Only three per cent of architects carry out post-occupation evaluations (POE) on all their housing projects, according to a new AJ poll
Of the nearly 200 practitioners, technologists and part-qualified architects questioned as part of a wide-ranging survey of the housing sector, more than a quarter (26.5 per cent) said they never went back to assess their completed residential schemes.
A further 40 per cent admitted they were not currently carrying out post-occupancy investigations but were ‘pressing their clients to do it’.
Roger Hawkins, partner at Hawkins\Brown, said the housing sector was still playing catch-up with other areas of the construction industry: ‘Post-occupation evaluation has been standard practice in the higher education sector for years.
‘It allows for collaboration and an understanding of how to improve and do some things differently next time around.
‘The housing sector would do well to learn from this approach.’
According to Jestico + Whiles’ director Heinz Richardson, the feedback loop for completed projects is woefully inadequate for today’s climate: ‘The core issue is that most clients are unwilling to pay for it unless they are owner occupiers or responsible for longer term building maintenance
‘For it to be effective it requires a considerable time commitment. The answer is to ensure, at minimum, that any building which receives funding from the public purse must involve post occupancy research which should be disseminated so that valuable lessons can be learnt.’
Glasgow-based Collective Architecture’s Lizzie Smith said that when it comes to post-occupancy work, housing associations had a better record than the private sector, adding: ‘It’s definitely something which should be looked at more. It is an opportunity to improve and get to the core of what people are looking for.
‘It could be something which we may think is quite small or insignificant, but can be vitally important to a person living in their property - a wardrobe door or a height or a window - but it can have a huge impact on a client’s wellbeing.’
However Nick Johnson, former deputy chief executive of Urban Splash, said: ‘A lot of developers do carry out this wor. If architects were to start doing it it might result in survey fatigue from the occupiers.
‘The real question is whose voice does the architect listen to? The answer is who’s paying the bill. Quite how more detailed research would empower them, I’m not too sure.’
Further results from the AJ’s housing design survey will be released over the coming weeks.