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Good design it all adds up
Royal Institute of British Architects66 Portland PlaceLondon W1B 1ADT 020 7580 5533www.architecture.com
Cover image: Wren Academy,Friern Barnet, London, Penoyre & PrasadPhoto: Tim Soar
Good design it all adds up 1
What is the value of architecture? Is it worth the expense? Is design dispensable?
As expenditure on construction schemes of all kinds, from schools to hospitals to regeneration projects, comes under the microscope, we hear these questions more and more.
Maybe design has become synonymous with luxury and the high street, and its role in making ordinary objects desirable andexpensive has overshadowed that of making things and places safe, understandable, durable, energy-efficient and affordable.
The evidence assembled here counters the argument that design is a luxury in the production of the built environment, especially instraitened times.
What this report brings to light is the true value of good architecture.Design that resolves problems and answers needs will pay for itself over a buildings lifetime. Good architecture has its price. But badarchitecture or no architecture at all will cost you more.
We summarise the research assessing the value of good design; include case studies that provide the evidence of good practice; andshow how clients and those who live and work in a building can get the most out of it when it is created together with an architect.
Ruth ReedRIBA President 20092011
There is a danger that in the rush to cut costs we losemore than money from ourbuilding projects. To avoiddiminishing the quality of lifethat good design brings, it is necessary to identify thevalue created by thoughtful and responsive architecture.This report, which is one of my presidential initiatives, seeks to do just that.
Nursery, University of Warwick, MJP ArchitectsPhoto: Peter Durant
Morley von Sternberg
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An architect brings more to a buildingthan aesthetics and form. The kind of building a business inhabits is areflection of its values and standards.So the architects contribution can havea considerable impact on how thebusiness or brand is perceived and howit performs. And, in adding value, a gooddesigner will turn a building into atangible asset.
For that to happen, the architect needsto be brought on board early and towork with the client to understand theirbusiness or organisation. That way theycan design a building, a masterplan oran interior that fits exactly what theclient needs, with architecture that ispractical and functional, but also apleasure to live in, work in or visit.
Involving an architect early on alsoopens the door to cost savings bothin constructing and operating thebuilding through innovative designsolutions. And using an architect tomanage the project and coordinate thework of consultants and contractorscan save time and money in the long run.
Architects: creating value
Good design in actionJubilee Library, Brighton
A building of beauty and economy,completed on time and to budget, that the public have taken to their heartsJubilee Library is one example of therewards of thorough preparation andclose communication between the client and the design team.
Designed by Bennetts Associates andLCE Architects for a derelict city centresite, the building incorporates a host of bill-busting energy efficiency features,including heating and cooling systems thatutilise winter sun, natural ventilation, solarshading, wind towers and even the heatgenerated by people and equipment in the building.
The library has been a great success with the customers, who find the building thrilling. We feel that we have achieved with our partners an astonishingly beautiful buildingcombining a very strong aesthetic withits overall function, to truly work as aspace for learning, contemplation andinteraction. Katherine Pearce, projectmanager for Brighton and Hove City Council
Photo: Peter Cook/Bennetts Associates
Invest now or pay later
Using an architect makes soundfinancial sense. Of course, good advicehas its price but skimping on designquality will end up costing much moreover the long term. Design fees areusually just a small fraction of the totalcost of construction, and they fade intoinsignificance when measured againstthe operating costs of the building overits whole life.
Good design can maximise a buildingsefficiency and reduce its operatingcosts. Appointing an architect at thestart of a project gives them time toconsider and design the building as awhole, and to take measures that willmake it cheaper to run and capable of commanding greater value in thelong term.
Developing a solid working relationshipwith an architect, and spending time toflesh out the brief, the timeframe, thebudget, and the nature and cost ofother professional resources, willdramatically increase the chances of success.
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Nowhere do we feel the benefit ofgood design more than in our ownhomes and the spaces around them.We eat, sleep, work, rest and play here.In an increasingly complex and rapidlychanging world, our homes representstability and security. As more of usnow work from home, the divisionbetween work and home becomesmore blurred.
For thousands of years, people havedesigned and built their own habitats, to fit their own needs. Today, when our homes and neighbourhoods arecreated independently of us, they can often fail to provide the flexibility,functionality, comfort, privacy orfreedom that we need, and our qualityof life can suffer. And if a home fails towithstand the test of time and ofmarket changes that negative impacton our lives can be prolonged.
We know what makes a good home. It should offer enough room to accommodate its occupants and their lifestyles in comfort, in a peaceful,secure, private space, and use energyefficiently. Its surroundings orneighbourhood should provide abalance between private, semi-privateand public space, and offer all residentseasy, unfettered access.
There is no shortage of evidence of the significant impact good housingdesign can have on quality of life.
Building houses,making homes
Quality counts: the true impact of good design
Better places to live
Simple, affordable environmentalimprovements can make a morecontented, secure community. On the Westwood Estate in Peterborough, for example, residents mental health and satisfaction with their housingdevelopment were surveyed either side of an improvement programme. The differences were dramatic. Roadnarrowing, traffic calming, new garagesand hardstandings, new landscaping andlighting were all introduced. Alleywayswere blocked off to deter intruders.Properties received secure windows,porches and refurbished kitchens and bathrooms.
