The Bartlett School of Architecture


Knowledge Transfer Partnership: Big Data in the Office

The project, run between UCL and Spacelab aims to create a decision-making tool for clients to better manage space usage in commercial buildings.

The goal of the two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project ‘Big Data in the Office’ is to synthesize and digitise building, organisational and spatial data collected in workplace consultancy projects.

With comparable and consistent data in one single database, information on office buildings and their occupation can be analysed, streamlined and benchmarked to generate useful links between data sets, providing more refined design solution to Spacelab’s clients. The project also aims to develop new software applications that will enable Spacelab to capture data about workplace design and space usage quickly and accurately.

The KTP will result in the standardisation of data regarding spatial configuration and usage behaviours in the workplace on a larger scale than has previously been available in the sector. Access to such large scale samples or ‘Big Data’ enables the academic team at UCL to establish a significant and reliable link between productivity and space beyond single cases and test hypothesis and build new theories on the relationship between space and social output.

As a collaboration between the Space Syntax Laboratory at the Bartlett and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis’ (CASA), the KTP will provide the opportunity to achieve a step-change in the understanding of space and the social, organisational and economic performance of buildings together with innovative data visualisation techniques and mobile applications in the built environment.


The Knowledge Transfer Partnership project ‘Big Data in the Office’ is a collaboration between Spacelab, an architectural practice based in London Shoreditch and two different departments at UCL: the Space Syntax Laboratory at The Bartlett and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA).

The project is led by Dr Kerstin Sailer (Space Syntax Laboratory) and Dr Andy Hudson-Smith (CASA), and is supported by Tasos Varoudis (Space Syntax Laboratory) and Dr Martin Austwick (CASA). At Spacelab, the project is managed by Andrew Budgen and Ros Pomeroy. The KTP office at UCL Advances is supporting the project administratively.

Petros Koutsolampros is working as the Associate on the project.

The project is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board and Spacelab. 


Initial results from the project were presented at the Workshop ‘Interaction and Architectural Space’ at the ACM CHI 2014 Conference on Computer-Human Interaction in Toronto in May 2014:

  • Koutsolampros, P., Varoudis, T., Austwick, M., Hudson-Smith, A. & Sailer, K. (2014). Measuring Interaction in Workspaces – Methods, Technologies and Systems. Paper presented at Workshop ‘Interaction and Architectural Space’, CHI 2014, Toronto, 26 April – 1 May 2014
  • A comparative analysis of workplaces using the benchmarks on spatial configuration and the structure of interaction networks in organisations was presented at the 1st European Conference on Social Networks EUSN:
  • Sailer, K. (2014). Team Cohesion and Embedding – A Comparative Analysis of Spatial and Organisational Parameters (http://www.slideshare.net/kerstinsailer/spatial-and-organisatinonal-team...). Paper presented at 1st European Conference on Social Networks EUSN, Barcelona, 1-4 July 2014 

Through its direct link to live projects and the workplace consultancy practice of Spacelab, the KTP ‘Big Data in the Office’ is an ideal test bed for the application of knowledge and the generation of new insights.

Four main pathways to impact can be identified:

  • Firstly, it has a direct impact on the way workspace design is delivered to the clients of Spacelab through a better understanding of important metrics of how office space shapes organisational output.
  • Secondly, the large datasets collected by Spacelab in their practice of evidence-based design, which are synthesized into a unique database in this project allow the testing of hypothesis and the building of theories, hence it impacts the academic community. It is planned to disseminate the newly generated knowledge through participation in conferences and publication of papers.
  • Thirdly, software applications developed by the KTP, which were intended to automate and speed up data collection at Spacelab are also used by Master’s students at UCL, highlighting an impact on teaching and learning.
  • Last but not least, the wider workplace consultancy community as well as communities interested in sensing technologies, visualisation and mobile applications benefit from events and knowledge sharing practices in association with the KTP.
big data spatial analysis