Baupiloten method

In order to design user-oriented architecture in which people feel comfortable and which meets their needs, Baupiloten sets out to learn what kind of vision users have for the new building or renovation. What spatial qualities, what spatial atmosphere should be created? Users are the experts of their own living situations. Our method to get to these answers is goal-oriented and jet entirely open to what the users have in mind. We listen, we observe, we ask questions.

We want to bring togethers users, clients, and the many experts dealing with detailed questions concerning construction, financing, and administration to speak with each other at eye level. We approach each project with specific instruments from our toolbox of methods. These methods build upon each other throughout several steps, and we apply them precisely to the situation at hand. We want to reach a common goal efficiently, but we also want to be conceptional playful throughout the process of working with everyone to achieve the right result.

The architectural planning begins only after this initial phase is completed.


Each step of the processes is made up of different method modules, depending on the project. This results in customized processes that can vary in length, depending on objectives, desired intensity, and depth of discussion.

Each instrument is used to specify tasks, step-by-step.

To start with, we inquire using simple methods:

a flash survey, for example, to gauge spontaneous impressions and wishes, and "whisper rounds,” in which small groups come together to openly exchange ideas.

The “wish mobile" addresses people in situ spontaneously. They then write down their ideas and suggestions on "wish postcards" and can be invited to participate in further workshops and other activities.

Workshops provide an opportunity for an intuitive exploration of needs and the ideas expressed for ideal spatial atmospheres.

These atmospheres can be expressed, for example in picture collages or other visualizing methods in which the character of a building can be communicated and further negotiated. Participants further solidify and interrogate their ideas of spatial qualities, the structure itself, or the effect of a planned renovation or new building; they also see the ideas of other group members.

Buildings must meet complex requirements, often with divergent ideas for optimal use. Baupiloten’s “vision negotiation games” thus bring all parties and ideas to the table, shedding light upon how life in an ideal building might look like. Participants can quickly agree on desired activities and associated spatial atmospheres. Playfully yet still according to precise rules, these ideas are negotiated, and synergies are determined — all without any specific architectural plans yet being fixed.

The results of the “vision negotiation game” are diagrams that show functional relationships, utilization combinations, and the atmospheres desired for them. The game can be played in several groups, whose results are then checked for conceptual and spatial overlaps and combined into an overall result.

Visions alone do not build houses, of course, so Baupiloten’s "thinking ahead" planning games further sharpen and negotiate participants’ ideas concerning spatial concepts of utilization, and the optimal atmospheres for each.

The results from this stage have become concretized, not only quantitatively but also in specific terms of spatial, structural and aesthetic qualities...

... and room allocation plans.

If it is desired, Baupiloten continues to advocate for users beyond the participation process.

Feasibility studies build on their results and show how utilization concepts and programs for imagining space could lead to optimal urban planning solutions and suitable architecture.


Process results also flow into the concrete work of our architecture, which is then structured according to all of the service phases of HOAI (1-9), the official German Fee Regulation for Architects and Engineers. In order to know whether we are on the right track with our studies or concrete designs, we have developed methods to solicit people involved in the project to participate in this stage of planning as well.

The instruments of Baupiloten are also designed in such a way that the results developed can also be used in future collaborations with other architects.

Ultimately, participatory planning not only enables architecture that meets users’ needs, it also generates a high level of satisfaction among users and clients, forging exemplary opportunities for identification, which in turn promotes the sustainability of construction into the future. User knowledge becomes a key basis for planning. Participation helps in effective decision-making, which also conserves space and thus client funds, if the need turns out to be less extensive than previously assumed. Targeted construction can be done in the existing building stock.

In the evaluative performance, phase 10, buildings may be periodically examined and then structurally adaptedto any newly appropriate use.


The manual "ARCHITECTURE IS PARTICIPATION" describes the Baupiloten method in detail. It explores the question of how involvement and participation in planning processes can work and demonstrates this on international, multi-award-winning projects by the architects Baupiloten. The book offers suggestions and instructions for designing participatory planning processes and is aimed at everyone who is interested in a democratic planning and building culture.

The manual is available in German, English, Kazakh and Russian.


In the Baupiloten academy, Baupiloten introduce their methodology in training courses and seminars, explain the processes used, the principle of the workshops and the different method modules.