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ARCHIFYNOW > HIGHLIGHTS > Expert Advices 10 Ways to Start A Successful Architecture Firm by Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

Expert Advices: 10 Ways to Start A Successful Architecture Firm by Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

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Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

When an architect wishes to start their own architecture firm, there are many options to go through the beginning of its development process. Referring to the book Architect's Essentials of Starting, Assessing and Transitioning a Design Firm by Peter Piven and Bradford Perkins, Realrich Sjarief as the principal architect of RAW Architecture mentioned ten ways architects usually take on to start an architecture firm.

1. Major Client as First-Stage Booster Rocket

In this case, the new architecture firm needs to get a major client such as corporates or public figures who can raise the firm popularity and make it well-known. Through this method, the architect needs to find a client who is willing to take risks and give the architecture firm freedom in the designing process. The new architecture firm also needs to deliver the design results well.

Similar case happens when the newly-started architecture firm can win an open major competition. A notable example of architect becoming famous through getting big clients and projects is Andra Matin when designing Le Bo Ye.

2. House for Mother

The most common way of freshly graduated architects starting an architecture firm is working on family projects or even their own homes. Even though this kind of project tends to be little on economic value, there is Robert Venturi who made a name for himself by designing home for his own family.

Expert Advices: 10 Ways to Start A Successful Architecture Firm by Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

RAW Architecture's Office by Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

3. Academic Incubator

Pursuing career through a teaching position in architecture can provide time and connection to build credibility and reputation. Expert lecturers can certainly be trusted in handling projects.

Architect Thom Mayne began his career as a lecturer and simultaneously worked on several side projects. He was entrusted with more projects afterwards hence he finally decided to be a full-time architect.

4. Better Mousetrap (Finding a Need and Filling It)

In order to start an architecture firm, you can choose to do particular projects which have not been done by other architecture firms. By using this method, the architect will take on projects with special challenges.

The architect also needs to strive in overcoming the challenges as there is little to no precedent in handling such projects. For example, Yu Sing is an architect who focuses on handling specific projects through his architecture firm Studio Akanoma, namely building a humble home for the underprivileged.

Expert Advices: 10 Ways to Start A Successful Architecture Firm by Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

Kampung Susun Produktif Tumbuh Cakung by Studio Akanoma

5. Super salesperson

The ability to sell, persuade, and build a good relationship with clients is a valuable talent. This ability will help a new architecture firm to secure big projects.

6. Sponsors

Several new architecture firms are able to get exposure through senior architects. Through diligent networking, senior architects might take interests and introduce to potential clients.

One precedent of architect firm built through this method is Michael Graves, an American architect who won Portlandia Building with Phillip Johnson as a jury.

7. Golden Handshake

When resigning from the previous architecture firms, make sure to leave on a good note. Having a good relationship with previous employers can lead to partnerships in future projects.

8. Spin-off

Building reputation by working in a big architecture firm while also doing moonlight project ― a side project done separately from the firm's projects ― becomes the most popular way of starting a new, successful architecture firm. This method is done by many architects for relatively small projects at first. After gaining enough experiences by working for other architecture firms, many architects are then starting their own firms.

9. The Phoenix (Rebuild of An Existing Firm)

Contrary to the spin-off method, young architects is taking over the existing architecture firm in this method. A crisis period in a big architecture firm might happen, creating a momentum of the take-over.

As this method requires a broad understanding of financial and organisational structure, it also gives an opportunity for young architects to start an architecture firm on a large scale immediately.

10. Starting Small

In the end, starting small is the most commonly done method. Most of the young architects start their own architecture firm by doing small-scale projects. As time progresses, the young architecture firm will start working on bigger-scale projects in accordance with their understanding and experiences. A careful plan for the future is certainly needed. Aboday Architect is one precedent of architecture firm started with this method.

It should be noted that most architects doing this method have worked in other architecture firms first in a long enough period of time. The goal is understanding the complexity of many projects, starting from small to large-scale projects.

Expert Advices: 10 Ways to Start A Successful Architecture Firm by Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture

Playhouse by Aboday Architect

There are many ways in starting a successful architecture firm. The most important thing is having the right mindset and effort in getting projects and executing them consistently well.

Original article by Catharina Kartika Utami

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ArchifyNow is an online design media that focuses on bringing quality updates of architecture and interior design in Indonesia and Asia Pacific. ArchifyNow curates worthwhile design stories that is expected to enrich the practice of design professionals while introducing applicable design tips and ideas to the public.
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