The Power of Hindsight

Chris Alcock reflects on changes in the nature of environments for living, learning and working, the foregrounding of user experience and how we might approach briefing for the built environment.

Why is it that we rarely appreciate the power of “incremental change”?  John Worthington (co-Founder of DEGW) describes change in two forms – seismic and incremental. The former is immediately recognisable and demands action, the latter a slow, creeping evolution of ideas and innovation that in isolation seem unremarkable but in combination are profound in hindsight. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated seismic change of the first order. But do we realise that our astounding ability to respond to it has in fact been the result of incremental change in our attitudes and experiences of work and workplace over time?

Continue reading

Integrative briefing: An inclusive and iterative process

Between March and August 2021 we hosted six international Sounding Panel sessions with participants from across 16 countries and six continents.

Each session brought researchers & practitioners together to discuss, debate & evolve collective understandings of briefing from the scale of a chair to the urban context.  In particular, this process has helped expand and shape our understandings of integrative briefing & the direction of the next iteration of the book. A summary from the first six sessions can be downloaded below.

As you can see, there are still many parts of the world we haven’t heard from. If you are from a part of the world not currently represented and have an interest in briefing, or know of others who might like to contribute to the conversations, please let us know.

Cosmic circularity in the world of briefing – Part 1

Just before joining our last Sounding Panel session on design for human experience, Anna Maskiell from Public Realm Lab took a moment to reflect on the past.

Information Technology department, Thycon Industries, Coburg (Wolfgang Sievers, 1984)

1983 was a pretty big year as far as I’m concerned. I was born (always useful!), Fraggle Rock debuted and the Thriller video was released (still influential in the schoolyard 9 or 10 years later). Wolfgang Sievers continued to document the landscape of work in Melbourne, but the heroic images of Australian manufacturing were starting to give way to images of knowledge workers, in their salmon cubicles under a relentless march of ceiling tiles.

Continue reading

In the room

Sam Cassels reflects on the paradox that a brief for the city reflects both the grand sweeps of policy and the worms  eye view of the neighbourhood. The power of words and elegance of writing are an artistic statement as much as the design of the built statement being discussed.

©Felipe Basto https://www.instagram.com/felipebastosnyc/?hl=en

A day in New York in early spring.  The avenues and streets crowded with short stories, torn fragments of Hopper paintings and Mapplethorpe images, kaleidoscopic stills from a thousand movie clichés flickering on skyscraper screens. 

Continue reading

Briefing – the art of dialogue

Briefing is a process of ‘thinking through design’ – both using design as a process for solving problems and establishing a coherence behind a design. It is concerned with creating a dialogue between those for whom a project has significance and those who have responsibility for designing and managing it. Participation is key, but the process of briefing should be carefully managed.

Continue reading

Designing from Inside Out: Lessons from Sydney

Strong client leadership, a clear and well articulated innovative vision for education, and iconic architect Frank Gehry promises to do more than just raise the profile of the business school at University of Technology, Sydney. There are lessons for all of us.

The scaffolding is coming off Frank Gehry's new building for the new business school at the University of Technology, Sydney. (c) Roy Green

The scaffolding is now coming off Frank Gehry’s new building for the new business school at the University of Technology, Sydney. (c) Roy Green

What is really important about this project is not just the architecture itself, but the deliberate strategy of rethinking the approach to business school education before getting started on the building design. Continue reading