A construction project is built to achieve certain objectives, as defined in the brief. Those objectives will be achieved if the elements of the programme are satisfied. Thus, after the brief, a more comprehensive statement of those elements must be developed, elements that will be translated into the physical aspects of the completed project. It is likely that several parties will be involved in programme development. Consider a project to construct a new elementary school. Those contributing to the programme might well include teachers, parents, local and district administrators, community members including near neighbours, project manager and design professional. For this kind of project, a facilitator may be engaged to ‘ask the right questions’ and elicit ideas that will be considered as part of the programme. Among hundreds of questions that might be considered are the following (Bennett, personal communication):
How will this project contribute to the community’s educational goals of excellence, diversity, individuals’ rights and responsibilities and relationship to the ecosystem?
What use will the wider community make of this facility?
What is the facility expected to provide for people with special needs?
Are there priorities for space allocation among various programme areas: communication, science, arts, gifted/talented, recreation and others?
Will this facility require special storage areas, utility spaces, administrative offices and counselling rooms?
If potential sites have been identified, are there concerns among various interest groups about traffic flow, green space, bicycle and ski trails and visual impact?
To what extent should this school provide for anticipated changes in educational methods, including introduction of various technologies?
The result of this process will be a written document, subject perhaps to approval by the Board of Education or similar authority, describing in words what the completed project is expected to accomplish, including educational goals, community use, land use impacts and neighbourhood harmony.
Educational facilities are perhaps extreme examples of projects subject to community involvement. At the other extreme, a family-owned manufacturing facility may incorporate the ideas of one or a few individuals. Even here, a process that includes first a brief and then a programme will provide the foundation upon which the design professional can begin to identify various alternative means of meeting the project’s objectives. The modern trend is toward increasing involvement of the public in all types of projects, both public and private, especially in matters of physical, sociological and environmental impact.