Design Charrette explained for all those creatives on a tight deadline

Over the past five years, the American Institute of Architects London/ UK Chapter has held a Design Charrette for students and professionals.

While organising the event last year, I encountered a lot of people who didn’t know what a charrette was. A term that I took for granted studying in Vancouver was not widely known in London. Beaux Arts terminology seems to be far more engrained in US/ Canadian architectural education than in the UK. So, for this year’s event, I decided to look for an appropriate definition in the hope that it would attract more interest in the event.

It’s a French term, meaning cart or wagon, and originates from the …cole des Beaux Arts, in 19th century Paris. A charrette signified the intense, final period of work before a deadline. At the Beaux Arts, a cart or wagon was used to collect the students’ drawings at the time of submission deadlines.

As is often the way, the students worked desperately right until the last minute, and at times would attempt to add finishing touches to their work as it was being wheeled away on the cart. Hence the term ‘en charrette’.

The term is now used by creatives to describe the trauma of a rushed deadline, but it is also about design discourse, and the process of initialising ideas.

This year’s theme of High Dense and City Living is inspired by the current discourse on urban regeneration and the event is open to all students and design professionals.

The jury includes Paul Finch, Zaha Hadid, Jane Wernick, James Pickard, Andrew Wright, and Christina Seilern. Contact me at 0207 404 3377 or, or the AIA London/ UK at 0207 930 9124.

Yasin Visram

Koetter, Kim & Associate

London WC2

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