Design by Many

One of those interesting coincidences….

Yesterday, the Institution of Civil Engineers, with the Advanced Institute of Management, hosted an event, “Engineering Management in a Digital Economy” in London which, despite the wintry weather and the associated transport difficulties, still drew around 40 people from both industry and academia. They assembled to discuss issues such as building information management, whole-life cost and construction industry research needs (I used Twitter to share my notes of the event – #hashtag transcript here), and also heard a presentation from UK chief construction advisor Paul Morrell.

For me, the most thought-provoking and wide-ranging presentation was delivered by AIM Research‘s Andy Neely. He highlighted some of the ways in which technology was fostering innovation and enabling new collaborative approaches to product development (he talked about GPS-controlled ploughs, mobile phones, and about Threadless tee-shirts, among other things) and data-sharing and re-use. During his talk, Andy also mentioned the opportunity for businesses to pose challenges to industry and invite collaborators to propose ideas in response to that challenge (an ‘ideagora’ technique discussed in Tapscott & Williams’ Wikinomics).

And by pure coincidence, I almost simultaneously received an email from Hewlett Packard telling me about an international design challenge, DesignByMany, that it is sponsoring.

“Users post challenges to the community along with their design source files. The community can then post responses with their own source files to solve the challenge. They can also comment on the challenge and interact with other designers throughout the process.”

This approach is, of course, similar to that of BIMstorm events such as the (Asite-sponsored) BuildLondonLive held in 2008 (post) and 2009; these events were mentioned at my table during our roundtable discussions.

The first HP-sponsored DesignByMany challenge is to a model a parametric version of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House, with responses to be judged by designers from Grimshaw Architects, Snøhetta and Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill LLP (winners get a HP DesignJet 111 printer).

Permanent link to this article: