I’ve recently noticed that some of my best creative ideas happen during the evening hours and started to wonder why.
Some of it might stem from architecture school, where we spend many late hours on our projects. I often wondered if our professors were hazing us or giving us some sort of payback for what they endured as students. Either way, we spend a lot of time on projects. Everyone worked long hours, especially a couple of days before it was due. Ask any architect if they ever worked an all-nighter. Most of us hold it as a badge of honor and will immediately tell you how many days we worked without sleep. My personal record is 48 hours without sleep, but you will hear tales of people seeing 2 or 3 sunrises.
What I discovered during school is some of the most creative ideas happened during those late-night sessions. This is still true today for me and most of the staff. There is something about the pressure of a deadline which makes you streamline your thought process. This usually means we remove as much fluff in the design as possible. Perhaps the more streamlined approach allows the core design philosophy to be clearer and not cluttered by extraneous stuff. When this laser focus comes into play, other parts of the design can appear fussy and unnecessary. Of course, this results in re-examining what you have done so far, which leads to more changes and increased urgency.
Another factor for me is that during normal business hours, I often find it hard to concentrate on design issues. I suspect the constant phone ringing and interruptions make it difficult to get those creative juices flowing. During those times, we sometimes just have to put a job aside because we aren't inspired. Looking back, I have compared projects where we worked late to the ones during the 8-5 design schedule. The late-night projects almost always seem to be designed better.
For me, there is something about the evening hours that allow my brain to discover those creative ideas on projects. I love being creative and if that means continued late work hours to provide the best architecture, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Thankfully, I have a wife who encourages me to follow my passion, even if it takes all night.