The improvements transformed the social atmosphere of the estate. Threeyears after the first survey, the boost tothe mental well-being and satisfaction onthe estate was put down to the physicalchanges and residents perceptions of them.1
The survey concluded: The researchpresented reminds us that environmentmatters that the design of houses,developments and cities has significantand demonstrable effects on thebehaviour and well-being of the people who live in them.2
Good design and maintenance ofneighbourhoods can help bring togetherpotentially divided communities. A studyof six areas of Bournville in Birmingham,where 40 per cent of housing is in thesocial rented sector, identified several keyprinciples for improving the harmony ofneighbourhoods with mixed tenure: ahigh-quality natural environment; high
architectural quality; an imaginative andcoherent planning framework; a sustainedestate management capacity; a sociallymixed community; and communityinvolvement in the management of the neighbourhood.3
Healthier places to live
The link between poor housing and poorhealth is well established. But only nowhas the true cost to society of poorlydesigned homes been quantified.
The Building Research Establishment(BRE) reported in 2010 that almost aquarter (4.8 million) of homes in Englandcontain defects that can give rise toCategory 1 hazards (measured by theHousing Health and Safety Rating System) hazards that can lead to serious healthrisks such as cardio-respiratory disease,stroke, asthma and even death caused byfalls, excess cold and other events.Estimates put the cost to the NHS ofthese hazards at 600 million per year,and the cost to individuals and societyfrom loss of earnings, for example, at 1.5billion per year.4
More than four million of these hazardoushomes are owner-occupied or rented inthe private sector. The BRE says that itsmodel clearly demonstrates that moneyinvested in improving poor housing couldhave a significant impact on improvinghealth and reducing the financial burdenon the NHS.5
The social cost of poor housing is alsounderlined by a study by the RoyalInstitution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).The RICS estimates that the UK spendsup to 2 billion per year treating illnessesarising from poor homes more than isspent by local authorities on their ownhousing stock.6
More marketable homes
According to a 2009 survey, more thanthree-quarters (78 per cent) of UKproperty agents believe good design tobe either important or very important inthe residential market. Almost the samenumber said good design had a positiveeffect on rental and capital values, and 89 per cent of agents claimed it had animportant or very important impact on occupancy and take-up rates.7
Good design in actionChimney Pot Park, Salford
In the 1990s, Chimney Pot Park's rooftopsfeatured in the opening credits ofCoronation Street. But in the empty and vandalised streets below, vibrantcommunity life had all but vanished, and by 2002 Salford City Council hadearmarked the terraces for demolition.
A combination of public protest,government cash and commitment from the developer Urban Splash savedthem. In just five years, Urban Splash andarchitects shedkm replaced the threat ofdemolition with the clamour of buyersqueuing to secure a desirable, affordablenew home. The typical price of aChimney Pot Park property has risen from 8,000 to as much as 150,000, but with a mix of tenure the high-qualitydesign has been enjoyed by a wide rangeof residents, who enthuse about the openspaces and the bright, vibrant interiors of their homes.
Photos: Morley von Sternberg
1 Halpern D (1995) Mental health and the built environment: more than bricks and mortar? Taylor & Francis, London2 Ibid3 Groves R, Middleton A, Murie A and Broughton K (2003)Neighbourhoods that work: A study of the Bournville estate,Birmingham, The Policy Press for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
4 Roys M, Davidson M, Nicol S, Ormandy D and Ambrose P (2010) The Real Cost of Poor Housing, BRE Trust Report FB23, BRE Press5 Ibid6 Barrow M and Bachan R (1997) The real cost of poor homes: footingthe bill, RICS, London, cited in CABE (2001) The value of good design,CABE, London
7 Survey by Spirul Research, February 2009
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Good design in actionAccordia, Cambridge
Replacing dilapidated prefabricated unitsand old government buildings, theAccordia scheme provided both gooddesign and a high number of affordableunits (30 per cent of the scheme). Allproperties are close to open spaces, slowspeed streets and communal play areas.
In 2008, Accordia, designed by FeildenClegg Bradley Studios with MaccreanorLavington and Alison Brooks Architects,became the first housing scheme to winthe RIBA Stirling Prize. High-densityhousing at its best, Accordia marked aparadigm shift in British housing. It sent amessage to house builders and politiciansthat housing is about homes, not units:good residential design is fundamental inshaping the quality of people's lives andtheir attitudes to society.
Photos: Tim Crocker (top) David Grandorge (left)
Good design can helpbuild strong communitiesWell-designed neighbourhoods are wherepeople feel safe, included and at home.They are where residents can feel asense of social identity and civic pride,where they are encouraged to interactwith their neighbours in ways that help tostrengthen the community. In such places,there are, in turn, benefits to peopleshealth, prosperity, good will, morale andself-esteem. New neighbourhoods likethese, with well-designed homes, spacesand facilities, can retain and improve theappeal of an existing area.
create spacious, flexiblehomes that keep their value
We all need the space to live our lives. In family homes, kitchens with the spacefor a table can bring family memberstogether, over meals, homework, gamesor around a computer. Homes should beflexible, too, to adapt to a householdschanging needs over time. Is there roomfor a stair lift or a downstairs bathroom, for example?
reduce crimeThe natural surveillance provided bypassers-by, or by windows and balconiesoverlooking streets and open spaces, is enough to deter most crime and vandalism. Well-designedneighbourhoods promote this casualpolicing, which can work alongside moreformal schemes for watching over oneanothers homes. Thoughtfully sited carparking and bicycle storage, as well aswell-integrated refuse and recycling bins,contribute not only to a sense of order but also reduce litter, vandalism and theft.Police services award Secured by Designcertificates to homes and developmentswhose design deters crime. It considersthe materials and design of entry pointssuch as doors and windows, thedeployment of burglar alarms and video entry systems, and the naturalsurveillance offered by windows to open spaces.
