london-clientmanagementonhouse-2009.pdf (4 MB)
Client managment on house projects : faciliating client learning for successful architect-client relationships
conference contributionposted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by Jessica Siva, Kerry London
This paper reports the findings of a study which examined architect-client relationships on house projects with a focus on the supportive role of architects in helping clients deal with project issues. Habitus theory explains that the nature of architecture as a specialised activity places architects within an architectural habitus, distinguishing them from clients who are not trained in the field, which is at the heart of the problematic architect-client relationship. An underlying premise was that habitus shock, that is, a mismatch between the architect and client's habituses Occurs as they enter into a relationship on the house project. Using the qualitative approach underpinned by the constructivist perspective for data collection and analysis, eight in-depth interviews were conducted across five case studies of successful architect-client relationships. The narrative inquiry approach was used to establish the extent to which habitus shock occurred and to describe the stages involved in the client's adjustment process during habitus shock. The findings indicate that habitus shock occurred on all five case studies, which resulted in client learning, enabling clients to function with competency in the unfamiliar environment. Client learning achieved during habitus shock was directly linked to the amount of difficulty experienced. This study has refined our understanding of the architect-client relationship on house projects by exploring more deeply client behaviour and the ways in which clients successfully deal with difficulties on house projects rather than simply identifying the uncertainties and conflicts that occur on projects. The findings demonstrate that client learning during habitus shock is a characteristic of successful relationships. One of the most significant outcomes of thi s study is that it demonstrated the potential to facilitate client learning during habitus shock to contribute to the development of successful architect-client relationships.