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SAMUEL BROWN - 100235416 2010/11 - ARC555 - MANAGEMENT & PRACTICE ASSIGNMENT 3 - A critical self-appraisal of engagement and practice in...


LIVE PROJECT 7 PRAISE PODS - Voice of Arbourthorne MENTOR - Stephen Walker Tom Atkinson - Y5 Sam Brown - Y5 Reza Fallahtafti - MAAD Dan Hall - Y5 Amandeep Kaur - MAAD Y6 - Joao Lung - Y6 Hannah O’Boyle - Y6 Dave Pogson - Y6 Ewan Tavendale - Y5 Dan Walder- Y5

1.0 INTRODUCTION This introduction will serve to outline the key qualities of client, brief and project team that characterized Live Project 7 at the Sheffield School of Architecture (SSoA) in the 2010/11 academic session. Within the limited scope of this essay, it would be difficult to go into much detail about the origins of the project and its key stakeholders. However, more information about the history of Live Projects at the SSoA, as well as this specific project’s eventual remit and execution can be found at A video of the final assessed presentation detailing the projects evolution and execution is available upon request from the SSoA office. The essay will discuss the project team’s group dynamics (p.3), which were ultimately one of its greatest successes, before discussing the briefing process (p.7), which was one of the project’s most complex challenges. The communication strategy (p.13) adopted during the project is then critically appraised, before a conclusion is drawn highlighting the lessons that can be learned from the project (p.16)

Arbourthorne Community Primary School - As willing partners, the school were the most obvious benefactors of the project. They became the primary ‘client’ and were providing the £250 budget.

and how they might be applied to future practice. The landscape of Live Project 7... - Fig.1

Stephen Walker - As academic mentor, Stephen maintained an invisible presence throughout the project, offering only minimal guidance when absolutely necessary

Live Project Group 7 - 3no. Y6 members, 5no. Y5 members and 2no. MAAD members; the project team represented a diverse array of personalities and skills and was a relatively large group of people for such a small project in such a short amount of time.

Richard Crook - As Lead Positive Behaviour Practitioner within the Primary Inclusion Unit and CYPS at Sheffield City Council, Richard initially acted as primary ‘client’ - Richard also took a back seat role following the delivery of his initial pitch and the project was initially seen as ‘his baby’.





The loose ambition of the project was to build upon innovative positive behaviour initiatives for primary education already in place at Arbourthorne Community Primary School. The school encourages good citizenship by rewarding behaviour that reflects a set of eight Core Values (National College 2002). Revealingly, these qualities can be read in alongside R.M. Belbin’s model for a successful


team (Belbin 1981), which considers the dynamic of a group to be the product of individual behaviour within that group. This model suggests that there are complementary roles within a project team.


One of our first moves as a team was to identify our existing skills, as well as those we aspired to develop. This honest appraisal of the team’s capability and motivational drivers provided a strong basis for team work and good communication, and characterized us as a ‘people firm’ (Emmitt 1999, p.41). Inter-personal dynamics were one of the team’s major successes.



Fig.2 - The Core Values adopted at Arbourthorne Community Primary School and how they loosely corresponded to the project team members and their roles (refer to Fig.3 opposite).

Fig.3 - R.M.Belbin’s key roles within a team. Although the names themselves have changed with various editions of his research, the spirit of Belbin’s definitions remain the same. ‘The Specialist’ is a ninth role added in the latest research publication (Belbin Associates 2010) - we found that as a group of students, we did not yet have one of these, although the role could possibly be seen as that of our academic mentor. It can be seen that the team had a fairly even representation of Belbin’s roles.





It could be seen that whilst the project team had a good spread of the roles identified by Belbin, various members of our team adopted different roles at different stages of the project. As Emmitt suggests, ‘most design firms will pass through a number of distinct evolutionary phases over time’ (1999, p.43), and this agility was a key component of our successful operation, as it allowed us to respond well to a new experience and dynamic workload.

