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Architecture, Building Design & Aura Planning

Aura planning informs the architect on some key elements of building design, putting atmosphere at the heart of the outcomes. So how do we work with architects? 

How aura planning relates to architecture and building design

All architecture has an aura. One can either hope that the design team will make a good job of creating the aura that is wanted or one can introduce aura-planning alongside the design process to improve the certainty. Attention to the aura being generated by a design can have value at any stage from inception to completion. The aura of an architectural design can start in the imagination, it can be in drawings and models, can exist in the emerging construction on site, can be impactful on completion of the construction, and it can also then continue to emerge as the building is used and populated. Therefore aura-planning is a process that can be useful at any stage in the life of a building or a built environment.

Gifted architects, whether they are working alone or leading an interdisciplinary design team, will naturally incorporate a form of the Aura Planning process into their design work. They will take a brief through an initial consultation process and develop ideas from their training, experience and architectural skills. They will then come up with options. Justification for the options will usually be in terms of the performance the architects perceive as required from the initial briefing. This should hopefully include the atmosphere and well-being intrinsic in the design approach. Such reasoning becomes the conviction that fixes the final design. 

The difficulty in this process can be the gap in expectations created between the designer and the people who instigated the project or will inherit the design. There is no specific part of the design process that really deals with this gap head on. The bigger the project the more difficult it is to close this gap. Complex consultation processes will strive to set the right direction. These processes can result in a form of ‘analysis paralysis’ which results in a perfectly logical design solution that can disappoint. The objective of Aura-planning is to work alongside the expertise needed to create the built environment and close this gap.

Making the design process better

The idea of Aura Planning came about through the study of stadium atmosphere. Stadiums need a multi professional team and one of the conclusions from the study was that putting the atmosphere at the forefront of the design process rather than one of its outcomes could assist in improving the design process and the built result. Broadly speaking the study found that atmosphere has seven key components and these relate very well to the main professions that are needed to design a building or a built environment. Using these components as a listening tool helps sort out what the different people involved want. It sets up a way of cross-referencing the inevitable differences and generates shared atmospheric descriptors. If respected by the design team, these result in a satisfying aura that all the contributing participants wanted yet still has something discoverable that delights.


The great thing about the Aura Planning process is that it doesn’t take away the opportunity for a gifted design team to create something that nobody realised they actually wanted in terms of the physical manifestation of the architecture.

Finding an architect for aura planning

You may see a building that you find brilliant and want to use its architect. You may be a client that is running a design competition. You may be a non-consumer client that wants to control the design process and make sure the design team produces exactly what you want. Aura planning helps by giving definition to the criteria for any of these approaches. It can also be a tool for choosing the method of selection itself. 

For example, the outcome of Aura-planning for your project may be comfort, safety, uniqueness and emotiveness. With these criteria you will be able to assess the submission, proposal, competition idea or past work of an architect or design team and therefore help find the right one for the project. There is always a ‘feel-factor’ to how people will work together. Aura Planning will help define what some of those feelings need to be.

Can Burland Aura Planning be the architect?

Aura-planning can be applied to just about any size of project. As size increases, so does the design team and the number of professional disciplines. Burland Aura Planning are experienced in working at all scales and with collaborative teams for very large projects. 

We can turn aura planning into design options and develop these into architectural solutions. We can also act as part of a team, supplying the architect or designer with insights into the aura users would like the building to have.
For projects such as Town centre plans will assist in forming the required specialist resources.
Collaborating with rest of the team

If there is a team in place, Burland Aura Planning would dovetail into it. We invite all the designers into the Aura Planning study for the project.

Our consultation process involves conversations with each person involved, individually, so their feelings and aspirations are heard. Then we compare and contrast those and find where there is accord, preparing a summary. This can then serve as a brief for the design team. 

Architects will say this is how they typically work. It isn’t. Insufficient time is spent identifying the aura people want, tapping into the imaginations of all users and makers and cross-referencing along the way. Design is begun too soon with the hope that it will create an aura people will like rather than setting out to create an aura that has been identified and specified.


Aura Planning in Action

If you want a building to satisfy the emotional needs of its users, then get in touch. Our Aura Planning approach is very flexible but we focus on a range of areas:


​"James’s level of detail when planning our extension was a real eye opener. After meeting with other architects it was very clear that James’s passion really stood out and that he wanted to create a space unique to our wants and needs. Aura planning was not something I had thought about before. But it was very clear that this underpinned the foundations of what both myself and my wife were REALLY looking for. I would strongly recommend his services if you're looking for something far more personal than just an extension. After a site visit and a lengthy chat with both myself and my wife, he was able to summarise both our wants and needs into a document that gave us ideas and a creative vision of how to turn our house into a home."


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