Evidence-Based Design: Theoretical and Practical Reflections of an Emerging Approach in Office Architecture

SAILER, Kerstin, BUDGEN, Andrew, LONSDALE, Nathan, TURNER, Alasdair and PENN, Alan (2009). Evidence-Based Design: Theoretical and Practical Reflections of an Emerging Approach in Office Architecture. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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Evidence-based design is a practice that has emerged only relatively recently, inspired by a growing popularity of evidence-based approaches in other professions such as medicine. It has received greatest attention in design for the health sector, but has received less in office architecture, although this would seem not only to be beneficial for clients, but increasingly important in a changing business environment. This paper outlines the history and origins of evidence-based practice, its influence in the health sector, as well as some of the reasons why it has been found more difficult to apply in office architecture.

Based on these theoretical reflections, data and experiences from several research case studies in diverse workplace environments are presented following a three part argument: firstly we show how organisational behaviours may change as a result of an organisation moving into a new building; secondly we argue that not all effects of space on organisations are consistent. Examples of both consistent and inconsistent results are presented, giving possible reasons for differences in outcomes. Thirdly, practical implications of evidence-based design are made and difficulties for evidence-based practice, for example the problem of investment of time, are reflected on.

The paper concludes that organisations may be distinguished according to both their spatial and transpatial structure (referring to a concept initially introduced by Hillier and Hanson in their study of societies). This means that evidence-based design in office architecture needs to recognise that it deals with a multiplicity of possible organisational forms, with specific clients requiring case-dependent research and evidence gathering. In this evidence-based design practice differs markedly from evidence-based medicine. Finally, we suggest a framework for systematic review inclusion criteria in the development of Evidence-Based Design as a field of practice. We argue that it is only through the development of an approach tailored to the specific nature of design practice and organisational function that research evidence can properly be brought to bear.

Architecture; Design Practice; Evidence-Based Design; Workplace; Research; Case Study.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:16
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/492

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