Fig.5 - Arguably a typical lay-person’s ‘hierarchical’ view of the ‘chairman’ and their relation to the rest of the project team...

In theory, this should have given individuals a good understanding of the team ecology, however in reality there was little pro-active inter-relation of tasks. Whilst individuals understood their roles well and were committed to their effective execution, efficiency could have been improved by indentifying the tasks that fell within multiple remits, avoiding duplication of effort. Personally I found that I most frequently took on a role similar to Belbin’s ‘chairman’ (2010) and that this role necessitated a working knowledge of other roles within the group. It was my job to ensure continuity in our actions and I am confident that I was able to ‘treat and welcome all potential contributors on their merits and without prejudice’ and maintain a ‘strong sense of objectives’ (Belbin 1981, p.78). At times I found myself acting as a resource investigator, establishing whether or not we had the means to achieve our aims, and at times I was a completer-finisher, as I had the clearest idea of pressing deadlines. A lot of the time I found I was also acting as a monitor-evaluator, judging our progress against the targets we had set and the promises we had made. As such, I perhaps more closely fitted the role described by Emmitt of the team leader within an otherwise self-managing team (1999, p54). I did however, find my role frustrating at times; especially in the early stages of the project when my tasks seemed only to involve the drafting and sharing of written notes, whilst others pursued more creative activities such as idea generation. However, despite also feeling capable of those tasks, I recognized the importance of my role and my suitability to it; in this sense I perhaps also acted as a company worker. A good team also recognizes the importance of disciplined work.

+ 5

Fig.6 - ...whilst my experience of the role was more like this - surrounded and supported by / supporting the other team members in a group ‘ecology’.

= Fig.4 - Sometimes being ‘chairman’ felt like this...




The process of developing a brief that could give a structure and impetus to the project was one of the team’s greatest challenges. Having reflected upon literature discussing the ‘briefing process’ it could be said that although Live Project 7 produced some tangible outcomes, the main thrust of its efforts was directed at developing a condition by which key stakeholders could move forward with their wider goals. As such, what may well have been produced is a recognisable ‘brief’ for future projects. The project began with something of a ‘vision’, rather than the kind of brief familiar to architecture students. For us this was an opportunity, as well as an anxiety; an early meeting was called with the known ‘clients’ in order to establish key stakeholders in the project as well as their individual motivations. Key stakeholders emerged as the ‘visionary’ Richard Crook - Lead Positive Behaviour Practitioner within the Child & Young Person’s Service (CYPS) portfolio at Sheffield City Council (refer to Fig.8) - and Arbourthorne Community Primary School (refer to Fig.9), principally represented by teacher Kelleigh Carter, alongside Head teacher, Vanessa Langley, its pupils and members of the school’s governing body and parent-teacher association (PTA). From the initial meeting, we were able to identify the wider aspirations of each party as well as the areas in which those aspirations converged, giving some shape to an initial brief. Considering the findings alongside our own skills appraisal enabled the identification of potential project proposals. The initial stakeholder meeting was a key point in the briefing process and was well managed by us as a group. We approached the meeting with a written agenda detailing points of discussion, which had been circulated to all stakeholders a few days beforehand; and whilst the meeting proceeded fairly informally, that agenda enabled us to make sure that we covered enough to in order to proceed with the project.

Fig.7 - Part of our brief eventually became the design and fabrication - through participatory design - of a prototype ‘peer-mediation shelter’ to be installed within the school’s grounds, supporting the ‘peer mediators’ – a group of children taking responsibility for solving breaktime disputes between other pupils. The shelter is to give them somewhere to go to conduct their ‘mediations’ that they feel a sense of ownership of.



