INF536 – Blog Task #3: Design Brief

Background Discovery

In Blog task #2  I identified and described a design problem involving the changed arrangements to enter our school during the current period of renovation and rebuilding which is expected to last for 12-18 months. The entrance to the school has been relocated and through my immersion it has become apparent that the new arrangement is ambiguous, and potentially unsafe.


  • front entrance will not be available for up to 12 months
  • entrances via car park are the only alternatives
  • entrance is temporary, therefore cost must be minimal
  • the school is surrounded with security fencing, constraining access

& Tensions

  • driver behaviour in the car park during the peak period before school is generally poor
  • limited time available to solve the problem

 Known Knowns

  • Majority of students are driven to school, parking is always at a premium
  • Visitors must be able to enter the grounds
  • Peak time of visitor arrivals coincides with beginning and end of the school day and the car park is busy
  • Security fence provides a ‘hanging’ space
  • Security fence presents a ‘fortress’ view of the school to first time visitors

Unknown unknowns 

  • How might we establish how visitors are reacting? [no one has complained]
  • How have potential new families responded to a confusing, ambiguous entrance? … sought another school?
  • How has the loss of productivity [from constant interruptions, potential for increased work hours, cost of overtime] affected office efficiency as the staff walk the 70+metres to and from the gate to meet visitors?
  • How might we know if visitors and community members  will accept the change?
  • How have visitors reacted to calling and being met at the gate – has this made the entrance to the school easier and more friendly?


How might we utilize the building programme as an opportunity to create a safe and welcoming entrance to the school for all visitors and community members?

Ideate Potential solutions

  • Give open-ended questions to an inter-disciplinary team [visitor, parent, construction foreman] to seek their responses/ideas/thoughts

  • Teachers of years 3-6 take their students for a ‘walk through’ – come back and brainstorm their thoughts [post-it notes…or attempt hexagonal thinking?]

  • Create signage, clear, concise and unambiguous, to set a welcoming tone – – “thank you for your patience during the building programme”…

    • …being mindful of the ‘user’ eg  for the smartphone user, install QR code on fence – link to map, provide phone contact details

    • consider portable sandwich board signs to offer directions when on the school grounds

    • create cutouts of a boy and girl student in uniform, walking – add to fence to show the  way to the gate

    • keep the colour palette simple – school colours plus red [where needed to alert to danger]

    • seek installation of ‘shared zone’ signs at entrance from street to carpark [as is customary wherever people and cars ‘co-exist’

    • temporarily relocate the welcome sign to the temporary entrance

  • Create dedicated walkway – from the street to the gate;

    • paint the bitumen – pedestrian stripes?

    • Large ‘big friendly giant’ [BFG] footprints?

  • Safety ‘rope’ to designate end of pedestrian footpath and beginning of carpark ‘road’

Reproduce Roald Dahl's BFG footprints for added interest

Reproduce Roald Dahl’s BFG footprints for added interest – personal photo from Dahl’s grave site, Great Missenden


  • quickly produce new signage and paint a walkway

  • students [accompanied by teachers] and visitors ‘test’ the prototypes to encourage their ownership and therefore their use of the new entrance …

  • changes are made based on feedback



Alpha Public Schools. (2014). School design with design thinking. Retrieved from

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. HarperCollins: New York.

Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College. (n.d.). Dear Architect: The Vision Of Our Future School: Walker Technology College. Retrieved from

Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia. Retrieved from

IDEO. (2012). Design thinking for Educators. 2nd Ed. Retrieved online from

Kazakci, A. O., Gillier, T., Piat, G. & Hatchuel, A. (2014). Brainstorming versus creative design reasoning: a theory-driven experimental investigation of novelty, feasibility and value of ideas. Retrieved from

Notosh. (2014). Design thinking – synthesis 1 – Hexagonal thinking. Retrieved from

Owen, C. (2007).Design Thinking: Notes on ins nature and Use. Design Research Quarterly, 2(1), pp. 16-27. Retrieved from


I have commented on Jo’s, Monique’s, Rosie’s and Bec’s blogs.

About plee

I am a Teacher Librarian and Learning Technologies Co-ordinator at a Catholic Primary School in Sydney's Hills District.
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5 Responses to INF536 – Blog Task #3: Design Brief

  1. Lisa says:

    Hi Patricia,
    Usually in the midst of building works there is simply an assumption that we all just need to sit tight and put up with the challenges until things are finished. I really like that you have considered in detail what can be done to combat the challenges of the temporary here and now without going overboard! You have designed practical and fun solutions that illustrate Paul Bennett’s TED video concept to, “Pick battles big enough to matter but small enough to win”. I like that you have approached your solution ideas from the various perspectives of the users – your staff, students and visitors – putting the people first. I think posing your ideas as questions leaves your brief open for the investigation of flexible options and open-ended dialogue. I hope you are able to implement some of these great ideas.
    Cheers, Lisa

  2. rmasaoka says:

    Hi Patricia,
    You have come up with a variety of simple short term solutions. I particularly like the idea of doing a walk through and asking the students for their ideas which is a great way to get the perspective of the participants.
    Since most people drive to school you could ask the community to do a walk to school day where everyone meets at a near by location and walks. You could sell it to the parents as an easy way to include some incidental exercise. Although I know it sounds nice on paper (or screen) the practicalities of everyday commutes makes this unlikely but the few who take it up will surely help to ease the congestion.
    I hope any of the ideas you have floated get implemented because doing something is a lot better than nothing :).

  3. jerry.leeson says:

    Hi Patricia,
    There’s some great ideas there in the ideation section. One thing that seems to have been mentioned quite often in the readings has been the importance of prototyping and I really like that you addressed this. It would be great to see how the students respond to prototyping and what role they can play in the development of a solution.


  4. Jim Thomas says:


    Your scenario sounds like a project for Parvin, who said in his Ted talk that design should be more about solving problems and creating new conditions than making buildings.

    After reading your brief, I really didn’t have a good sense of what the best solution would be, which tells me that the brief was well written, as it doesn’t steer the reader to one solution.

    Did you mean to say known unknowns (since an unknown unknown is something we can’t know). In any event, I suspect the best solution will in time be one that no one has thought of so far.


    • Parvin, A. (2013). Architecture for the people, by the people, Retrieved from:

  5. Sharon Hanson says:

    Hi Patricia
    Your solution is set out so well and you have thought of all the problems and solutions that need to occur. I really liked how you have involved the students and the staff members in your solutions and problem solving.

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