In this two-part guest blog, Simon Foxell discusses the challenges of briefing in the context of risk and uncertainty and the need to address concurrent issues of managing demographic change and reversing environmental damage.
We live in a risky and increasingly, riskier, world, or at least a world where we are much more aware of risk than ever before and tend to employ avoidance strategies of numerous sorts. That such strategies rarely address real risks and prefer to focus on perceived ones with their, now familiar – but apparently almost impossible to contain, cognitive biases shouldn’t obscure the need to factor in real future risks. Briefing is, amongst other things, a matter of effectively, and with the right tools, projecting rationally into the future, describing its needs and dangers and flagging up possible ways of dealing with them. It is a means of coping with uncertainty by gathering and interpreting information that reduces that uncertainty. It attempts to mitigate risk: to the project, but also to the wider context – social and environmental – and much else beyond.
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?
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.
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.
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.