Arbourthorne Nursery Infant School Arbourthorne Junior School

Taxpayers School Arbourthorne Community Primary

CONTACT UK Government - Coalition Head Teacher Vanessa Langley Kelleigh Carter Wales Scotland Northern Ireland England

Governing Body

Sheffield City Council Executive Mangement Team (EMT)


Karachi Hucklow School




Rosehill Junior School

Thorogate School

Full Council

Oakfield House School

Sandhill School

St Joseph’s School

Ashwood Road School

Praise Pod Community


Castlefield Community Infant School Molcliffe Primary School

Rawmarsh Community School Monkwood Junior School

??? - Chair Vanessa Langley - Head Teacher ??? - Community Rep ??? - Community Rep ??? - Community Rep Bev Pilgrim - Parent Rep Springs Academy Family ??? - Parent Rep Secondary School ??? - Parent Rep ??? - Parent Rep ??? - Parent Rep ??? - Staff Rep ??? - Staff Rep ??? - LEA Rep ??? - LEA Rep ??? - Observer Arbourthorne Nursery Infant School ??? - Associate Arbourthorne Junior School

Attendance Manager Deputy Head Teacher ‘Praise Pod’ Co-Ordinator Department for Business, Innovation + Skills Department for Education

Staff - Teaching 22 teachers

Other School Other School

Other School

Local Authority (LEA) - Sheffield City Council

Other School

Other School

Other School Other School

Staff - Support 2 administration 22 communication support 2 cooking 11 lunchtime supervisor 1 nurse 7 cleaning / maintenance


Arbourthorne Community Primary School

Bev Pilgrim - Chair Mandy Fenech - Safeguarding Officer Leanne ? - Parent ??- Parents ?? - StaffHead Teacher CONTACT Governing Body ??? - Chair Vanessa Langley Kelleigh Carter Vanessa Langley - Head Teacher Attendance Manager Other Outside AgenciesDeputy Head Teacher Children ??? - Community Rep ‘Praise Pod’ Co-Ordinator (Integrated Resource Unit) ??? - Community IntegratedRep Learning Support Unit ??? - Community Rep Foundation 1 - Nursery Educational Psycologist Bev Pilgrim - Parent Rep Foundation 2 - Reception LEA ??? - Parent Rep Health & Social ServicesStaff - Teaching YR1 ??? - ParentThe RepLearning Year (EAZ) YR2 22 teachers ??? - Parent Rep YR3 ??? - Parent Rep YR4 ??? - Staff Rep YR5 ??? - Staff Rep Fig.9 - Looking more closely at the school YR6 Staff - Support ??? - LEA Rep 2 administration revealed a history of innovative practice ??? - LEA Rep 22 communication support Parents / Communityin primary education and an existing, ??? - Observer 2 cooking Guardians ??? - Associate successful association with Richard Crook. 11 lunchtime supervisor Mothers 1 nurse They were more than willing to provide Fathers 7 cleaning / maintenance PTA Other Family the testing ground for Richard’s latest idea Bev Pilgrim - Chair Wider Community Heeley Constituency of letting architecture students loose in a Mandy Fenech - Safeguarding Officer Elderly Megg Munn MP school, having been exposed to the effects Leanne ? - Parent Youth ??- Parents Working of praise and positive behaviour on the ?? - Staff Unemployed

Executive Officer - Dr Sonia Sharp Children & Families - Jane Ludlum Lifelong Learning, Skills and Communities - Tony Tweedy Change Management & Organisational Development - Geny Bradly

Sheffield City Council Children’s Commissioner - Peter Mucklow

Executive Mangement Team (EMT) Business Strategy - John Doyle

Cabinet Inclusion & Learning Services - Maggie Williams / Jane Golightly Full Council

Karachi Hucklow School

Oakfield House School

Sandhill School Rosehill Junior School

St Joseph’s School

Fig.8 - Richard Crook began to emerge as an Thorogate School Ashwood Road School entrepreneurial ‘loose cannon’ within the CYPS who had an idea for encouraging positive behaviour and Praise Pod Community Sheffield Primary Inclusion Support Centre CYPS PLACE COMMUNITIES RESOURCES T. 01142557679 citizenship in schools. He already had a commercially Rawmarsh Community School Castlefieldsuccessful Community venture Infant School operating at Arbourthorne – the Monkwood Junior School David Langson - Head Molcliffe Primary School Michael Gales - Deputy Praise Pod – and we were critical of this potential conflict 6 - Inlusion Support Teachers of interest. Richard had approached the SSoA with the 3 - Teaching Assistants idea of promoting positivity within the city as a whole, 2 - Learning Mentors having heard about a magical six week period in which Executive Officer - Dr Sonia Sharp ? - Positive Behaviour Practitioners architecture students transform ideas, especially those Children & Families - Jane Ludlum with social leaning, into tangible reality...

