Culture of climate emergency

If you are interested in understanding how your organisation should perform in the climate emergency then you should be interested in organisational culture. An emergency is a state in which we require people to behave differently to normal and take urgent action.

We can understand organisational culture as the way a group of people get things done. If we want people to behave differently in the climate emergency then we need to change our organisational culture to one that is more appropriate to the urgency of the situation.

Continue reading “Culture of climate emergency”

Training with audio in the age of Zoom.

Merely create something today - an invitation not to worry and focus instead on regular practice.

In March 2020 we were all sent home and we discovered we could meet using video conferencing instead. Suddenly our wide-angled world was sliced to a quarter of its width. Our body language receptors had to cope with just head and shoulders rendered in a tiny square. And our brains had to work much harder to make sense of this reduced world view.

Just because we have lost something doesn’t mean we have to replace it anew. Just because we can substitute IRL for Zoom doesn’t mean we always should.

Continue reading “Training with audio in the age of Zoom.”

Training course – Introduction to Conceptual Design for Structural Engineers

Diagram showing a kaleidoscope that I use to represent the Kalideascope concept

This course, which I deliver at Constructivist for the Institution of Structural Engineers is my longest running conceptual design training course. It is an introductory course, which splits conceptual design up into three phases: establishing the brief, creative thinking and convergent thinking and provides simple models for understanding each of these phases.

Continue reading “Training course – Introduction to Conceptual Design for Structural Engineers”

Three ideas for bearing witness to the climate emergency

Image showing Boscaslte harbour, which experienced in 2004 the most extreme weather event ever seen in the UK, according to HR Wallingford.

A year on from declarations of climate emergency in the construction industry I am looking for ways to carry on emphasising the scale of the problem and the scale of the action we need to take. I feel that behind these bold declarations of emergency we are no closer to seeing the system-wide changes that we need and are instead focusing on smaller details.

Continue reading “Three ideas for bearing witness to the climate emergency”

Book notes – The Hidden Life of Trees

Black and white image of a tree canopy in winter, looking a bit like a series of river tributaries joining together.

It feels right as I take on my new role at Hazel Hill Wood to read the Hidden Life of Trees. This is an evolving post based on notes I take as I read through the book.

From the foreward: ‘The author’s deep understanding of the lives of trees, reached through decasdes of careful observation and study, reveals a world so astonishing that if you read his book, I believe that forests will become magical places for you too.’

Continue reading “Book notes – The Hidden Life of Trees”

Working notes on feedback as a design tool

This week I ran a workshop with undergraduate students at Imperial College working in design teams at imperial. the aim was to show that it is much easier to give feedback when you a working from a common set of expectations. But this feedback approach can go much further than supporting good team dynamics – itself very important – it can be used as a tool for creative thinking and exploring new ground. Here is a summary of the ten most common points that came up during my conversations with students.

Continue reading “Working notes on feedback as a design tool”

It’s the invisible ingredients in the design dough that makes it rise

There used to be a sign outside a bakery in London that said something along the lines of, ‘it’s the invisible ingredients – love, care and attention – that make our bread taste so good. This aphorism often comes to mind when I am running sessions on how to interpret a design brief. Understanding the ingredients can really help the design rise.

Continue reading “It’s the invisible ingredients in the design dough that makes it rise”

Unreliable briefs – finding the deeper design narrative

Oliver Broadbent looks into an attache case to illustrate the concept of unreliable briefs in design

It is tempting to think of a design brief as wholly reliable, a document that contains all the information necessary to execute the design. But design briefs are rarely as reliable as that. In fact we should expect them to be unreliable to start with. Our job as designers is to make our briefs more reliable. To help, I have been playing with the literature concept of the unreliable narrator to help characterise types of unreliable briefs.

Continue reading “Unreliable briefs – finding the deeper design narrative”