Translating clients’ ‘hopes, wishes and wants’ into ‘needs’ through Pre-Design

“Development activities that include design and construction are long drawn and expensive affairs, and sometimes  a nightmare for all participants. Business risks to the client because of budget and schedule over runs must be minimized if not eliminated entirely. And Pre-Design is a way,” opines Naresh Shah, a U.S. returned architect from Mumbai. For a person who claims to be neither a Pre-Designer nor a teacher, Naresh Shah, has been actually teaching Pre-Design for the past few years since his return.He explains this by saying that he fell into it by default.

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Having worked in USA for 35 years as an architect, he was used to working on Pre-Design as a prelude to architectural design. It was just a matter of routine. On top of that he had also worked as a staff architect and a consultant at institutions where predesigns were routinely prepared for outside design architects. On his return to India he realized the practice of Pre-Design as a supplementary architectural service was nonexistent. His sole exposure to design instruction at a college revealed that the students were neither taught Pre-Design nor allowed enough time for predesign. So, instead of fighting the system, he along with his colleague, Prasad Anaokar, developed predesign workshop as an aid for design and thesis projects for the students.

These workshops were conducted without affecting the set curriculum and the schedule. Given the limited resources and logistical support, the student workshops are progressing slowly. At this time the Council of Architecture (COA) took initiative and included predesign as a part of their ongoing “Train the Trainers” program for architectural faculty throughout India. The idea being that: this way more and more students will be exposed to predesign instruction. As an aid to faculty in this task, the Council is also publishing the book written by Naresh Shah with Prasad Anaokar on predesign. The COA is planning to distribute the book to architectural colleges nationwide. Slowly but surely this will become a part of architectural curriculum in near future.

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Introduction to Pre-Design by Shah and Prasad

“Pre-Design is a process that defines the function of the development in terms of building and site, with respect to budget and schedule. It translates the client’s ‘hopes, wishes and wants’ into what the client really ‘needs’. This is a collaborative process between a predesigner and a client. It is an ongoing interaction where the client is required to give inputs and make decisions based on the findings and alternatives presented by the Predesigners. It validates and balances client’s needs against the constraints of site, budget and schedule. In a way, Pre-Design simulates the design process, at a fraction of cost and time. This is done at the formative stage of clients’ development strategy, long before the search for an architect,” according to Naresh Shah.

For design architects, predesign gives them a good understanding of client’s needs, along with the design criteria for fulfilling those needs. Most importantly this information is made available prior to design effort. This does not eliminate the need to interact with the client. On the contrary, it forwards the action for the architects to devote more time to innovative design solutions in interaction with the clients. In his missionary zeal to promote Pre-Design amongst students, Naresh Shah is now joined by others to do the same for architectural profession. He strongly believes, ”Pre-Design is as necessary to architects and clients as diagnosis is to medical practitioners and their patients.  It is that simple.”


Naresh Shah conducted a seminar, “Pre-Design Opportunities” on 28th August 2015 at MIG Club, Bandra East, Mumbai. It was co-hosted by Gallopper.

Who attended :

  1. Professional Planners, Architects and Interior Designers.
  2. Planners, Architects and Interior Designers employed with Corporates and Institutions
  3. Facilities personnel (Contract, Project Managers, Real Estate, Finance, Maintainance) for Corporates and Institutions.
  4. Professional Research and Advisory Managers.
  5. Real Estate Fund Managers
  6. Real Estate Risk Analysts