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Winning research confirms link between built environment & wellbeing

At Ecobuild last week, BRE and UBM Built Environment announced the winners of the research paper competition called to investigate the intrinsic link between buildings and the wellbeing of those who occupy them.

The competition was held to bring together and showcase current research and understanding of the subject, as part of a new research programme delivered in partnership by BRE and publishers UBM Built Environment. A panel of independent experts reviewed entries submitted by construction experts and research professionals from across the built environment and selected the best papers for domestic and non-domestic buildings

Winner of the best non-domestic paper category was Dr Lesley McIntyre, research assistant at Dundee University, for her case study on the Building Interactions Toolkit (BIT-Kit)*: a method uncovering the impact buildings have on people.

BIT-Kit uses evidence gathered through observation and building interaction data to assess the impact of buildings on those with visual impairment. Focusing on human interaction with architectural elements such as stairs, doors, car parks and corridors, the paper investigates way-finding in a public building and the effects that specific design elements have on enabling and disabling building users.

“The built environment is failing to support people who have a form of visual impairment and the task of way-finding in non-domestic buildings is a particular problem,” says McIntyre in her paper. “There is a scarcity of evidence for architects to fully understand the impact a building has on these users.”

The best domestic paper prize was presented to joint winners Tim Dixon, professor of sustainable futures in the built environment at the University of Reading, and Saffron Woodcraft, founding director of Social Life. Their submission** covered their work on Creating strong communities: measuring social sustainability in new housing developments.

The paper outlines a social sustainability measurement framework developed in a joint project between the University of Reading and place-making expert Social Life on behalf of the Berkeley Group. The framework was designed to help the company understand and measure the social sustainability of its developments.

“Social sustainability brings together a number of different ideas about wellbeing, social needs and the sustainability of communities,” explains Dixon. “This work acknowledges that the practical and operational aspects of social sustainability are not clearly defined or well integrated in the policy and practice of urban planning and housing.”

Lesley McIntyre and Tim Dixon joined BRE group research director, Deborah Pullen, at Ecobuild on 4 March 2014 and presented their papers during the Designing for Wellbeing seminar in the Design theatre. The winning papers are available below.

*Lesley McIntyre BITKit Building 4 Change

**Tim Dixon BRE_UBM Competition TD_SW


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