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This practice encourages potential building developers to carry out their own 'pre-work' before involving the architect.
The term comes from management theory by Scientific Methods Inc. and refers to preparatory thinking and preparation which permits the main task to go ahead with minimised potential for misunderstanding, doubt and anxiety by participants, including the architect.

One part is the obvious. Get to know this web site so that the words and their meaning and their application has the same emphasis and force to the developer as to the architect.

Another part is to set out in writing the measures against which the physical solution proposals will be measured for fit, goal achievement, and where aspects are being traded off.
This is the 'brief' architects refer to.

It should talk about:

  • the people (you), your dreams, resources, concerns, SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, threats]
  • priorities, must haves, would be nice to have, what isn't important
  • the land, its attributes, orientation, size, slope, soils, vegetation
  • where the building might go, its relation to access, services, views, sun
  • the building, why a building at all, how small can the building be made
  • what the building might contain and what links to what
  • talk about budget realities
  • consider the process of securing the building, your work, your organisation,
    tradespeoples' work, builders, and the support professionals and beauracrats
    and how you would want to involve these in getting the solution on the ground
  • what lifecycle changes of the family may the building need to adapt to
  • what things might happen later and be usefully be allowed for in
    the strategic planning [swimming pool, horse track, airfield, etc.]
  • what 'feel' is expected, building style, material preferences, disposition

    It is unwise to give a technical brief [room A x metres by y metres] or to be didactic about siting or functional relationships. This path leads to ordinary solutions and misses opportunities.

    It is normal for the architect's scheme to come out quite differently to what you may envisage.
    After all, the decades of experience in problem solving and unique solutions can see possibilities you will never have seen in your wandering in the display villages.

    It is this design from first principles that brings together the cost effective capital works and low environmental impact and running costs of the projects shown in the 'projects' section of this web site.

    Don't be surprised that your first attempt at a brief will be short on capturing the real issues you do know are there buried in your head.
    The sketch design and design development phases are where your level of knowledge rises through the discussions with the architect, and thus your ability to flesh out your brief.
    This is an iterative process, with reviews and feedback loops at regular stages.

    Many 'people' obstacles have to be overcome in converting a brief to an habitable building.
    Many of your choices are set by cultural predisposition, particularly how you yourself grew up.
    If your childhood home had a toilet in its own cubicle, you may assume 'toilet' means a separate cubicle from the bathroom. There are however several positives in space and budget terms for the toilet pan to be within a bathroom space.

    Expect the design process to challenge your presumptions.
    It asks you instead to consider each element of the project from a 'value for money' stand point, where the benefits and problems are identified, and merit is established.
    So in your brief, try to identify what cultural arteries in your make up may already be hardened and will need surgery.

    End of section