Richard Crook

Lifelong Learning, Skills and Communities - Tony Tweedy Change Management & Organisational Development - Geny Bradly

Lead Positive Behaviour Practitioner

Children’s Commissioner - Peter Mucklow

Inclusion & Learning Services - Maggie Williams / Jane Golightly City Learning Centre Sheffield Primary Inclusion Support Centre STEPS T. 01142557679

NHS Rotherham



Live Project 07

Business Strategy - John Doyle

David Langson - Head Michael Gales - Deputy 6 - Inlusion Support Teachers 3 - Teaching Assistants 2 - Learning Mentors

Other Outside Agencies RIBA

Sheffiled School of Architecture

Sam Brown - Client Liaison Daniel Walder - Client Liaison Joao Lung - CPD David Pogson - Finance Tom Atkinson Reza Fallahtafti Daniel Hall Amandeep Kaur Hannah O’Boyle Ewan Tavendale

Integrated Learning Support Unit The Architecture Profession Educational Psycologist LEA Health & Social Services Architecture -The RIBA Part / MAAD Learning Year2 (EAZ)

University of Sheffield MArch in

Academic Mentor - Stephen Walker

Lead Positive Behaviour Practitioner

Sheffiled School of Architecture


(Integrated Resource Unit) Foundation 1 - Nursery Foundation 2 - Reception YR1 YR2 YR3 YR4 YR5 YR6

Guardians Mothers Fathers Other Family Wider Community Elderly Youth Working Unemployed RIBA The Architecture Profession

. . . T


Parents / Community

? - Positive Behaviour Practitioners

Richard Crook

inclusive delivery of primary education. The school were also providing the small budget available to us.


Heeley Constituency Megg Munn MP




Whilst stakeholder analysis contributed to a clearer picture of the project, we still needed to identify something we could actually do. We ran simple exploratory workshops with pupils and parents to address the school’s immediate concerns and objectives through design. This enabled us to explore the aspirations of key stakeholders, with the simultaneous aim of discovering a way in which we could satisfy Richard Crook’s less tangible aim of city-wide inclusion. After each workshop, we reviewed the experience with our stakeholders and developed a set of objectives; some within the scope of the Live Project and some with longer term aspirations. The Live Project brief developed to become one of supporting existing citizenship initiatives at the school through spatial design - participatory design workshops would produce a working prototype shelter as a blueprint for full-scale construction at a later date. The wider brief became one of building a greater capacity for engagement with the school amongst the Arbourthorne community and wider city of Sheffield -particularly amongst fathers of the school’s pupils - through the act of making. Simply put, we tactically decided to meet the realistically achievable aspirations of one stakeholder in order to support the deferred, longer-term ambitions of another. The hardest part of the whole project was establishing this strategy. In summary, the use of participatory design techniques in the briefing process helped the project’s stakeholders to think more clearly about what they wanted beyond the scope of the project and enabled the project team to identify goals appropriate to the timeframe of the project.

Fig.10 - We learned a lot of lessons from the first workshop we ran - particularly that it is naive to just turn up and expect people to engage with you. For the second workshop we arrived well prepared and with a clear objective in mind. A pre-fabricated system of components could be used by the pupils to construct prototype shelters that we could refine in the studio. We conducted the workshop at ground level in order to appear more accessible to our subjects.