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When we talk about improving thequality of the built environment forfuture generations, shouldnt we start with schools?
School is not just for schoolwork: it iswhere many of our most importantvalues, ideas and relationships areshaped. Likewise, the schoolenvironment is not just a backdrop forthese experiences: it plays an activepart in all of them. Not only that, ourschools leave an indelible impression on our minds one that we carry intoadulthood of how public buildingsshould be. What better way toencourage higher standards of design than to instil them in the next generation?
The numerous benefits of good designin schools and other educationalbuildings and the hazards of poordesign are well established. As longago as 1874, E R Robson, architect to theLondon School Board, stressed theimportance of sunlight and fresh air inschool: They are to a young child verymuch what they are to a flower.8
Today, those classroom observationsare backed up by the evidence. We know that poor air quality can
lead to drowsiness and affectconcentration, and that overheating has a similar effect.
An over-reliance on electric lighting can increase the frequency ofheadaches, eyestrain and fatigue;lighting classrooms naturally instead not only saves energy but has alsobeen shown to improve concentration.And good acoustics that supportcommunication are fundamental togood academic performance andinclusive teaching spaces.
Design is no less vital in creating andequipping the range of spaces neededin successful higher educationbuildings: spaces that encourageinformal conversations and theexchange of ideas; breakout spaces for more formal discussions held atshort notice; conference rooms forteam-based meetings; and socialspaces where students and staff canrelax or mingle with colleagues fromother disciplines.
Without necessarily adding to the costof educational buildings, we can offeryoung people a lesson in design thatlasts a lifetime.
Educational buildings, and design lessons that last a lifetime
Research by PricewaterhouseCoopersreported that capital investment in schoolpremises and IT had a measurable impacton learning,14 and that investments inimproving school buildings increased staffmorale, pupil motivation and effectivelearning time.15
Other studies have charted the rewards of good school design and planning, suchas improved relationships with the localcommunity, better recruitment andretention of staff, and easier supervision ofpupils at break and lunch times to reducetruancy, bullying and vandalism. In a recentsurvey, the overwhelming majority ofteachers (95.8 per cent) agreed that theschool environment had an influence on pupil behaviour.16
Higher-quality higher education
A major study commissioned in 2003investigated how high-quality buildingscan affect recruitment, retention, behaviourand performance of higher education staffand students.17 The research was basedon the opinions of staff and students atfive campuses in the UK with new, high-quality buildings. The results, published in2005, showed that around 60 per cent of students and staff believed that thedesign quality of their institution positivelyinfluenced their decision to work or studythere and 70 per cent believed that thefunctions and facilities of the buildingsthey worked in improved the way theyfeel and behave. Design quality wasespecially important for academic staff (65 per cent) and postgraduate students(72 per cent).
Quality counts: the true impact of good design
Environments that enhancelearning
Design dictates the basic environmentalconditions air quality, temperature, noiselevel that determine the quality oflearning in a school. A major review of existing research by a team at theUniversity of Newcastles Centre forLearning and Teaching found strongevidence that the quality of learning cansuffer if minimum standards in thesevariables are not achieved by a school building.9
We know enough about the effects of poor design on learning to make themistakes of the past avoidable. We knowthat, in poorly ventilated classrooms, thebuild-up of carbon monoxide can lead todrowsiness among pupils,10 and thatairborne bacteria exacerbate asthma.11
We know that high noise levels makelearning harder.12 And we know about thebenefits of natural lighting: a 1999 US studyfound that students with the most daylightin their classrooms progressed 20 percent faster in maths tests and 26 per centfaster in reading tests than those with the least daylight.13
Good design in actionChrists College secondary school, Guildford
The new Christs College secondaryschool, designed by DSDHA and openedin 2009, replaces a failing 1960s school.The design of the new building helps todeter disruptive behaviour, reduceopportunities for bullying, reconnect theschool with the local community, and instila sense of civic pride.
The innovative breathing wall systemprovides each classroom with sustainableheating and ventilation through aperforated brick skin.
