society and Economy. The Environment pillar deals with the physical conditions of the site. This can be anything from the location and topography to the local climate and ecology on site. The Society pillar deals with the social, cultural and historical layers of the site. And last but not least, the Economy pillar explores construction and material practices and availability.

Investigating any site based on each of these pillars and their subcategories provide the framework for local research to help determine the building’s positioning, form, materiality, structure and more, while anchoring it in its context.

Place Responsive Design Method Pillars by Nyasha Harper-Michon

A simple method

The simplicity and accessibility of the method empowers designers to make informed design responses to use as the foundation of the design. The method entails three simple steps: to collect, interpret and hierarchise local data to use as the foundation of the design. 

The first step is to collect data and information about the place or context conditions and classify based on (non exhaustive) PRDM pillars and subcategories. The next step consists of interpreting the information and making pre-design responses or ‘design triggers’ for the (sub)category of the PRDM to determine implications for design. The result of this deep dive into the site is a hierarchy of the design triggers that are most important for the proposal. The idea is to let your creative juices flow to create a cohesive design rooted in its context.

Coupling your unique artistic voice with place

It’s important to note that each stage naturally involves the designer’s interpretation. Along the process design decisions are made as per usual using personal vocabulary, design aesthetic and values. The Place Responsive Design Method is about enabling designers to make informed decisions, taking a position on the existing circumstances – environmental or physical, society or human or economic and relating to the built environment.

Each designer confronted with the same site will create their own place diagram that intertwines their own artistic voice and that of the local context – that’s the beauty of the . A universal method that yields unique resilient designs.

Indeed, the whole point of the Place Responsive Design Method is not to push forward one aesthetic but rather to empower architects to combine their unique artistic voice with that of the place or site, leading to unique resilient designs deeply rooted in place. 

Kumba Case Study: Testing the Responsive Design Method

You might be asking how we can be sure that the method works. To demonstrate the method’s ability to foster resilience, I elaborated a case study project of a fictitious global co-living chain, Kumba, opening three locations across the globe – in Paris, France ; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago and Washington D.C., United States of America.

As I used the Place Responsive Design Method to design the case studies, I compiled a book of all the research and data from the Place Responsive Design Method pillar study as well as design triggers that instructed all aspects of the design of the three case study Kumba buildings. The result is three buildings with many similarities and a common brand and user experience but that foster resilience through a unique and tailored approach to the incorporation of the local economy and materiality, healthy living and well-being, conservation of environmental assets, and climatic and energy performance.

More on the Kumba Case Study.

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