Spring/Summer 2019

Mon May 27 2019 23:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Spring/Summer 2019

Agile in Buildings Update

Let's start with where we are up to with our customer centric Agile in Buildings research.  Last time we mentioned that we were on the cusp of winning our funding from Innovate UK to test two case studies. Six months down the track and after some delays we were successful in our bid and have just completed the project. 

We have taken our two clients and their users through a rapid (less than 9 weeks of engaged contact) Agile in Buildings enabled design processes. We wanted to see how the two sets of users would perform when given much greater involvement in the design of their new buildings, and what impact this would have on the overall design outcomes.  

Without compromising the publication of a full dissemination report, I can say that the Agile in Buildings process has exceeded our expectations. Our users have excelled, providing our design teams with unparalleled insight and opportunity at the design table. They brought on the spot validation, reduced the risk that we were designing the wrong thing, defined the opportunity to design just what was needed, no more no less. They brought enthusiasm, new knowledge and new skill sets that were not present in the professional design team, and with this came new opportunities and new innovation. 

We found that designers became braver, more creative, felt validated, more empathetic to clients needs, closer to the problems they needed to solve. Together designers and users became a tight knit team, filled with motivation towards quality, value and total understanding around common objectives that were so much more clearly defined. 

Within the project we brought the full box of tricks, BIM, 3D design, Virtual Reality (VR) where we allowed our users to experience their designs, rapidly building prototypes of what they designed within a few days, to literally allow them to walk through them, test them, and validate them while technically still in RIBA Stage 0 and 1. The most surreal moments came when our users as clients kitted out with VR headsets went on snagging strolls around their new virtual workplaces, providing detailed feedback as they toured. To cap it all the solutions cost no more and one of the case studies, the project cost is less than than of a traditionally procured solution that they had been following prior to our arrival.

But what seems to have mattered more is that we developed two communities of users who know now precisely what they need from their building once they move in. Who can't wait to get it, who feel already that it will be their building made their way. Who feel bonded, closer to our teams and each other, because they have learned who they are what they do, how they do it and what the building they are about to procure needs to do to help them excel beyond handover.  

If design endeavour is about making things better for users, improving the lot of users, Agile in Buildings has just made it possible to make design great ...with remarkable repeatability.  Surely this is what good building and delivery is about!

Check out the video opposite to get a brief flavour of what happened on case study #1.  A similar video will be available for case study two soon.

We have moved offices..again

In October we took up temporary residence in Barkers Pool House with the rest of our Kollider coworking startup colleagues.  Well six months on, the refurbishment of Castle House the old Co-Op building is now complete. The new building is stunning. If you have not been yet its worth checking out what has to be one of the most exciting new venues for the​ City in a long time. 

On ground floor is the new Kommune bar and restaurant. Also there is a new Tamper coffee outlet and some other foodie outlets. First floor is where the new National Videogame Museum is located. Second floor will be a new Music and Media venue and third floor is Barclays Eagle Labs and Kollider coworking, and our new home.  The building is a collision of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Hats off to Nick Morgan, Adrian Hackett and the team at Kollider and U+I with Sheffield City Council who have made it all happen. Being a part of it suits exactly who we are as a practice with a modern fresh approach to design, coupled with a new can do technology fuelled mode of operating.  If you fancy a coffee and a look around do get in touch. Details of how to contact us and our full address are here

CIBSE Symposium 2019 comes to Sheffield
The CIBSE Technical Symposium arrived in Sheffield this year. Given its on our doorstep I felt it would be rude not to pull a technical paper together for submission. With that in mind I formed a partnership with Dr. Abigail Hathway at University of Sheffield to pen a paper on Indoor Air Quality in Healthy Buildings. The paper comes off the back of the work Abigail and I did last year for the Urban Flows Observatory.  You will remember we found in our UFO study that indoor air presents some serious issues for designers. who have the protection of occupants health in mind.  Our study highlighted concerns that there is an increased due diligence required for designers in how we mitigate the health impacts of the air users breathe in our buildings.  For example, its possible the fire protective chemicals we spray on furniture and carpets could be doing more harm to our air than is good for us. I say could, because being definitive about any of this is simply not possible, given the complexities of understanding, the lack of accurate indoor air sensor technology, the variability in the degree of exposure we all have, or how it affects our individual genetic make-up over our lifetime.  In all of this there are valid questions of complexity for the building health and wellness certification schemes such as the WELL Building standard to come to grips with.  It seems as an industry we have some way to go to be able to say with certainty that what we build is wholly protective of our indoor health.  An while wellness certification is a welcome addition to the design narrative, one that I believe the industry should embrace for fiduciary reasons, it stands to reason from an ethical standpoint that all buildings should be as healthy as we can make them irrespective of the certification compliance. 

I presented my paper in Session 9 on Thursday 25th at 1.30pm. The CIBSE Technical Symposium ran over two days finishing on 26th at 4pm. Slides from my presentation are here.

The Mind Gap

Continuing the health and wellness theme, I was delighted to be asked to present a paper on the design of buildings for health and wellbeing at Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber Mental Health Awareness Week event held at the offices of Clarion Solicitors in Leeds on 14th May. The attracted a lot of interest with over 80 people in attendance. Subsequently Phil Morrison of Clarion published a Clarion blog to summarise all three presenters points in what turned out to be an interesting and thought provoking event.  After outlining the history of the growth of interest in Wellness certification systems in buildings, it seems to me that health and wellbeing is being brought about by the demands of millennials and Generation Xs who are busy building their personal brands or profiles on social media, want to be seen to be healthy, and want to work in institutions that are build around a "do not harm" ethical construct. To be successful in meeting future demand, the property industry will need to do more embrace the demands of users, who will be demanding healthier buildings that help them to be better at what they do. My Powerpoint is here.

We are WELL 'APpy

I am delighted to confirm that I have received my accreditation as a WELL AP. This means that Ollio can accept commissions from clients, developers and design team who would like to pursue a WELL Build certification for their building. As it happens I am already advising a client who is pursuing a pilot domestic accreditation. Any clients thinking about how to make their buildings healthier, please do get in touch, even if only just considering the incorporation of WELL into your scheme. I am always happy to talk on a no strings basis to begin with.

Looking Forward

Looking forward we are lining up to put Agile Methods into practice again with a revisit to an office project for a client who moved in recently but staff are not happy. Interesting to see what comes from that.

We have just picked up a Post Occupancy Evaluation for a large signature client in the Kings X area of London. Been asked to sign an NDA on this one so hope to get some permissions to tell you more about this later.

Our POE with Bouygues and citizen Hotel Shoreditch is coming to a conclusion. The report looks great, and a cut down version should be available to view here soon.

We are working with Sheffield and Swansea University on the Active Building Centre to research solutions for zero carbon schools and homes as the two first typologies. This should make for interesting outcomes ahead.

Last but by no means least, I am looking forward to attending CEYH awards in Leeds on 14th July. Tickets still available here. Hoping that Liz will be recovered by then to reform her dynamic duo with Donna. Get well soon Liz.

That's it for now.