Last month the Design Commission in partnership with the BRE Trust – published the report ‘People and Places: Design of the Built Environment and Behaviour from the Design Commission’. It was written following an inquiry chaired by key figures, including Baroness Whitaker.
The report, endorsed by Kevin McCloud and Richard Rogers outlines 19 recommendations to be considered by central and local government to ‘Develop strategy to make Britain a better place to live, work and relax’.
We have read the 58 page document and we are impressed, although it’s not something you flick through over a quick coffee. It’s requires thinking time. So knowing how busy most of you are, we thought we’d summarise the key strands and recommendations of this report, focusing on those relevant to our practises at Workspace Design.
Why was this report needed?
The Design Commission believe that there is a distinctive link between design and behaviour, which is not being wholly considered in current practise or policy. They want a clearer, more decisive framework in place which emphasises the influence and impact the places people inhabit have on their overall health.
The Design Commission states that ‘in designing and constructing the environments in which people live and work, architects and planners are necessarily involved in influencing human behaviour’.
This reports calls upon the Government and private sector to consider this report to shape future policy and acknowledge and promote the design/behaviour link:
‘there are clear design principles that can be led at different governmental levels, and that the private sector has a key role to play as a behavioural change leader, rather than simply an implementer of policy.’
Evidence was presented from an array of sources and experts along with case studies and best practise examples which showed ‘how infrastructure can be used to design for positive behaviours and how design-led planning policy can create environments in which individuals and communities thrive’.
The main areas concentrated on were: Healthy behaviours, Environmentally sustainable behaviours, Socially cohesive behaviours and Productive, innovative and creative behaviours –these being the key features thought ‘to improve the relationship of citizens within the built environment’.
Here are some of the key points in the relevant recommendations:
*The report considers how offices often do not work for the people working in them. It highlighted the need for the UK to have clearer policies, as Europe does, on factors such as defining the maximum distance any desk can be from natural daylight.
*The role of certain elements – natural light, fresh air, noise levels, indoor plants, bright colours and temperature – were explored with regards to their effects on wellbeing and productivity.
*The report encourages the government to work with spatial experts and the private sector to give workers more autonomy over their environment, realising the influence spatial layout has on movement, interaction and communication.
*It highlights the need for workplaces to promote social interaction:
‘…new workplace environments should be developed around a sense of helping to develop a sense of community by safeguarding meeting places that are conductive for social interactions, shared spaces should be incorporated into all developments that are comfortably lit and safe’.
*It recommends the ‘Government should establish a formal cost-benefit analysis of how design elements impact on behaviour in the built environment’.
*It calls for more clarity on what the design goal is in terms of wellbeing benefits, which may require designers to develop new approaches to the design of buildings.
The report is invaluable to shaping future policy in this area. It is an ongoing challenge ensuring the workplace is balanced – functional, aesthetically pleasing, brand-reflective and considered, containing all the elements that ensure people are healthy and happy at work. Offices are more than places to work; they are places to meet, collaborate, generate ideas, close deals, spaces to drive innovation and facilitate social engagement, therefore they need to be agile and flexible in their design.
As humans we react and interact with our environment. We are affected and effected by our environment. And this needs to be considered in basic design principles. We have a responsibility to keep the workforce productive and sustainable, especially when you consider millions of us spend upwards of 40 hours a week inside one.
We feel confident we already practice the recommendations outlined in this report by always creating workspaces we would want to work in.
Why not get in touch and ask some questions. And let’s see how we can help you create the office you’ll love to work in: firstname.lastname@example.org