[There has been] a huge, huge changein the behaviour of the students, a hugechange in the academic proclivity of the students. Our children respect thisbuilding; we have no graffiti, we havealmost zero litter. The kids have risen tothe challenge of the building. Paul Riley,senior assistant principal, Christs Collegesecondary school
Photo: Dennis Gilbert
8 Robson E R (1874) School Architecture, John Murray, London9 Higgins S, Hall E, Wall K, Woolner P and McCaughey C (2005) The impact of school environments: a literature review, produced for the Design Council by the University of Newcastle
10Myhrvold A N, Olsen E and Lauridsen O (1996) Indoor environment in schools: Pupils' health and performance in regard to CO2 concentrations, Indoor Air 1996, vol 4, pp 3697111 Environmental Protection Agency (2000) Indoor air quality andstudent performance, EPA report number EPA 402-F-00-009,Washington DC
12 Schneider M (2002) Do School Facilities Affect AcademicOutcomes? National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities13 Heschong Mahone Group (1999) Daylighting in schools: aninvestigation into the relationship between daylighting and humanperformance, prepared for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company
14 PricewaterhouseCoopers for Department for Education and Skills, 200315 PricewaterhouseCoopers for Department for Education and Skills, 200116 2010 Schools Environment Survey by the Teacher Support Network and the British Council for School Environments (BCSE), with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers17 CABE (2005) Design with distinction: The value of good buildingdesign in higher education, CABE, London
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Good design in actionSunfield, Stourbridge
At Sunfield, a residential school for childrenaged six to 19 with severe and complexlearning difficulties, new purpose-builtpremises have made a dramaticdifference to pupils well-being.
GA Architects design responded directlyto the particular needs of staff and theyoung autistic people in their care.Soundproofing has instilled an air of calmand quiet. Radiators potential climbingframes for some children with autism have been replaced by underfloor heating.Curved corridors help to guide childrenaround the building and the large numberof windows allows them to play outsidewith more autonomy while beingsupervised unobtrusively.
Children are calmer, more independentand enjoying better sleep. There has beena noticeable drop in challenging behaviour,too. Living together has become a wholelot easier, for both staff and children.
Photo: GA Architects
Good design in actionBristol Brunel Academy, Bristol
At Bristol Brunel Academy, the firstBuilding Schools for the Future school to be completed, the National Foundationfor Educational Research (NFER) studiedthe impact on pupil behaviour before andafter the new school building opened in2007. The design, by Wilkinson EyreArchitects, emphasised the theme ofcommunications, the schools specialism,by arranging the three storeys ofeducational spaces around a long centralstreet, with a series of internal footbridgescriss-crossing between the balconies.The project included improvements to the landscaping and playing fields to allow community use of the grounds.
The before-and-after study by NFERfound that incidents of vandalism hadfallen by more than 50 per cent, thenumber of pupils who said bullying wasan issue for them was down by 23 percent, and the number saying they felt safe at school was up 30 per cent.18
Good design in actionWren Academy, Friern Barnet, London
Wren Academy, designed by Penoyre &Prasad, specialises in design and the builtenvironment, and its revitalised premises a mixture of refurbishment and new-build have been designed to support thecurriculum and inspire students, with aclearly expressed structure and anemphasis on materials and transparency.
Learning spaces are easily adaptable to different class sizes and teachingmethods, and natural ventilation,daylighting, super-insulation, airtightnessand a biomass boiler have helped achievea BREEAM rating of very good.
I think that our students are immenselyproud of the building. We invited themto bring their parents and they did intheir hundreds. Thats evidence thatthis is something that they care aboutand also of their confidence andsecurity.Michael Whitworth,headteacher, Wren Academy
Photo: Tim Soar
Good design in actionCentre for CollaborativeConstruction Research,Loughborough University
The shape of higher education andresearch changes faster than buildingscan, and institutions face a continuingchallenge to modify and improve theirteaching and research accommodation to fit these new demands.
With academics and researchersscattered across four separate buildings in poor-quality environments, unable tointeract effectively, LoughboroughUniversitys Engineering Facultys plan to establish a Centre for CollaborativeConstruction Research sought to bringthem all together. Swanke Hayden ConnellArchitects united the group by adding acurved, cellular, three-storey building to theexisting block. Now, staff and studentscan work individually in the offices of thenew extension, collaborate in the newlycreated open spaces of the existingbuilding, and mix informally in the atrium in between.
The combi-office has been particularlysuccessful in allowing staff to workundisturbed in a study or to work andrelax with others in the open areas. Wesee much more of each other! At thesame time it has been important to giveundergraduate students direct accessto tutors in either private or open andinformal locations. Simon Austin,Professor of Structural Engineering, Centrefor Collaborative Construction Research,Loughborough University
Photo: Andrew Putlet
Good design can helpsupport learning andencourage good behaviour
Well-designed schools are easy tonavigate for both pupils and staff, and offergood visibility for the supervision of pupils,which can help cut down disruptivebehaviour, bullying and truancy. Naturallighting, a supply of fresh air and goodacoustics should be the minimumrequirement for a good-quality learningenvironment, while using durable materialsand systems can reduce vandalism andmaintenance bills.
build higher educationenvironments with strongidentities
Many of the UKs newer universities haveused design to help create a strong, clearidentity for themselves that can attractstaff and students. It has been shown thatthe appearance, features and facilities ofnew university buildings have a strongbearing on how staff and students feel,behave and perform there.
Good design can help address the needsof a modern university department,creating spaces for private study,collaboration, formal and informalmeetings, and socialising.
Photos: James Brittain
18 Rudd P, Reed F and Smith P (2008) The effects of the schoolenvironment on young peoples attitudes to education and learning, NFER
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Healthcare buildings: a suitable case for treatment
Ever since Florence Nightingale wroteabout the recuperative benefits of freshair, daylight and views of the outsideworld, architecture has played a part inpatient care. Hospital design doctrineshave come and gone, but experiencehas told us what works and whatdoesnt, and taught us the value ofincluding every kind of user specialists, nursing staff, patients andpublic in the planning and designing of healthcare facilities from the outset.
