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Data-driven design — Using data on human behaviour and spatial configuration to inform better workplace design

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Recent studies have shown that the majority of staff are dissatisfied with their workplace environment. At the same time, scientists are beginning to discover clearer and recurring patterns that show how the spatial design of a workplace affects staff satisfaction, wellbeing, exchange of information, communication and movement flows. This paper argues that insights from this body of research could be used to improve workplace design. It gives an overview of evidence-based and data-driven design as new emerging practices, which base design decisions on rigorously collected data. Using various case studies from Spacelab — a London-based practice — as an example, the paper shows how the typical needs of clients can be solved more profoundly by relying on data rather than intuition, opinion or office politics. The main insights include answers to the questions of how to fit more people into a space, whether everyone needs a desk, who should sit where, how to find the perfect property and how to establish the success of a project. In conclusion, the paper identifies key barriers for the further integration of research findings into design practice and suggests how they might be overcome in the future.
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Keywords: data; human behaviour; office design; post-occupancy evaluation; space syntax; workplace consultancy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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