"What is a Cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" Oscar Wilde. We are living in times where we are constantly having to assess relative value against the means available to us. What, we may ask, represents ‘value for money’?
This is true in our personal lives as we struggle with making ends meet, in our business as we face difficult financial challenges and yet strive to offer exceptional design and value to our clients, and equally as we evolve projects that have tighter and tighter budget constraint and yet still aim to have a unique intrinsic value.
All projects ultimately have to show value for money.
But what is value and who determines the measure? Is it possible to compare the monetary value of Van Gogh’s Sunflower’s painting with a parents appreciation of their child’s first marks.
An attempt to create a broader evaluation of value is inscribed in the attached diagram where the vertical axis denotes the measurable to immeasurable and the horizontal axis, authorship to recipient.
Interestingly each of the quadrants gives a different appreciation of what values might be. For instance if we are looking at the value of an architectural project in the quadrant author/immeasurable we might have qualities such as enjoyment, pride satisfaction. In the quadrant recipient/measurable it may be meeting the brief, functionality and efficiency.
Critical is the need to constantly review the position from which value is being assessed. By broadening the base of that assessment the true value of architecture’s contribution to the environment and its communities can be first justified and then realised. Albert Einstein nicely summed it up...
"Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value."