Attitudes to building services component reuse in the UK healthcare sector

Many organisations are responding to the diminishing stability of their operating environments by developing flexible methods of performing their core function. This creates demand for flexible supporting building space. While the architectural problems of providing such space have been solved for many years, its servicing remains problematic. This difficulty is manifested in the rising cost of services alterations necessitated when spaces are changed in use. The current inflexibility of services installation construction has prompted a study of reusable building services components. It is anticipated that this approach will increase services installation adaptability by reducing alteration costs. Focusing on the UK National Health Service, this paper presents a survey of trends in organisational function, their estate implications and the extent to which facilities managers can control or plan estate responses to frequent core function revision. Existing services component reuse practices are reviewed and component and process attributes conducive to disassembly and refurbishment are identified. It is concluded that, while reusable services components will achieve the required services installation adaptability, their technical feasibility and economic viability remain to be determined.