By Daniel Trujillano
The Architectural Design Brief
Stating Objectives and Priorities for Building Projects
The Design Brief, also called Project Brief, is a written document, which has to be translated spatially and technically by an architect. It must be written prior to the appointment of the architect. It doesn’t need to fix the form of the design but instead to provide a clear framework for the development of a design that meets the needs and aspirations of the architectural services’ client. A good, thorough brief will form the basis of the professional agreement the client will sign with the architect. Clarity on services, costs, timings and procedures is vital to the relationship. The brief should provide a coherent description of the project, which can be understood by all those likely to use it. It should clearly identify the objectives and main priorities of the project. It should articulate the specific needs and aspirations of the client and also the issues relating to the site and situation which the architect will have to address and respond in his design.
Writing the Design Brief
The Design Brief will draw together and synthesize diverse sources of information. It can follow on from a Strategic Brief or a Feasibility Study and can give a precis of the decisions arrived at. The following sources of information may be helpful:
- Briefs for a similar type of project
- Generic guidance and empirical evidence about space standards and performance requirements. Generic guidance should always be tuned to the specific site and requirements.
- Existing buildings and spaces as a qualitative reference.
The process of producing a brief can be carried out by developing a series of drafts, which contributors can review and amend. For large projects, it may be convenient to count with the expert advice of an architect to compile the brief.
Eventually, the contents page should give a skeletal overview of the content of the Design Brief. The headings should organise the information and provide a framework.
Aims of the Architecture Design Brief
The principle aim of the Design Brief is to communicate the client’s expectations to the architect. A good Design Brief should set out:
- The mission. Vision for the Project.
- The objectives
- The performance requirements and measures. Practical requirements for the relationship between spaces, focusing on performance requirements rather than detail. It may be convenient to give a schedule of areas (possibly arising from a Feasibility Study) but it’s better to expect the architect to review these figures as they develop a spatial strategy for the project.
- The design criteria and principles for the design
- The priorities
- The management decisions and responsibilities. Who is expected to respond?
- The timeframe. Limits about the timescale.
- The limits about the budget
- As much factual information about the current condition of the building or site as is available. It may be convenient to give a summary and include relevant drawings and document in the appendix.