UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Simone Bonavia

Agile Architecture: how the built environment can learn from how it is used

People spend a large portion of time indoors and it is known that the physical environment influences users’ comfort, behaviour, health and wellbeing. Lack of occupant satisfaction in buildings indicates that users’ needs are not accurately predicted during the design stage.

The assessment of building in use allows an understanding of the differences between design intent and performance in practice, the result of which can be a means to adaptable architecture and evidence-based design. Post-occupancy evaluation (POE) has been on the agenda both academically and in the construction industry for over 40 years, however progress in practice has been very slow. Factors include usability of POE output in practice, the limited monitoring time and lack of focus on improvement of the building being monitored. 

Currently there is increased recognition from the UK government and professional bodies for the practice of learning from what is being build. In parallel, the internet of things (IoT) allows the integration of heterogeneous building systems and people movement tracking, providing exciting opportunities for continual assessment on the way buildings are used and to inform changes. While the collection of connected sensor data is increasing rapidly, scientific research using this methodology is still limited.

The research will thus focus on how connected sensor data, combined with user feedback can be used to understand how users interact with buildings and to inform building design and operation that is adaptable to the users’ needs. It aspires to be a research whose outcomes can be integrated into architectural and lighting design practice.