Balancing Design and Usability

All projects will want to achieve beautiful and inspiring spaces. Doing this and ensuring that buildings and landscapes can be used for the purpose intended and do not create difficulties for owners or managers once they have been created is a balancing act.

To help do this it is worth considering the following checklist:

Have all the effects of the designs on running costs and revenue earning been considered?

For example:

Location – has the potential for vandalism been addressed? Is the location ideal for the asset uses that are planned? (e.g. if there is not much passing pedestrian trade will a cafe work?)

Catering for your users/customers – Is it possible for the building/landscape to be used for the purpose it is intended, e.g. Accommodating vulnerable adults or children, accommodating the numbers that are envisaged to use the facilities, providing the right services for proposed users in terms of storage, IT, kitchen facilities, weight loading etc.

“Dead” Space - Is the way the space is designed going to create wasted space that will not earn revenue or be used, but only cost money to heat and light and supervise (e.g. reception areas that are large, wide corridors or lots of “circulation space”)

Rubbish - Is the way the waste from the building is dealt with likely to work and reduce waste collections bills (e.g. good and accessible recycling facilities)

“Future Proofing” - Is the design of the space flexible so that its use can change if necessary?

Planning costs – Has a “Whole Life Costing” been commissioned as part of the detailed design process to help plan for future costs of repairs and maintenance?

Energy and Water - Is the way that the heating, lighting and water use controls likely to keep consumption of energy and water down?

Have all the effects of the designs on what staff or contractors will have to do to keep the space maintained to a high standard been taken into account?

For example:

Is it easy to clean?
Is it easy to secure e.g. is it possible to limit access to parts of the space if necessary or to close them off when not in use?
Is it easy to replace broken parts or essential equipment (e.g. lights, heating boilers, window/shutter locks?)
Are the proposals for access to different parts of the space, operation of the heating, lighting and alarm systems (where applicable) workable given the way the space is to be used?