Creating this year's Basil Spence case study

Posted in: New initiative, Staff insight

With the Digital Team launching a new look for the case study content type, I thought I'd take the opportunity to show you our first piece in this new format.

Our newest case study is the story of how group 2 came up with their winning design for the 2017 Basil Spence competition. The annual Basil Spence project is our flagship design competition for final-year students in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering. In 2015, we published a news story in OpenCMS about the final-year show with an embedded Flickr gallery showing the Basil Spence projects. Then in 2016, we published a case study on the winning project using the new CMS. Now for the 2017 winner, we've been able to go a step further thanks to the new template.

New features in the case study template

  • Headshots to show the team members involved
  • In-text images to show how the design process unfolded
  • Feature video header as well as an embedded Flickr gallery
  • Elegant in-text quotes and a bolder feature quote
  • A related case studies strata

Documenting the Basil Spence

Content planning for this case study began during a meeting with Mark Evernden (Director of Studies for Civil Engineering) back in September 2017. Mark provided feedback about the 2016 winner's piece and its focus on the design solution rather than the actual design process. We spoke about ways of capturing the process this year and booked in photoshoots of some tutorials (one of which happened to feature group 2) and the final project crit. Mark also got the student teams to set up group Instagram accounts so they could document their developing designs through images and videos.

A week or so later we had a major piece of luck: Gabriel. Gabriel (then a Content Producer in the central Digital Team) was kindly loaned out to support the faculty marketing & web teams and agreed to take on the Basil Spence as a project. Every other week, Gabriel headed over to the design studios in 4 East South and interviewed the students on his own hand-held video camera.

By the end of the eight-week competition, we had so much content in so many different forms: written, photographic and cinematic. And we had a winning team who were happy to collaborate on the piece (and go through more photography, filming and proofreading!).

I'd heard the Digital Team was developing the case study content type so I booked in with Tegan Male (User Experience Designer) to see a preview before I started drafting and editing the piece. What I saw made me very happy; something that had the functionality to fully tell group 2's experience and the story of their design process. Tegan suggested we use our Basil Spence case study to stress test the new template and use it as a testing ground for further development.

Tegan's computer screen when stress testing the new template using a draft of the Basil Spence case study

After watching the stress test, I went back and continued editing and encouraging others to proof, while the Digital Team continued to develop the template. Several months later and we are finally published! Every case study is different. This one was months in the making, and the combined effort of photographers, videographers, web designers, content producers and editors, academics and some very talented students. I hope you enjoy it.

Posted in: New initiative, Staff insight

Read the 2017 Basil Spence winners case study