Architecture emerges from a brief which describes the needs. It can however be a huge challenge for individuals and organisations to define and translate their often intangible needs into specific and identifiable descriptions of space, especially if your are not used to doing it. Of course as architects we can bring our experience of briefing together with the client knowledge to help that process
One way of doing it, and it is a luxury in the light of today’s procurement deadlines, is where client briefing and architectural sketch play a mental to and fro ping pong. With need and form on either side of the net, the quality of the result is echoed in the quality of game between the two of them. It requires a commitment to form however and often there might be a reluctance to follow that path for a number of reasons; perhaps the site is not yet known, a budget has not been sanctioned, or the site is a focus of a competitive exercise.
In that instance there is the alternative of making the briefing, rather than a mountain to climb, a short and sharp event as a means to gain knowledge of client needs but to do so with a bit of the spirit of the ping pong game – that is briefing as an experience.
We tried it on ourselves asking what our post employee ownership office space form should be? Three interesting observations emerged to colour our thoughts for the future.
The first envisaged a return to the street front. When we moved a number of years ago from our streetside office to our more expansive upper level accommodation we lost a little of the dynamic of being part of the everyday movement of the city. The second asked what sort of space promoted initiative, was it flexible space that could be anything? Or was it designed space that stimulated activity but with the danger of going out of date? The third focused on the tactile qualities of space; toaster smells, punch bags and boiler suits, these thoughts asking the question, is what makes us comfortable the right context for creativity...?
As a postscript note Nicole Davidson reported back on the third groups aspiration for the tactile qualities of space and experience. Three days after Nicole was knocked down by a car on her bike coming to work. We are pleased to say Nicole is out of hospital recovering.