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How does social interaction influence the collaborative design process? July 7, 2015

Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
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How do disciplinary roles and relationships influence the design process?

A research study at the University of Central Lancashire has already prompted some interesting discussion about  collaboration.  The study is now exploring these issues further by directly observing a number of design teams in practice.

I would like to observe your design team meetings. You won’t need to make any adjustments to your working practice or how you run the meeting. I will simply attend and film proceedings. Project teams can have 3 or 30 participants, but must contain an architect and other built environment disciplines.  Resulting data will then be analysed to explore the nature of relationships between the disciplinary roles in the design team. All participants will receive a full report of the study findings. In addition, I would be happy to give a presentation of findings specific to your design team and/or your organisation, if you would find this useful. This may be provided as a brief CPD event.

I will not conduct any research work without your full consent. All data will be stored in a password protected file and will not be shared. No individuals or organisations will be recorded or named and no commercial information will be recorded in the study. No judgements will be made about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ practices – the analysis intends to be an objective snapshot of how we tend to work right now.

Your involvement in the study would be really appreciated and I hope that the direct observation of how we work in practice will offer some insights into the way that built environment professionals can collaborate more effectively in future.

If you would like your design team meetings to be observed, please contact me as soon as possible either by email at jebarrett@uclan.ac.uk to receiver further information and/or a consent form.


The Dynamics of Design July 29, 2014

Posted by jennibarrett in Research.
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Do our social interactions have any influence on our collaborative design decisions?

Can we influence the social dynamics in teams to design better buildings?

This are the questions asked by my PhD study.  I’ve recently canvassed practitioners for some answers.  Click below for a Study Update…..


Study Update June2014_Page_1

Study Update June2014_Page_2

 Images courtesy of Andrei Giurgea

The Social Life of the Novel Idea May 16, 2013

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The Idea So Far….

I recently presented my current research project at an architectural research seminar at the School of Built & Natural Environment, UCLan.  The research project aims to link social behaviour to design outcomes, deriving a social model of the design process.

You can view the Prezi slides here….


Architecture is a hoodie June 19, 2012

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Continuing from the previous post “The Architectural Roman Nose“……

2  Architecture is a hoodie………

The previous post looked at how we might think about design as a version of the process of natural selection – a process of modification and selection subject to the pressures of the cultural environment.

In “The Architectural Roman Nose,” it was possible to see how aesthetic traits were naturally selected and reappeared through generations of buildings.  Here, the evolutionary analogy is developed to explore how the cultural environment shapes this process of selection.

Think about any social grouping – institutional or otherwise – from the Royal Institute of British Architects to a group of teenagers hanging out down the Trafford Centre.  What’s the difference, you might ask?!!  Well, actually, not a lot.  According to Social Darwinist, Herbert Spencer, in his “Principles of Sociology,” he describes social forms and institutions as organisms, evolving in competition with other social groups and in response to the physical environment around it.  The teenagers will dress to compete with other groups of teenagers and to appropriate their position in the context of the shopping centre.

Fashion as a result of the socio-cultural environment (from the film, Kidulthood).

So, fashions in design, are a direct result of the wider socio-cultural environment.  Think the emergence of Modernism after the chaos of war.

Steadman develops this idea to say that differences in architectural style and form are not due to the inventiveness or creativity of the designer, but a simple response to the social conditions and utilitarian needs imposed by the environment around them.  Selection criteria are established during the design process are a direct result of the needs and conditions of the users, critics and clients.

An example of this process might be the architectural student who selects and discards design ideas in anticipation of reviewer requirements to ensure a positive experience in the crit.

Source:  The Big Idea

This echoes Simonton (Origins of Genius) who observes that art would be a much simpler pastime if only artists needed to produce “aesthetic variants on a particular style” suggesting that selection criteria exist and are imposed by the cultural environment – in this case, the readers, audiences and patrons.

The cultural environment operates on a micro level too.  Selection pressures are also exerted by the collective attributes of the design team – its personalities, skills and roles.  How these collective attributes influence design decision-making is yet to be explored fully in research – one for the to do list…….

P.S. For the record, I am in no way advocating the Trafford Centre as a piece of exemplary architecture.