Four speakers, over forty attendees: on Tuesday 15th May 2018, for the sixth year running, NHA held an event during Green Sky Thinking week. Green Sky Thinking showcases sustainable thinking and projects through a week of events held across London; and this year the theme was ‘People First’.
Entitled ‘People First or Technology First?’ our event examined the way in which smart technology will shape our buildings and cities.
Philippa Gill from Verdextra kicked off the evening with a provocative lecture putting individual wellbeing at the forefront of future building design. Individual and public health concerns are at the centre of the next trillion dollar industry – Wellness – and are generating a sea change in workplace design. Smart technology, which democratises data, will both enable and enforce that sea change. Is the air quality in this meeting room good enough? My wrist watch will tell me…
Nicholas Hare Architects’ partner James Eades continued with a quick introduction to NHA’s competition winning proposal for Old Street roundabout. Whilst cycling and cycle-parking are at the heart of the scheme, it is smart technology that will really help cyclists and the broader public engage with this new urban park. Mike Bedford from Hoare Lea outlined the technology behind Old Street Park’s proposals before giving us a glimpse of how technology and data will completely change the way we interact with and design our buildings, just as it is changing the way we think and interact with one other.
Huge amounts of data – on wellness, energy and behaviour – is now collected and this data needs servicing. Mike argued that understanding a building’s data strategy will be key to its success. This needs to be established at the briefing stage and will continue throughout the life of the building. It won’t be architects and project managers who will lead building project teams, but data scientists, user experience designers and software architects.
James Hepburn from BDP brought us back to flat earth, highlighting the dangers of data overload. At BDP’s offices, they map occupancy by using WIFI connected to people’s phones. It’s pretty but is it useful? You can shortcut lengthy post occupancy evaluation processes by using Apps with real-time feedback. But if you ask the wrong questions, you’ll get the wrong answers. Building Management Systems are typically a value-engineered compromise far from the original intent and utterly incomprehensible to all. James argued that we should focus on physical, not virtual user interaction – for example by allowing users to open windows. And we must keep things simple, always asking: “do we really need this?”