Use of the Built Environment

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Some of the ISC’s early projects focused on the Built Environment. Two key projects under this topic were:

Space for Innovation (2004-5)

S41 was a 36 month project, led by David Gann, to investigate the way spatial arrangements affect innovative performance. It developed a new knowledge about the impact of different built environments on innovation processes and the reasons why some environments are more conducive to innovation than others. It provided a method of assessing which spatial layouts suit what type of innovation activities and therefore assist firms in managing innovation processes more effectively. It also aimed to assist design, engineering and construction firms in the production of new research laboratories, design centres and knowledge management spaces. The project began in 2004 and also involved contributions by Dot Griffiths and Ritsuko Ozaki.

Managing Knowledge Spaces (MKS)

MKS investigated knowledge management practices in dispersed and co-located team working. Managers in industry had no framework showing the effects of different spatial arrangements on project teams. The virtual team model claims that spatially dispersed individuals can work together effectively, through using the expanding capabilities of network technology. By contrast, recent work on knowledge management increasingly stresses the importance of co-location for a shared context through which team members can communicate.

Managers designing teams need to better understand the effects of spatial decisions on how teams manage knowledge and the consequences for project performance. The research involved in-depth case studies of different design teams from a variety of organisation across range of industrial sectors: Ove Arup, Adtranz, CAE Invertron, DERA, Montgomery Watson and Runtime Collective. One output from the project is a new web tool to support management of knowledge on projects, which has been tested and piloted. The project was funded by the EPSRC’s Learning Across Business Sectors programme and finished in February 2004. It was carried out in collaboration with the University of Brighton  and Ammon Salter led the Imperial portion of the project.

Another strand of research was on user needs and perceptions of housing space. This work was carried out by Ritsuko Ozaki, who was assisted by another researcher from early 2004. Dr. Ozaki’s time during the period 2003-2006 was being funded by the Sunley Foundation. The research explored the way cultural values and norms are reflected in house forms and the use of domestic space. Of particular interest was the way new trends are challenging traditional house designs and ideals. The project used theories and methods from sociology (concepts of consumption and lifestyles) and social psychology (theories of material possession and identity). An initial focus for the research was the cultural values and experience of those who chose to live in urban loft apartments, using the concept of physical/spatial, socio-cultural and psychological ‘boundaries’.

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