Consulting building users
- Many architects would like to engage with building users. However, this generally does not take place because time and resources for consultation are not included in the project brief and programme of work.
- Consultation with building users is difficult when they are not in place. However, spending time with residents and staff in other homes by the same provider or post-occupancy evaluation can be used to help understand user experiences.
- Consultation with care staff is often limited or restricted to managerial level. Consultation could be widened to include care-workers, laundry workers, kitchen staff, cleaners and maintenance staff.
- The timing of consultation can be challenging:
- There is a tension between the need to ‘fix’ aspects of the design to enable building projects to move forward, and aspirations to enable user involvement.
- Deciding when to involve users can be difficult, as designs continue to evolve throughout a project.
- User consultation is time-consuming, so for this to take place it needs to be incorporated into the programme of work and budget for a project.
- User consultation is not in itself enough, unless feedback is taken on board by the architect, client, design and construction team.