This kind of well-informed advancedplanning leads to efficient, effective,flexible facilities in which medical staffhave more time to spend on caring forpatients and advising their families. Itallows staff to concentrate on whatthey do best, and reduces stress,fatigue and the chances of mistakes.Patients in wards that are carefullyplanned are easier to observe andmonitor, which gives patients greaterreassurance. Single-occupancy roomsoffer more privacy and are less prone to the kind of errors, accidents andairborne infections that can afflict larger wards.
Good, user-centred design byintegrated teams of designprofessionals and users can give us thehospitals and healthcare facilities we allwant. With sufficient upfront investmentof time and resources for properplanning, the places where peoplerecover can live longer, healthier,happier lives themselves.
Quality counts: the true impact of good design
Shorter stays for patients
Theres a long history of research intotherapeutic environments and their impacton patient recovery. A survey in 2004 of the literature extracted key findings,19
patients with access to daylight andexternal views require less medication20
and recover faster21 22
single-occupancy rooms can reducemedical errors and encourage friendsand family to visit, which in turn leads to greater support and faster recovery
patients recover faster in quieterenvironments, where they are able to rest and sleep more easily.23
Noise levels also affect how stressednursing staff feel.24
Theres also strong evidence that nature whether a garden or courtyard or viewfrom a window does much more thanprovide a pleasant setting. Researchshows that it can have a direct impact on reducing stress and pain and speeding up recovery.25
Over 90 per cent of nurses and alldirectors of nursing believe that a well-designed environment is significantlylinked to patient recovery rates.26
Research looking at nurses opinions oftheir working environment has clearlydemonstrated the importance that healthworkers attach to the quality of theirworking environment.27 Six out of sevennurses (87 per cent) believe that theycould do their job better in a well-designedhospital. Three-quarters (74 per cent) saythat the quality of a hospital building, itsinteriors and setting make a significantdifference when looking for a new job.And 90 per cent of directors of nursingclaim that patients behave better towardstheir nurses in well-designed wards and rooms.
Less hazardous hospitals
There is strong evidence that hospital-acquired infection rates are lower insingle-bed rooms than in multi-bed wards:airborne transmission is reduced andthere are fewer surfaces shared bypatients. The chances of medicationerrors are less than in larger wards, too, where patient transfers can lead to mistakes.
Research suggests that making morewashbasins and alcohol dispensersavailable in readily accessible locationshas an impact on hospital-acquiredinfections,28 and that airborne transfer ofdiseases to medical staff can be reducedby good ventilation systems with regularlyserviced filters.29
Good planning of healthcare units can cutthe amount of time nurses spend walkingand give them more time with patientsand their families.30
Good design in actionJubilee Gardens Primary Care Centre and Library, Ealing, London
The patient journey was key to the design of the Jubilee Gardens PrimaryCare Centre and Library, completed inJanuary 2010. Architects Penoyre &Prasad carefully considered theapproaches to the centre, the quality of the waiting spaces and the ease with which people could find their wayaround. The spacious, two-storey glazedentrance provides access to GP practices,treatment rooms, minor surgery facilities,audiology, health visitor and district nurseservices as well as the library.
The highly sustainable building whichachieved a NEAT (NHS EnvironmentalAssessment Tool) rating of excellent will be able to adapt as the nature ofhealthcare evolves: larger rooms will allow spaces to be used for a range of potential services.
Staff have benefited from a fit-for-purposeworking environment that allows them tofocus on what really counts deliveringexceptional healthcare.
Photo: Nick Kane
19CABE/PricewaterhouseCoopers (2004) The role of hospital designin the recruitment, retention and performance of NHS nurses inEngland, Appendices, CABE, London20 Lawson B and Phiri M (2003) The architectural healthcareenvironment and its effects on patient health outcomes 21 Beauchemin K and Hays P (1998) Dying in the dark: sunshine,gender and outcomes in myocardial infarction, Journal of the RoyalSociety of Medicine, vol 91, 1998, pp 352-35422 Beauchemin K and Hays P (1996) Sunny hospital rooms expediterecovery from severe and refractory depressions, Journal of AffectiveDisorders 40, 1996, pp 49-51
23 Southwell M and Wistow G (1995) Sleep in hospitals at night: arepatients needs being met?, Journal of Advanced Nursing 1995, 21, pp 1101-110924 Bayo M V, Garcia A M and Garcia A (1995) Noise levels in an urbanhospital and workers' subjective responses, Archives of EnvironmentalHealth 50(3), pp 247-25125 Ulrich R and Zimring C (2004) The role of the physical environment in the hospital of the 21st century: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, The Center for Health Design, CA26 Attitudes towards hospitals, CABE/ICM study, cited in CABE (2003)Radical Improvements in Hospital Design, CABE, London
27 Ibid28 Ulrich R and Zimring C (2004) The role of the physical environmentin the hospital of the 21st century: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, The Center for Health Design, CA29Menzies D, Fanning A, Yan L, Fitzgerald JM (2000) Hospitalventilation and risk for tuberculosis infection in Canadian healthworkers, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2000, vol 133, no 10, pp 779-78930 Jones D, Mitchell A, Lean Enterprises Academy UK (2006) Leanthinking for the NHS, NHS Confederation
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Good design can help
build healthier hospitalsGood design and planning can maximisethe use of space in a building andincrease the number of single-occupancyrooms in a hospital without significantlyadding to the project cost. Single roomsincrease privacy and encourage visitors,which can aid recovery, reduce hospital-acquired infection rates and lower the riskof medication errors. Well-designedhospitals also maximise the amount ofdaylight, fresh air and external viewsthroughout a hospital, which have beenshown to speed up recovery times.
