Building is a response to dreams and needs.
It starts with a situation, sometimes complex, that is both physical and cultural. The environment and context are accessible to observation. But the details of the cultural conditions can only be communicated by the people involved—not only client proper, but also the users, neighbors, builders, and others who will be directly or indirectly effected.
Design is by its nature an attempt to initiate change. And so it is important to assess the conditions as they were, as they are, and as they will be. We do research. We listen to what people think. We try for a collaborative process.
It is often useful to imagine an ideal response to a program. Constraints, however, are always there. While budget, bugs, construction options, codes, and other inevitables present a challenge to design ideas they also confirm what is necessary. The dialogue between the ideal and the real brings the project into focus.