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Research calls for people to be placed at the centre of social housing design

21 January 2021 @TeessideUni


A Teesside University research project has yielded positive results which recommends that residents’ needs are placed at the centre of future social housing design and manufacture.

The innovative project, funded by the UK Economic & Social Research Council, aimed to spearhead a step-change in social housing by making homes more human centric, affordable and efficient.

Led by Professor Nashwan Dawood, Associate Dean (Research & Innovation) in Teesside University’s School of Computing, Engineering & Design Technologies and in collaboration with Energy Catapult, based in Birmingham, and Thirteen Group social housing provider, the researchers worked to deliver design and energy efficient solutions for people in social housing.

“Social-housing tenants have effectively very limited or no choice regarding the quality and requirements of the houses they live in,” explained Professor Dawood.

“This has led to users living in social housing not fit for purpose. In this context, the objective of this research is to introduce and demonstrate how user experience (UX) can be incorporated explicitly in social housing design with the view to address the well-being and improve user experience of social housing occupants.”

As part of the 12 month, £100,000 project, the team, which also involved the University’s Professor Paul Van Schaik, Dr Sergio Rodriguez, Dr Huda Dawood, Dr Joao Patacs, Atif Hafeez and a host of Architect practices (Logic, Pollard Thomas Edwards and JDKK) , delivered a three tiered recommended approach to make improvements, focussing on user experience values, value creators and design attributes.

Our work provides a promising alternative to a deficit approach that focuses on fixing design problems rather than addressing residents’ needs.

Professor Dawood

Professor Dawood added: “The choices that are made for design attributes influence building performance. In turn, the value creators influence user experience. Several methods were used, including interviews with occupiers, the conduction of an industry workshop, and the development of online surveys with social-housing occupants, architects, and social-housing providers. The results from these have led us to our recommendations for future social housing design matix that can be adopted for social housing providers to implement.

“Our approach has the potential to promote the fulfilment of universal human needs, such as competence, relatedness, and autonomy. This way, our work provides a promising alternative to a deficit approach that focuses on fixing design problems rather than addressing residents’ needs.”

This research was part of the transforming construction network plus (TCN+) initiative in the UK which aims to develop a fit-for-purpose construction industry, in light of the digitisation, technological, and upskilling challenges currently faced. The outputs of the research project are being taken up by Logic Architect under GAP (Growth Association Partnership) in collaboration with Teesside University.