Human-centered Buildings

Image courtesy of EPSRC -Refresh Project 

Image courtesy of EPSRC -Refresh Project 

Applying human-centered design thinking for buildings can prove useful to better serve occupants. What matters most is keeping people at the center for creating a satisfying and positive building experience. Smart design, technology and efficient operations are just a few examples from many, used to enhance the human experience in buildings. When devising a strategy, consider the entire environment of the human experience, from exterior surroundings, interior spaces, common areas and overall ambiance. 

Lives play out in physical environments and people perceive these environments using all their senses: sound, sight, feel, smell and taste. The goal is to reinforce and connect the occupants to the building, and promote a sense of place. To truly be human centered we must carefully balance and fulfill the needs of all users of the space. By keeping people at the center of the building experience, and testing ideas with them directly, you’re far more likely to arrive at solutions that they’ll adopt and embrace.

It starts with digging in and hearing the occupant’s voices. Owners and buildings management should talk directly with the people their looking to serve, visit their offices, immerse in their workplaces, and present them with different and creative ideas about what might improve their building experience. Whenever possible, conduct interviews in the people’s space. You can learn so much about their mindsets, behaviors and lifestyles by talking with them where they live or work. This allows for a holistic sense of the occupants workplace, likes, dislikes and challenges they face.

Human-centered buildings offers problem solvers a chance to deeply understand the people and occupants they’re looking to serve, to dream up scores of ideas, and to create innovative solutions rooted in people’s actual needs. It's easy to get wrapped up into all the latest innovations buildings can offer with internet of things, smart sensors, energy efficient solutions, big data and analytics. But, the key to where to apply all this helpful innovation should center on occupants use, needs and human connection to the building.