In this paper six driving forces are discussed that have the potential of shifting the balances within the building industry and especially in the design professions. How strong these driving forces will be in time and what their respective influence will be on the future is uncertain. It is shown however that by varying their relative strength a number of scenarios can be described that tell the story of possible futures. Defining scenarios exclusively aims at gaining insight in potential threats, risks, challenges and opportunities we may face and helps to liberate fixed mind sets. The scenario described in greatest detail is called 'shifting balances' according to the theme of this conference and shows the most dramatic changes in industry. It describes the split between consultants and engineers. The point of gravity of the consultants' activities will shift towards the early phases of the project in which they engage in what is defined here as 'strategic design of buildings', whereas the engineers involved in the detailed design will move under the umbrella of the construction and manufacturing industry. The strategic design process is characterised by two key' aspects: (1) problem seeking and analysis. leading to a thorough understanding of the desired key, performances of the building, the related design challenges and potential accommodating system concepts and (2) the formulation of scenarios for the use of the building, based on an investigation into the possible dynamics of these performances in time so that the building features intrinsic qualities in terms of changeability. The strategic design process is conducted in multidisciplinary teams in the early phases of a project, when the information is scarce and the risks are greatest. It is characterised by concurrent design in which former consultants simultaneously act as co_designers in their own field and participate in the design process by offering partial variant design solutions, in order to attain the best match in time between performance demand and supply of the building. These partial variant design solutions can be integrated in the overall design. The paper proceeds with describing some underlying theoretical models as preliminary conceptual tools to understand and administer the complexity of the strategic design process in order to open up the possibilities of application of information and communication technology and enable the development of design decision and evaluation support tools. An example is given how the strategic design process has been conducted successfully at a Dutch project.