Last edited 19 Mar 2020

Preparation and briefing

The process for completing the design and construction of a building is often divided into stages. This can be helpful in establishing milestones for the submission of progress reports, the preparation of information for approval, client gateways, and for making payments.

However, there is a great deal of ambiguity between the naming of stages by different organisations and the definition of what individual stages actually include, and so it is important that appointment documents make it clear specifically what activities fall within which stage, and what level of detail is required.

Preparation and briefing’ is a new stage introduced by the RIBA Plan of work 2020. This replaces ‘Preparation and brief’ in the 2013 edition.

The RIBA Plan of Work is published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Split into a number of key project stages, the RIBA Plan of Work provides a shared framework for design and construction that offers both a process map and a management tool.

The RIBA Plan of Work 2020 changed the structure of the stages as shown below:

Stage 2013 edition 2020 edition
0 Strategic definition. Strategic definition.
1 Preparation and brief. Preparation and briefing.
2 Concept design. Concept design.
3 Developed design. Spatial coordination.
4 Technical design. Technical design.
5 Construction. Manufacturing and construction.
6 Handover and close out. Handover.
7 In use. Use.

The 2020 edition of the RIBA Plan of Work suggests that preparation and briefing involves ‘…developing the information that the design team will need to commence the design process at Stage 2. Feasibility Studies might be required in order to tease out the full range of briefing considerations and to demonstrate that the Spatial Requirements can be accommodated on the site. In some instances, several options might be prepared, but these options should not be vetted and appraised at this stage. Feasibility Studies are not part of the design process. For example, illustrative masterplan visions might be prepared in order to determine and shape the brief, and to tease out decisions that will be required on certain topics, but they are not part of the design process itself. As there is a direct correlation between cost and a building’s area, the Spatial Requirements do need to be tested against the Project Budget.’

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