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Architects about briefing: Recommendations to improve communication between clients and architects

Purpose This paper aims to provide a better understanding of how architects perceive and use briefing documents. It discusses what type of briefing information architects find relevant for their design process, and how and when briefing information should be presented. It also gives recommendations for clients and consultants that produce the brief. Design/methodology/approach The article is based on a review of briefing literature, six exploratory interviews with two clients, two architects and two consultants, 18 in-depth interviews with Dutch architects, and a workshop with Dutch experts on briefing. Findings A brief (or program of requirements) is a crucial means of communication in the interaction between clients and architects. A good brief explains what the client needs, desires and expects from a project. This is all crucial information for the design process. In the interviews, however, many architects indicated that, in daily practice, briefing documents are not as useful as they should be. In their opinion, briefs are often too long, containing overly-detailed specifications, that are not always clear, consistent or complete. Practical implications In addition to the analysis of architects' complaints, six recommendations are given with respect to the briefing process, the contents and structure of the brief, and the status of the brief. Originality/value Most publications on briefing focus on the client and brief writing at the start of a project. The present paper discusses the opinions and experiences of the architect and the use of the brief in the design process.