The paper argues for the development of usability concepts, methodologies and tools, in considering the effects of the built environment from a user, organisational and community perspective, in order to have a positive influence on social outcomes. Since it was formed over ten years ago, the CIB W111 on Usability has been exploring concepts, methods and tools, developed in the evaluation of all kinds of consumer products, applied to the built environment. In the most recent phase of this work, conducted over the past three years, an international network of partners has collaborated to focus on the usability of learning environments achieving their objectives through a series of case studies and associated workshops. The work has sought to identify and evaluate the ways in which users (and other stakeholders) in projects are involved in decision making about building use and the methods and tools they used to understand, as well as to design and manage the relationship between activities and places. The paper describes and reviews the development of the field of research on usability. It concludes that the action and use of facilities is strongly related to experiences of the users and thus their possibility and will to perform. People create their own places in the facilities created by professionals and there has to be an approach that opens up for questions like what use and why do an organisation want a specific solution. If professionals and laymen could meet, understand and define the emerging properties of a workplace, they could better manage and design the facilities for improved social outcomes. Interpretation and analysis of the built environment (and support services) based on how it is socially constructed will enable integration of organisational use and the facilities provided to arrive at an understanding of usability. The concept of usability brings the organisational space to the fore and by doing so supports the actions needed. The paper concludes that usability will not be fully understood without understanding the social constructs of the users – the organisational ecology of narratives or constructs.
Proceedings of the 19th Cib World Building Congress 2013: Construction and Society, 2013
Usability; Organisational ecology; Facilities management; Social outcomes
Main Research Area:
19th CIB World Building Congress, 2013
International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB)