This post is another in my series about inputs to the creative process, what I call ‘Filling the Kalideascope‘. Today’s input is visiting the site, and it cuts the heart of what it means to be a human designer.

The science of embodied cognition tells us that humans perceive and understand the world be moving through it. As Matthew Crawford describes in his book ‘The World Beyond Your Head’, our brains and our bodies work together to understand the world. Our brains are not isolated entities developing theories about the world based on reason alone, but are coupled to our bodies, an incredible, self-propelling, nimble, dexterous organism that can move around and explore the world. In this framing, we understand the world by moving through it; not by looking at images of it.

So, as I wrote in my ‘How to have Ideas’ in the the Institution of Structural Engineers’ book ‘Conceptual Design of Buildings’

go to site, walk around, get down and smell the earth, lay down and look at the sky, get up high and gaze down from above, close your eyes and look with your ears. Embody the information that the site has to offer and let it seep deep inside. Capture what you learn with photos, videos and sketches (because to draw you really need to see, not just look), so that you can share this information with the rest of the team.

Broadbent, O. (2020). How to have ideas. In Conceptual Design of Buildings (pp. 8–22). The Institution of Structural Engineers.

This suggestion go to site doesn’t just apply to buildings; it is a subset of a more general suggestion to involve your body in the data gathering for any creative project. Whether you are designing an event or creating an app, use your body to help you think about what the setting is like and how you interact with it.

And remember, when you are there to capture passing questions, information and ideas as I described in last week’s post on the Brief Explosion. They are all fleeting: available the one minute and then gone the next.