In the process from design to realisation, clients and stakeholders have to deal with each other intensively. The way in which this contact takes place has a major influence on the final result and all parties involved bear their own specific responsibility.

The knowledge of all those involved is not the same. Designers are professionals with much imagination. The experience and expertise of clients varies greatly. For many stakeholders, such as future residents, teachers, doctors and theatre directors, it is the first (and often the only) time in their lives that they are involved in a design process. During this design process, De Zwarte Hond sees it as its responsibility to provide essential inspiration to the client, users, local residents and other stakeholders, so that we can translate their ambitions into a supported plan.

Within this process, design-oriented research is an important tool for De Zwarte Hond. It enables designers and clients to work with various parties, including city dwellers, experts and administrators, to look for the future they would like to realise. Design-oriented research never leads to a blueprint. Formulating several variants in the form of designs and visions enables those involved to look to the future in a sharply focused yet open manner.

Our designs gain the most in quality through interaction with the client and the user. For this reason, we always organise design sessions in which we weigh perception, spatial characteristics and qualities against constraints such as budget, time and financial value. This makes it clear to users what they are getting, and shows the client what consequences design choices have in practice.

We see it as our duty to ensure that all design decisions taken are represented or reported in a way that is understandable specifically for the person concerned. Some people need good visualisations, and for them we will translate our designs into artistic impressions, models or sketches. But we also use virtual reality as a way for the client or user to experience what their building or plan will look like, and what effect specific design choices will have.

Other stakeholders look at completely different, often measurable matters, such as GFA-UFA ratios, rental value or cost of ownership, and would like to see the design translated into different numbers and indicators. And still others want to know how the design fits in with their educational system, theatre concept or commercial insights, and need specific diagrams and drawings to be able to assess that.

The ultimate goal is that we jointly arrive at a plan that transcends the programme of requirements. A design that is embedded in the question, but at the same time provides an answer to that question with surprising naturalness.