We are writing a document called 'How we Work'. It is a big project, putting down on paper what goes on in our heads - whether it is intuitive, a reaction to circumstances and or even just habit.
Why are we doing this? Fundamentally it is about determining how we, as an employee owned business, collaborate effectively and efficiently with a common sensibility amongst ourselves, and then how we use that as a springboard to work with our clients and their projects.
Looking inwardly first, we recognise that our group represents a broad spectrum of characters, some quite voluble, others discursive, a few quietly articulate. A reflective listening and then drafting of documentation, absorbing these different styles into an office methodology, is important to creating a common and shared foundation for our practice.
That agreed common base gives us a clearer unified platform to work with our clients in developing their projects, and of course in the longer run, in the development of the final architecture of the places we shape.
What is the first draft of our documentation saying? Common to our approach is the idea of the big circular table around which we all sit - the first stage in getting all to share. Within that big table are a host of inner tables that represent all the micro-management tasks, like finance and resources, to do the job and those that reflect the operational business - like thinking about the context and how we achieve delivery of our projects.
The imaginative step change is to envisage this model in 3 dimensions - that is, the tables sitting on each other. The resulting ziggurat of tables we have re-imagined as a 'lander' prompted by the echo of the 'Philae' Lander on comet '67p'. A lander, however, not for some remote interplanetary rock with an inbuilt toolkit to test the environment and material underfoot, but imagined dropped into each setting we operate in, assessing the present and imagining the future context and use with all the technical back up to assess appropriateness of what we do in each circumstance.
That way, how we work as architects and designers and the way we imagine ourselves operating as a business become synonymous. Each project is seen as unique, with its own requirements and issues - and its own place specific representation of our business 'lander' with its associated array of architectural and organisational tools.