Insights June 01, 2020

Back to school

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Post Occupancy (or Building Performance) Evaluations aren’t as commonplace as they should be in architecture. Maybe because the gains don’t always appear immediate or obvious, but like learning a foreign language as a child there is definitely value. Following up after all is said and done is a great way of extending a relationship with clients, checking in to see that the final outcome matched the aspirations – or suggesting tweaks to help that happen – and also learning key lessons to apply to future projects.

We recently went back to the Wentworth Nursery School in Hackney. Almost a full school year had passed so we were certain they had acclimatised. And given the pandemic, we thought they might need some assistance with space planning to achieve distancing requirements.

It was incredibly fulfilling to see a project used as you had imagined it. Some things could have gone better, but others exceeded expectations. One design element in particular, a simple but artful set of shelves for drums, changed the whole character of a room; it led to the space being used by the staff for repose. Creating better spaces for the staff was at the core of the project brief so a great feeling to know we helped make that happen.

For a while now, Collective Works have been carrying out their own informal Post Occupancy Evaluations and have actively encouraged occupier engagement. Creating our own POE allowed us to ask questions on topics we deemed most important such as sustainability – data we could use to better inform our future projects.

However, in light of the current climate emergency and indeed the construction industry’s contribution to human-driven global heating, a greater emphasis has been placed on taking better care of our buildings, their energy performance and the wider environment with sustainability being at the forefront of this discourse. In February this year, the Royal Institute of British Architects updated its Plan of Work to include, for the first time, significant post-occupancy actions which gives reference to the United Nation’s development goals.  

As a practice, of course we welcome this change and hope that it encourages an increase in Post Occupancy Evaluations.

For more information on POE visit here.

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