Much of this book is about a comparison of subjective qualitative evaluation and evidence-based quantitative research. There have been several recent attempts to develop systems to give scientific credence to artistic concepts, and it seems that for the time being at least progress in this field is dependent on providing an economic justification for all design processes. We will look later at the appraisal processes to put applications for lottery funds into a priority list and the Higher Education Funding Council is also trying to design evaluation systems to judge the quality of design in our education buildings.
Pilot studies have been carried out by CABE to formulate design quality tools. The design quality indicators devised to evaluate quality have also been referred to in earlier chapters.
The key issue that emerges from an examination of these systems is that comparisons are being made between the expectations set out in the brief for a building and then compared with the results found in a post-evaluation study. However, the components of the brief are often very limited and it is therefore difficult to establish sufficiently worthwhile tests to measure the outputs from the finished building. This leads to the suggestion that the quality of the brief needs to be raised.
A number of approaches attempting to quantify the qualitative aspects of a design use an arithmetical approach. Essential, they are systems of point scoring against a series of scales judging performance. This leads to problems of assessment (MacNaughton, 1996) and the dangers and difficulties of assuming sliding scales of assessment which adopt a smooth or consistent gradient. More sophisticated models are required with more intensive research committed to this field.
There is undoubtedly very limited research either completed or underway, in this broad field and more sophisticated briefing techniques will not appear overnight. We should be less apprehensive about linking the philosophical concepts of complementary medicine with mainstream professional methods. Exploration of the holistic approaches to alternative medicine should be looked at in parallel with scientifically founded evidence produced from control experiments of environmental factors. The Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital (see the case studies) is a good example of a recent building designed within the budgetary constraints of the NHS system and yet seeking out new ways to interpret a pleasing environment. It is often frustrating for designers who are constrained by a system that seems unable to see beyond the scientific parameters of progress based on experimental results.
Newspapers and magazines are full of articles about lifestyle: about how to remove stress from the workplace -about well-balanced diets - about 'making over' interior spaces. There is a new-found enthusiasm to control and influence our individual lives. The Prince of Wales, writing in The Times on 30 December 2000 says 'we should be mindful that clinically controlled trials alone are not the only prerequisites to apply a health care intervention. Consumer based surveys can explore why people choose complementary and alterna tive medicine and tease out the therapeutic powers of belief and trust.' With the medical profession under great pressure from society to become more responsive to consumer demands another article in The Times (19 January 2001) starts from the premise that health is more fundamental to happiness, well-being and prosperity than anything else. Surely this is the wrong way around? Good health is likely to result from happiness, well-being and prosperity and it is our failure to understand the historic values of a holistic lifestyle that has led us into the trap which assumes that a technical solution lies behind every medical disorder. Doctors have exploited the opportunity to let us believe they have the key to solve all medical problems and are the last of the professions to have their authority challenged: and they don't like finding that consumerism - patient power - is knocking on their door.
We should turn our attention to the quality of the environment; to the design of the places where we live and work and the therapeutic advantages that flow from the best examples. Doctors need to widen their horizons and understand the benefits that the humanities can add to our health. Science adds to our knowledge but philosophy and the arts make life worth living.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.