More on design thinking

6 November 2023

Following on from my recent Interoperability, what is it good for? post, I was reminded of Design, Unleased: Workplaces. A brand new world. Human-centred design – all or nothing paper (2020) from Hoare Lea by Michelle Wang (now at Deloitte) and Stephen Wreford (now at HBT digital advisory). It’s still the closest to the kind of design thinking I have been posting about that I have seen, and particularly how that helps plug the gap between the evolution of smart buildings from the bottom-up and top-down approaches I mentioned in my previous post.

That’s partly about thinking about not just what but who that designing is for, but also how they could see the post-pandemic blurring of lines between smart buildings and smart offices given back to office occupancy issues. Interestingly, you can see the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) WELL building standard informing the Human-centred workplace diagram on the left above from a developer’s perspective.

But it was the ladder-like progression or evolution of smart building from smart enabled to genius that caught my attention:

I saw something similar presented earlier this year by James Thomas at SES Engineering as part of a retrofit-themed round table at FootPrint+. The terminology he used for similar levels were SMART Ready, SMART, Ultra SMART and Intelligent.

In his diagram, smart ready is the foundation of a smart building, smart is the platforms and applications that deliver function and ultra smart is the services provided by their FM business.

What interests me is whether there is some consensus about some minimum viable technical foundation at the that smart readiness, and particularly when refritting existing assets, i.e. so that minimum viable technical foundation can be built upon/evolved and scaled. And that minimum viable technical foundation not just being based on some technology-first bottom-up ideas about interoperability issues but the joining of those dots to the more top down (human-centred) design thinking presented in the Hoare Lea paper.

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