Lockdown Sessions: Is Communication Failing Development Culture?

The latest in our series of Lockdown Session digital discussions looked at the whole issue of communication and whether it is proving adequate when it comes to delivering the right kind of developments. Or indeed, getting developments off the ground at all.

With many local authorities now having less architects, developers and other built environment professionals working directly for them, they must outsource these services.

This can add an extra layer of complexity to communications, leading to delays, crossed wires and even confrontation.

If we recognise that good development is for the general benefit of all, then it’s important that the relationships between local authorities and the developers and professionals they work with are as co-operative and collaborative as possible.

At the same time, many of these large authorities may be underusing or missing out on their own resources simply because their inter-departmental communications are not sufficiently clear or adaptable.

The difficulty with poor communication is that it can feel almost elemental, like a natural condition that everyone feels they have to learn to live with.

Meanwhile, the pace of development is slowing, and some completed developments are failing to sufficiently meet local needs.

Why Communication is Relevant

The built environment is built on relationships as much as it is on structures and their surroundings.

How well we communicate can set the tone for collaboration and either boost or deplete levels of energy and enthusiasm for a project.

And at concept stage, communication is absolutely critical. Get this wrong, or muddled, and the project risks being compromised at the outset.

Furthermore, in an increasingly atomised working environment, where outsourcing multiple functions is becoming the norm, clear communication is ever more vital.

We think of technology as an enabler, especially in the built environment, with the rapid digitalisation of some sectors.

We see this accelerating with BIM and with integrated project management through mobile devices and remote working.

But without basic, human communication underpinning these things, these tools risk being under-used, or worse, misused.

Knowing What Your Assets Are

When looking at local needs the question of whether to rebuild or refurbish comes up again and again.

It encompasses issues to do with heritage and function, and what people want from their amenities and facilities, and what connects them as a community.

Problems arise when commissioning authorities are unsure of their own assets and resources, or they fail to listen adequately to the concerns of communities when commissioning developments.

If communication fails at this level, then this murkiness is likely to be carried through to project stage.

Towards Openness, Clarity and Collaboration

Challenging the binary perceptions of private vs public or commercial vs community requires a nuanced approach to development.

This means picking up on things we might otherwise miss and bringing them to light, and communicating our concerns and concepts clearly and persuasively.

Successful, visionary regenerative developments are about inclusiveness and responding dynamically to local needs.

Without meaningful communication, these things cannot happen.

Thank you to our recent guests:

Stephen Gleave, Aecom
Martin Gibson, GA Studio
Ian Chadwick, Wellbeing Places
Alan Simpson, 10architect
Andrew Mitchell, RGP Architects
Josh Artus, Centric Lab
Rob Rowlands, Rob Rowlands Research

Partisan’s Lockdown Sessions

We are hosting regular, online meet-ups, forums and webinars with specially invited panels of speakers. For more information, please email hello@partisan.studio

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Eighty Twenty is a once a month invite only event for business leaders within the built environment - hosted by Partisan

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