improve the lives of health workers
When a facility has been carefully plannedwith the input of its users, medical staffhave what they need closer to hand andare able to spend more time on patientcare. Wards are easier to monitor, staffstress and fatigue are reduced and thebuilding becomes easier to navigate forvisitors. Design that makes use of good-quality materials, furniture and fittings,natural lighting and views internal andexternal can lift the spirits of staff as wellas patients, and help to attract and retaintalented doctors, nurses and other staff.
At the new Skypad Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in Cardiff, for example, a leadnurse said: Its a much more relaxed andpleasant place for all of us and that liftseveryones morale.
Good design in actionThe Arches Centre, Belfast
Bright, cheery coloursan airy, daylit,street-like atrium softly curved walls and balconies a three-storey light-basedartwork and a fully grown fig tree in the middle of it all Not the picture of yourtypical district health centre, is it? TheArches Centre is one of three newhealthcare centres in east Belfast, whichtogether replace a collection of 42 smallerspecialist units scattered across the area.A key aim of the Arches project was tocreate, by design, a healing and upliftingenvironment for patients and staff. Goodspace standards, lots of natural light,colour and texture, easy wayfinding
and high-quality materials, furnishings and fittings are all vital elements.Architects Penoyre & Prasad, togetherwith Todd Architects, also focused onproviding accommodation that wasflexible and able to meet the needs ofrapidly changing practice and technology.
These buildings spell out somethingpositive, something bright and fresh.Theyve been recognised as somethinggood in Northern Ireland. John Cole,Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Health Estates
Photo: Dennis Gilbert
The days have long passed sinceemployers and property developerscould get away with office buildings that offered no more than a place to put desks. Today, three-quarters of UKGDP is generated by the largely office-dwelling service industries and formost employees their work is done at desks.
The demand for high-qualityworkplaces is rising all the time andforward-thinking businesses arerealising the asset value of commercialproperties with higher exchange orrental values.
Good design can create offices thatemployees want to work in. There iscomprehensive evidence of user-centred workplaces contributing to the recruitment and retention of staff, to productivity, well-being and reducedabsenteeism. Simply getting elementssuch as workstation layouts, spaceallocations, air quality, acoustics andlighting right can make the differencebetween a hard-working office and aless productive one.
Good buildings are good business,whatever the economic climate. Butworkplaces can inspire, too. Innovative,engaging, flexible workplaces are morelikely to encourage forward thinking andfresh ideas than anonymous, lifelessspaces. They also say a lot about theemployer. Much can be read into abrand not just from the way itsemployees are accommodated, but also from how issues such assustainability are addressed through its buildings.
Companies that use architecture tocreate buildings that add positively tothe urban fabric, and can respond tosocial, economic and environmentalchanges, are making a statement about their values and also about theirconfidence in their own future. They are creating an inheritance for the builtenvironment that everyone, not just the occupants, will value.
Quality counts: the true impact of good design
A more valued, moreproductive workforce
There is plenty of evidence that poorindoor air quality and poor thermalcomfort affect productivity in theworkplace. But, according to a researchteam that has studied office buildingsextensively, there are four killer variablesof productivity that are directly influencedby building design and management:
the degree of personal control foremployees over blinds, windows andbuilding services that affect theirenvironment
responsiveness of facilities managers to staff discomfort
building depth, which tends to reduceproductivity and satisfaction as itincreases
workgroup size: smaller, more integratedgroups are perceived to be moreproductive.31
In leading businesses, the procurement of new bespoke headquarters isfrequently seen as part of a widerprocess to transform how the companydoes business. In a study of 10 topcompanies in 2004, the most highly ratedmotivation was to improve employeesatisfaction, with businesses aiming toboost profitability by reducing hierarchyand encouraging creativity andcommunication.32
31 Leaman A and Bordass B Productivity in buildings: the killervariables, in Clements-Croome D (editor) (2000) Creating theproductive workplace, E & FN Spon, London32 Rouse J (2004) Measuring value or only cost: the need for newvaluation methods, in Macmillan S (2004) Designing Better Buildings,Spon Press, London, pp 55-71
16Good design it all adds up Good design it all adds up 17
Good design in action30 Finsbury Square, London
Skilled architects can create externalforms and faades that soften the impactof large office buildings on sensitive citycentre sites, and in so doing help secureall-important planning consent.
The Eric Parry Architects design for 30 Finsbury Square won consent fordeveloper Scottish Widows plc in a centralLondon conservation area by reconcilingthe demand for large open-plan officefloors with that for a building envelope that didnt overpower its surroundings.
