Post-occupancy evaluation tool

High-rise buildings at night with brightly coloured lights in the windows. Post-occupancy evaluation tool. Academics like to approach the issue of exclusion by developing guides, tools, and playbooks. But are evaluation tools useful for promoting inclusive design in the built environment?  Perhaps. From the Inclusive Design Team in the UK comes a post-occupancy evaluation tool. That is, a tool to find out if the design actually works.

Existing post occupancy tools usually focus on the performance of the building itself. For example, energy and sustainability measures. Very few measure the building holistically or from a universal design approach.  

An article by Zallio and Clarkson lists the many evaluation tools available internationally. It explains the methods used in the research process. Participants for the workshops in the study were drawn from the ranks of built environment professionals. These participants were deemed to have experience in inclusive design. 

The process for developing the tool included an element of education for participants and eventually the users of the audit tool. The audit takes a snapshot of the building, with its occupants, and offers insights about inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA).

The goal of the tool is to provide meaningful information to improve well-being, comfort, and inclusion. It does this by highlighting the points of exclusion and the pain points experienced by users. 

The title of the article is, The inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility audit. A post-occupancy evaluation method to help design the buildings of tomorrow. It’s by Matteo Zallio and P. John Clarkson from the Inclusive Design Team at the University of Cambridge. It’s open access and a relatively easy read for an academic text. 

The key points in the article are: 

      • Inclusive Design is not widely adopted in architectural design practice.
      • There is a scarcity of post-occupancy evaluation methods on inclusion and accessibility.
      • Mapping the building occupant’s perception of inclusion and accessibility is key to designing inclusively.
      • Mixed method evaluation can help professionals to understand points of exclusion in the building.
      • The IDEA audit helps to understand people’s perception of inclusion and accessibility.

From the abstract

There is a general lack of awareness about Inclusive Design among building industry professionals. This is partly due to the scarcity of available tools to evaluate occupancy feedback on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. How can we implement an evaluation tool that works for the building industry?

This study aims to inform the development of a post-occupancy method to evaluate Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) in the built environment. 

With the IDEA audit, researchers, building owners, design teams, developers, facility managers, tenants, and organisation leaders can achieve a baseline of understanding of what people feel in regard to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. They can clearly identify pockets of inconsistency and use data to decide how to address challenges and points of exclusion.

Note: Unlike many other countries that use the UN term ‘universal design’, organisations and researchers in the UK have maintained their ‘brand’ of ‘inclusive design’. However, these terms mean the same thing – the goal of creating an inclusive world.

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