When I speak to universities, one of their biggest headaches is often how they engage their stakeholders in new developments. With all of the different viewpoints and sometimes conflicting priorities of students, lecturers, researchers, estate managers and community users, how can they make sure one building meets everyone’s requirements?
For me, it boils down to creating a building where everyone feels good, where the space gives end users what they need both psychologically and physiologically. It’s about creating buildings that actively improve the wellbeing of the people who use them. And we simply can’t do this without excellent stakeholder engagement from the outset of a project.
At Atkins we’ve developed a tool – WellbriefingTM – that helps universities determine what the priorities of their building users are in terms of their health and wellbeing.
The stakeholder engagement process starts with us speaking to all of the end users of the building about what they need from the space to work healthily and productively. These discussions happen both on and offline, with an interactive web based survey used to capture views from as many people as possible, and supplemented by drop in sessions to capture qualitative data and facilitate more in depth conversations.
All of this data is converted into a brief for the design of the new building, with the users’ wellbeing preferences mapped against various design criteria to determine the effectiveness of the design proposals. This removes the guess work of what people might need from a building, and ensures that everyone’s voice and individual priorities are heard from the very beginning of the project.
And our engagement with stakeholders doesn’t stop there. It continues throughout the project, with regular meetings with user groups to check in continuously that the building design is meeting their needs. Engagement also continues after the building is complete, with Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) to determine if the space really is having a positive impact on users’ wellbeing, and what modifications can be made if that’s not the case.
For me, stakeholder engagement is about ensuring that people are at the heart of design decisions. With Wellbriefing, we can be sure that their wellbeing is as well.