The flexible, column-free floors and light-filled central atrium provide an enviableworkplace, while the faade offers anopen and transparent face to FinsburySquare with floor-to-ceiling recessedwindows of varying size.
Good design can helpboost productivityThere are many physical andenvironmental influences on the waypeople work in offices and it takes agood designer to get them all working in a buildings favour. The factors to thinkabout include: the control of air quality,temperature, humidity, lighting, glare and acoustics; space planning, fromindividual workstations to shared spacesto circulation and access; and the creation of flexible work spaces that canaccommodate a wide range of workingpatterns and meetings.
turn an overhead into an asset
Commercial buildings with perceivedarchitectural merit are worth more on the balance sheet. Not only that, they can add value to the brand and project a positive corporate image just look athow the architecture and environmentalengineering of the Gherkin have broughtSwiss Re to popular attention.
In 2003, a Management Today surveyreported that 94 per cent of officeemployees regard the quality of theirworkplace as an indication of how highlythey are valued by their employer.33 Only39 per cent believed their offices hadbeen designed with users in mind. Other extensive research broughttogether in 2005 provides evidence thatwell-designed workplaces support therecruitment and retention of staff, reduceabsenteeism, improve profitability andproject a positive corporate image.34
Good design makes good businesssense. Studies have correlated high-quality design with higher returns oninvestment. Research by the PropertyCouncil of Australia,35 for example, foundthat all eight buildings in a group chosenby a design selection panel brought inhigher-than-average returns.
Property owners are enjoying ahandsome payback from greenarchitecture, too. Recent evidence basedon US data shows that, even in difficulteconomic times, more sustainable officebuildings can offer economic benefits toinvestors, including higher rents and lowerrisk premiums. The study found that greenoffice buildings performed better duringthe economic downturn of 2008 and 2009than comparable non-green high-qualityproperty investments. Rents andoccupancy rates were higher forproperties with energy-efficiencymeasures built in.36
Good design in actionFar Gosford Street, Coventry
Not everything was lost in Coventry in thebombing raids of 1940. Some shreds ofthe historic city survived the destruction,including Far Gosford Street, which isundergoing transformation into anindustrious, creative neighbourhood with a mix of commercial properties. Strippingaway hoardings and modern faades,masterplanners PCPT Architectsdiscovered buildings from the 16th centuryto the 1950s. The restoration of these foroccupation by small businesses such asretailers and cafs will be followed by the addition of new-build offices, socialhousing and student accommodation.Close to both the city centre andCoventry University, the new, pedestrian-friendly FarGo will offer a vibrant businessdistrict capable of attracting high-qualitysmall business tenants.
Rendered image (top): PCPT ArchitectsPhoto (above): Andy Moore
Photos: Hlne Binet
33 CABE (2005) The impact of office design on business performance, CABE, London34 Ibid35 Property Council of Australia (1999) The Design Dividend, PCA, Canberra36 Eichholtz P, Kok N and Quigley J (2010) Sustainability and thedynamics of green buildings: new evidence on the financialperformance of green office buildings in the USA, RICS, London
18Good design it all adds up Good design it all adds up 19
Public space: a place for us all
The quality of public space in our citiesand towns is more important than ever to both our individual well-being andthat of our communities.
How our streets, squares, parks andopen spaces are planned and designedhas a direct impact on our feelings ofidentity, belonging and personal safety.They define our experience of an urbanenvironment just as much as possiblymore than the buildings in it. Theyinfluence strongly how we feel about a neighbourhood or district, andwhether we want to spend more timethere, or even live or work there. Forthat reason, they can make or breaklocal economies.
Good planning and design bring out the character of a neighbourhood andstrengthen its sense of identity. Theycreate a sustainable mix of uses homes, shops, businesses and civicfacilities that encourages walking,cycling and social interaction, which can also be a powerful deterrent ofcrime and unsociable behaviour.
Quality counts: the true impact of good design
The whole community feels the benefit of a commitment to good green space.Greater biodiversity, better air quality and a healthier population are just someof the rewards.37 Research reported in The Lancet confirmed that access togreen space is beneficial to peopleshealth, regardless of their economiccircumstances, and that how well greenspace is used is directly related to itsquality.38 Evidence from deprived areaswith higher levels of physical inactivityamong residents showed that investing in the quality of parks and green spaces is an important way to tackle inequalities in health and well-being.39
Research carried out in 2002 revealed that people felt that the quality of publicspace and the built environment had adirect impact on their lives and the waythey feel.40
When a district or town or city is able toconnect a network of well-designed, well-managed public spaces, residents areencouraged to get around under theirown steam. In Copenhagen, for example,the creation of such a network, togetherwith traffic calming measures, led to a 65per cent rise in bicycle use over 25 years.41
In 2005 a detailed study of eight recentlyrefurbished parks around the countryrevealed clear evidence of a premium in the property market for homes thatoverlooked or were close to good-qualityparks, gardens or squares.42 The premiumon properties surveyed ranged from zeroto 34 per cent when close to a park andfrom 3 to 34 per cent when overlooking a park and averaged around 5 per cent.
