You have to be there

In our July Sounding Panel session on Transformative Design, Adrian Leaman reiterated the five most important things to think about in architectural briefing…

The next time you see Sam Cassels – and it ideally it should be in person – get him to tell you the story of the nervous presenter confronted with an overhead projector, and baffled by the way it worked, so that every time he tried to say something he stood in front of the projected light image, thereby blocking the projection, thus preventing the audience from having any clue of what he was talking about. Which made him even more jittery and incomprehensible. The presenter should have followed Michael Caine’s advice to young actors: don’t blink, it makes you look weak.  

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Soft-skills is the key

Raymond Young discusses the importance of soft-skills for project management and invites us to participate in research contributing to the development of a tool to assess soft-skills required for project success.

Our conception of a project is probably flawed. I came across Figure 1 in a project management textbook and thought to myself, “that’s not the way it really happens”. Figure 1 gives the impression that each stage of a project takes roughly the same length of time when in fact initiation of a project can take many years (while people think about what they actually want) and realising the benefits should be as long as possible. The problem with Figure 1 is that it is a project manager’s view of the world – the focus is on planning, development and implementation.

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Value-sensitive briefing

In this blog, Theo van der Voordt and Per Anker Jensen discuss the idea of ‘value-sensitive’ design and management of the built environment.  They also reflect on different values that are encountered and the challenges to balance different values.

The concept of “value” refers to what is important to people in their lives, ethics, and morality, and to beliefs that steer our behaviour and everyday actions. In addition to universal human values, cultural differences come to the fore as well. For instance, a feminine culture is associated with being more cooperative and caring for the quality of life, whereas a masculine culture is associated with being more competitive and striving for success. Similar differences come to the fore in organisational cultures. In workplace design, a high power distance may result in a higher level of privacy, territoriality, extra square metres, and a luxurious interior design for top managers, as an expression of their status and position in the organisation. Organisations who adopt the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility will likely pay more attention to societal values such as sustainability and incorporate the triple “P” of People, Planet and Profit or Prosperity.

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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?

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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