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Community ideas

Ideas using lateral and visual thinking

Lateral thinking is often described as ‘thinking outside the box’. Visual thinking is essentially thinking in images and remembering images more than words. People who are interested in the arts are more inclined to think visually. When we want a visual representation in mathematics we might draw a chart or a graph to help us visualise the problem or a solution to a problem.

visual thinking

Beautiful Buildings

A commission to champion beautiful buildings as an integral part of the drive to build the homes communities need was announced by the Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP last November. Look at the picture, is it atheistically pleasing? I like it but I also notice the sign that either says for sale or to let. These are tiny flats packed onto a site that once housed just one public house. Think about it based on the visual appearance, we know the flats are too small. Could they have built a taller building and made the apartments more spacious and more desirable? What is good about the building? I find the decorative brickwork quite pleasing to look at. How about prestigious? Is this a prestigious building that people could be quite proud to move into? No, I don’t think it is. Despite looking nice, I suspect closer inspection would reveal a lot of flaws. What’s missing? To me, it looks like a utilitarian building with a bit of fancy brickwork to make it look nice. They have crammed as much into the available land as possible and there is no room for even a blade of grass. Nature is missing, no trees and no grass.

Visual thinking

I’m a photographer and artist and so yes, I use visual thinking. I really look at images and I look at buildings and the environment around me. James Brokenshire has set up a commission with a professor as a chairman and bureaucrats and architects to look at a problem that they have created. He really needed new ideas that can only come from a visual thinker who can also think laterally.

Lateral thinking

So how does lateral thinking combine with visual thinking to produce better ideas? Let’s looks at the bigger picture. The buildings do need to be fit for their purpose and they do need to be built to a budget. Can we however not just look at the initial cost of the building but the cost over its lifetime? Is a building that costs £100,000 and has a lifespan of 20 years cheaper than a building that costs £200,000 and lasts 100 years? We have to expand the question and ask more questions. Are buildings with small rooms really cheaper to build than spacious buildings?

The big picture

To get that elusive good idea we also have to look at the big picture. The initial idea of more visually appealing new buildings was a good one but expand the idea and they need to be put in an aesthetically pleasing environment with grass and trees. I know it has been done before with 60s high-rise flats but they were awful inside and not sustainable. Now we can think visually and imagine walking down a street in a town or city surrounded by beautiful buildings, lawns, flowers and trees. Does that sound like a place your grandchildren might enjoy walking through? That is what we need, not just beautiful buildings but a beautiful and healthy environment because in the future people will need to walk. They will need to walk to stay healthy and with the exception of the elderly and disabled not everyone will be able to drive cars. The roads are already congested in our towns and cities. Looking at the big picture allows us to also solve the peripheral problems that are often ignored.

lateral and visual thinking

By trying to combine both lateral and visual thinking you can look at problems differently and find solutions and new ideas. Even big problems like Brexit can be solved with lateral and visual thinking. Just imagine a beautiful Europe…

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