A background description should explain what has prompted the project. Who is the client and why is there a need to build or renovate? What accommodation problem needs to be solved? In many cases, the project will be a response to a practical problem, such as a lack of space in combination with expected growth, the termination of a lease contract, or quality problems (e.g. a worn-out interior, indoor climate problems). Such factors may coincide with organizational changes, such as organizational growth, a merger with another organization, or a need to reduce costs. It is important to describe these factors adequately because they give the design team an insight into the motivations behind the project. For the client, the background description is important because it forms the justification of the project, which can be useful for internal communication and decision-making.ObjectivesClosely related to the reasons behind the project, are the clients objectives. The central question here is what needs to be accomplished with the project, apart from merely solving the organizations practical accommodation problem. The answer to this question should focus not on the building itself, but on the benefits or value the building should deliver for the client. For example, when building a new research facility, the objective may be to facilitate new types of research and increase collaboration between different research disciplines. Similarly, a new school may want to use a project to facilitate new learning methods and increase the pupils performance. Often, the building project alone will not be able to achieve such objectives, which will also require organizational change, but clear objectives are essential because they give purpose to the project and they can serve as a basis for more detailed briefing decisions at later stages. AmbitionsThe strategic brief should also give the design team an understanding of what the client aims to achieve on specific quality aspects such as sustainability, architectural expression, flexibility, accessibility, and security (see Topics, page 75). The challenge here is to be specific and not to take refuge in the usual clichs. Take a topic like sustainability: almost every brief will highlight the importance of sustainability, but what precisely does the client mean by this? How far does such an ambition reach?Should the building become the most sustainable building of its kind, or should it merely comply with mainstream practice? The same goes for a topic like flexibility. Every client wants a flexible building, but what kind and degree of flexibility? Are we merely talking about a building with movable partitions or about a fully demountable building that can be resized and relocated? The strategic brief should try to provide concrete answers to such deceptively simple questions.ConceptMost clients will already have some sort of vision or concept in their mind when they start the project. The strategic brief should explain this vision or concept, without getting into too much detail. Preferably, this concept or vision should be closely related to the projects objectives and the users activities in the building. For an office project, for example, it will be useful to have a conceptual description of the desired work environment. How open should it be? What kind of facilities 27