Good design in actionGeorge Street Quarter, St Helens
The area of St Helens richest in historicbuildings was, until recently, one of itsmost neglected and unwelcoming. Its regeneration has included majorimprovements to the public realm, such as new pedestrian surfacing, streetfurniture, signage and lighting, as well as new road alignments and parkingarrangements. A derelict park and formerburial ground have been remodelled asnew green spaces. The public spaceimprovements, designed by Taylor Young,together with those to shop fronts, thetrain station and historic buildings, havehelped to reduce crime, increase rentalvalues, revive the areas housing marketand give a measurable boost to theperformance of local businesses.
Photos: Stuart Rayner Photography
Good design in actionLiverpool ONE
The creation of an entirely new quarter in Liverpools city centre involved amodernising approach to urban designthat retained a deep sensitivity to ideas of place, identity and scale, knitting thedevelopment into the existing streetpattern and connecting it with thewaterfront. Just as important to itssuccess as the retail space, bars,restaurants, cinema and 600 apartmentsare the rehabilitated streets and spaces,which include a remodelled five-acre park overlooked by a new hotel.
Masterplanner BDP also provided thelandscape designers to rethink the publicrealm, and a team to design the lightingacross the scheme, which has unified andrevitalised the city and helped to create3,500 new jobs. Liverpool ONE welcomedover 24 million visitors in 2010, and thenumber continues to grow.
Photo: David Thrower
Good design can helprevitalise run-downneighbourhoods
The way urban design can give new life to neighbourhoods and communities is by giving people more reasons to gothere. Design that reinforces an areasdistinctiveness, improves connections,encourages a mix of uses and createsinviting public spaces can give localpeople more choice, make their lives moreconvenient, attract visitors and supportlocal businesses.
Public spaces can be transformed bydesign that uses robust materials for hardand soft landscaping, and signage andstreet furniture that are attractive, durableand serviceable, and by regular cleaningand maintenance.
37 CABE (2004) The value of public space, CABE, London38Mitchell R and Popham F (2008) Effect of exposure to naturalenvironment on health inequalities: an observational population study,The Lancet, vol 37239 CABE (2010) Urban green nation: building the evidence base, CABE, London
40 CABE (2002) Streets of shame: summary of findings from Public attitudes to Architecture and the Built Environment, CABE, London41 Gehl J and Gemzoe L (1996) Public spaces, public life, Danish Architectural Press, Copenhagen42 CABE (2005) Does money grow on trees? CABE, London
20Good design it all adds up Good design it all adds up 21
delivering what the client has asked for
inclusiveness andaccessibility for all
fitness for purpose, without expensive add-ons
sustainability, integrated into the fabric and use of the building
low-as-possible running and maintenance costs
delivering a return oninvestment
having a positive impact on the environment
completion on-time and on-budget
providing the flexibility for a future change of use
cost-effectiveness: in the long term, good designalways costs less than bad design
delivering value over thewhole life of the building
Good design, above all, is about deliveringto the client what they want. Which is whythe process of establishing exactly whatthat is is the most important of the entiredesign phase. Every good building startswith a good brief.
So what makes a good brief? It shouldcapture all the clients needs from abuilding, and reflect all their aspirations for it. It should describe the function of the finished project and how it will beused, state expectations and specialrequirements, indicate a design direction,establish a single point of contact on theclients side, and set a realistic timeframeand budget. And it needs to be clear andunambiguous so that it can act as aroadmap for the project and guide thedifferent groups involved in delivering it.
Its a tall order one that an architect willbe happy to help with. In jointly formulatingthe brief over a number of discussions,the client and their architect can alsoestablish, at the outset, the dialogue andunderstanding that will be vital to the final success of the project.
We were involved from an early stage.The design process was a genuinepartnership. There has been anexcellent exchange of ideas. It has beenfascinating to see the education anddesign approaches brought together the combined approaches of thearchitect and the teacher. We have gotthe building that we needed.MichaelWhitworth, headteacher, Wren Academy
But even before the brief when firstbeginning to think about a project aclient may find that they need guidance in the right direction. This is where a ClientAdviser accredited by the RIBA can help.RIBA Client Advisers are experiencedconstruction professionals trained to giveindependent advice on how best tomaximise quality and value. Their inputcan be invaluable when the project getsoff the ground, helping it run smoothly andefficiently and achieving the best value.
Good design in actionSkypad: Teenage Cancer Trust Unit, Cardiff
Skypad, a Teenage Cancer Trust Unit, is a good demonstration of the value ofthorough upfront thinking and discussionbetween client and design team. Theyoung patients themselves, their familiesand friends all worked closely with theTrust, specialist doctors and nurses andORMS Architecture Design to create aplace that meets their needs, both clinicaland non-clinical.
A range of rooms and spaces makes sure patients have access to privacy anddifferent forms of relaxation wheneverthey need it. These include a chill-out pod,an outside terrace, a parents room and aden between each three-bed bay, wherepatients can come together to read, study,chat or go online. For patients needing the most sensitive care there are single-bed bays with ensuite bathrooms, music, study stations, TVs and seating for parents.
One 15-year-old patient said: When I wason the regular ward, time really dragged.Now, while I wouldnt say I look forwardto going to hospital, at least time goesquickly. I meet other people who are inthe same boat as me and we play pooland hang out. Its like home exceptmore fun!
And another: It doesnt feel like being inhospital. It makes having treatment a loteasier as Im not focusing on that theres other things happening.
Photos: James Brittain
The ingredients of good design
and how to get it