Improving the design process for adaptability: linking feedback and architectural values

Designing for adaptability intuitively requires an understanding of how buildings tend to change over time. This, in turn, suggests that architects could learn from and accumulate knowledge as their buildings evolve and change over time. On the other hand, the ways architects learn through conventional forms of feedback are not conducive to them learning about the effectiveness of their designs in use. For example, they tend to focus on the visual, whereas most feedback is provided in the form of check boxes and reports. Current feedback techniques are also heavily focused on performance metrics captured at one point in time. In this paper it is argued that feedback focused on how buildings are adapted over time should be integrated as part of the design process, informing architects of what has or hasn't worked, and what could be improved. The research addresses the need for a technique that will inspire architects to utilise feedback more effectively. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven UK architects in order to better understand how feedback informs their design decisions and whether more appropriate methods could be devised to improve the design process for adaptability. The analysis reveals that current feedback mechanisms are not sufficient for capturing feedback for adaptability, nor do they present the material in a format that fits into an architects' current mode of operation. The data suggests that architects are interested in learning about how buildings can accommodate change and that a tool that presents the captured lessons of past projects in a visual way, could improve the utilisation of this feedback.