Following advice from 6th Year team members, the team adopted a ‘one-port-of-call’ strategy with regard to communications. Having set up a dedicated email address, it fell to the ‘chairman’ to liaise with stakeholders and the project’s academic mentor. Although we arranged meetings over the telephone, we preceded them by issuing a written agenda by email, and followed them with meeting minutes, also by email. Later, particularly when the administration of meeting minutes became more complex and time consuming, we added a deputy-chair to relieve some of the administrative burden on the ‘chairman’. Although this could potentially have been confusing for our clients, we communicated the addition clearly and still used only the one email address. The only major point of contention the project occurred as a direct result of our choice of communication method. We often found that we were choosing email over face-to-face contact, simply because it was difficult to make contact with one stakeholder due to their heavy work commitments. However, emails – read in a hurry between meetings and using written language that is open to subjective interpretation – can lead to misunderstandings that may have been avoided in face-to-face conversation. We realised that committing to face-to-face meetings and allowing them enough time is important for both the design team and client to bear in mind. “Participation in building projects and the adoption of ecologically sound ideas within the project are inextricably linked by the effectiveness of communication between people in the network and the manner in which information is disseminated and managed. The interaction of participants who are brought together in a temporary network to conceive, design and then implement a highly individualistic [project] is a particularly complex issue.” (Emmitt 1999, p.102)

Fig.11 - We met regularly as a team to ensure our internal communication was as clear as possible. In my role as ‘chairman’, these were good opportunities to pull information out from one team member that might be useful for another. Meeting regularly like this, face-to-face, is something we should have attempted more with our key stakeholders.





This project has shown that ‘vagueness‘ is not an unusual condition for a design team to be exposed to. We dealt with vagueness by adopting a critical position relative to it and allowing the skill-set of our team to shape what could and could not be done within the time allowed for the project. We had to work hard in order to identify the key motivating factors and aspirations of our multi-headed client and then match those with the results of the analysis we had made of our own capabilities as individuals and as a team. This early analysis would seem to be a useful tool for running any project. The Live Projects at the SSoA continue to demonstrate that each and every project situation may require a slightly different choice of approach and tactics. Whilst there are general strategies discussed in literature (Blundell-Jones et al. 2005; Belbin 1981; 2010; Emmitt 1999), it could be said that a strong strategy to adopt is that of the attitude to work described by Richard Sennett in his book The Craftsman (2008). Acting within the medium of design, the architect should have a number of ‘tools’ and techniques available to them and must practice at selecting the correct combination for the job at hand, whether in client communication, brief development, or team assembly. As Emmitt suggests; “Individuals learn about themselves and their environment through reflection on past action” (Emmitt 1999, p.55)

Therefore, educational programs such as the Live Projects facilitate the accumulation of ‘tools’ and techniques for practice. Emmitt uses David Kolb’s ‘cycle of experimental learning’ to reinforce the idea that this process should continue as practice itself continues; Fig.13 - The Learning Spiral (Emmitt 1999, p.56)


each ‘experience’ leading to an ‘understanding’ that builds a capacity for ‘planning’ and further ‘action’ (Ibid. - refer to Fig.13). Reflection informs the choice of future tactics.



Belbin Team Role Theory [WWW] Belbin Associates. Available from: asp?id=8 [Accessed on 30/12/2010].


Management Teams - Why they succeed or fail Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

BELBIN, R. M. (1981)

Architecture & Participation Oxon: Spon Press.


Architectural management in practice : a competitive approach Harlow: Longman.




Making the Difference: successful leadership in challenging circumstances: a practical guide to what school leaders can do to improve and energise their school Nottingham: National College.


The Craftsman London: Allen Lane.

SENNETT, R. (2008)

The legacy of a good team is future possibilities... - Fig.13

In the current world of professional architectural design, there are many voices advocating many different modes of practice. Most vocally – at least, within my current environment of architectural education – are those that ask us to consider that architects may have to diversify their activity in order to sustain their practice. My experience of this Live Project has shown that awareness of alternate tactics for the facilitation of design is important, as our profession seeks simultaneously to produce better, more inclusive work and to stay relevant within the project teams responsible for design, development and construction.











Brown, s (2010) live project management report  
Brown, s (2010) live project management report