Science Informed Design for the Built Environment

I became involved with Hume in its early days as an emerging science-informed design practice. In June 2019, I started under the guidance of Natalia Olszewska and Itai Palti as ‘the bridge across the studio and lab’ Project Lead. In 2020-21, as the lab lead, I developed systems to support translational research in Psychology and Neuroscience applied to Spatial Design. Our methodology for Science informed design focused on strategic planning, design, and user research for clients.

Hume was a science-informed architecture and urban design practice backed by our Human Metrics Lab. We employed a unique methodology for working with clients from concept, design, through to post-occupancy. Our work was informed by an in-house group of researchers actively translating and implementing the science of human-space interaction into placemaking and city-making practices.

Google R+D | UX Research for Real Estate & Workplace Services

We worked closely with the Google R+D for Built Environment team to collate scientific insights on renovation of their Workplace Real Estate and Infrastructure Portfolio in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. We identified the most relevant schemas and human metrics pertaining to spaces that foster trust, belonging, collaboration, and creativity

Furthermore, our insights delineated the scope for decentralising the spatial affordances to effectively redesign their approach to using the existing campus infrastructure especially to support their pandemic-related employee wellbeing measures and future strategies.

Google R+D | ResearchOps for Google Flow Zone Prototypes

Following our first project with Google R+D, we further worked with them on the design for ‘Flow-seekers at Google’ and expanded upon their research on organisational productivity. Through extensive research, we articulated a combination of objective and subjective human metrics to understand the impact of their existing spaces on Googlers’ performance - especially in relation to hyperfocus, distraction, flow, contemplation, and creative problem solving.

Furthermore, I applied my experience with Experiment Design from my then ongoing master’s dissertation to strategize for a series of prototypes as 'situated experiments’ to be executed as a part of building renovations across different google offices around the world. These situated experiments were tailored to test the impact of specific and modifiable spatial metrics on Googlers’ performance to collect feedback and fine-tune design on an individual scale.

Edge | Grand Central Berlin | Human+Smart Building Tech Interface

We conducted market research to identify key user archetypes that framed the Human Metrics in alignment with the Business Strategy that our client, Edge Technologies, had been developing for the commercial workplace as well as psychometric tools for measuring Human metrics relevant to them.

The outputs were specific to mapping the experiential journeys in space and time for three main user-archetypes - Deep worker, Multiworker, and Collaborator. The client’s vision for integrating building tech with tools for measuring user-feedback was an excellent opportunity for us to embed feedback loops that connect human metrics and spatial metrics to a truly dynamic building. This project is also the first German building to be pre-certified Gold by by the WELL Building Standard and Platinum by DGNB; It will be delivered as the smartest and most innovative office building in Germany.

Saudi Post & E.Y. | ResearchOps | Design for Innovation Lab

We worked with EY to create a scientific framework for implementing Saudi Post’s workplace innovation strategies.

In Phase I, we conducted an extensive literature review on innovation in logistics and postal services sector which was followed by a focus group and a workshop to identify the key ‘user groups/archetypes’. Outcomes from the first phase included a thoroughly contextualised and culturally-matched set of Human Metrics to implement EY’s innovation plan for key user-groups.

In the second phase, we conducted two rounds of surveys to collect perspectives on the spatial qualities that best represented the C-Suite’s plan as well as the future aspirations of Saudi Post employees. We presented our findings through a series of temporal and spatial phenomena-maps with insights for spatial planning to facilitate flow, collaboration, and sense of community for the archetypes as well as the Saudi Post as an organisation.

Landsec + Gensler | Workplace Redesign | Portland House, London

We worked with Landsec and Gensler to bring a science-informed approach to design at Portland House, a large refurbishment of a landmark tower in central London.

Our insights related to supporting creativity, collaboration and community building are informing the design of the project's shared spaces. Together with the project team we created environments that respond to the changing needs of tenants and visitors by introducing feedback loops that continually adapt spaces over time to improve the user experience.

HKS Architects | Design for Neurogenesis & Healthy Ageing

Under Natalia Olszewska’s guidance, I conducted extensive research on the Neuroscientific aspects of ageing and the related cognitive decline. Our work focussed on developing the correspondence between enriched environments and memory, creativity, positivity, and engagement to foster insights for healthy ageing through placemaking and science-informed design.

The research was presented at ANFA Conference 2020, at Environments for Ageing Expo and Conference 2021 as well as published on HKS’ website . It has also been developed into an interactive workbook that served as a springboard for design thinking driven problem solving executed as a workshop for architects from HKS. Currently, the second version of the workbook is being designed by HKS for publication with inferences and insights from the workshop.

citiesRISE | Strategy for Mental Health Friendly Cities

We conducted a 3-days’ long SiD‘ workshop in Nairobi with 30 experts from urban innovation, healthcare, governance, and advocacy sectors working at citiesRISE. It expanded our scope for engaging with and channelising the expertise of a multidisciplinary pool of participants as well as our methodology for synthesising and streamlining their ideas through performance measures.

We assisted the clients in formulating a framework for Mental Health Friendly cities and creating an implementation strategy for their participating cities. Our main objective was to identify system metrics and human metrics to facilitate their four key paradigm shifts both at global and hyper local levels.

We also submitted a comprehensive report summarising our findings from the workshop.

PLL Action Network | Ecosystem for Playful Learning

Following Urban Thinkscapes, Playful Learning Landscape Action Network reached out to Hume for the second stage of their mission - to develop ‘Playful Learning Guide for Designers’.

As the Lab Lead, I was responsible for creating the roadmap for translation of The Playbook into a series of interactive educational content - short videos, focus group guide, and workshop activities. Alongside supervising the creative production of supporting content, I also designed the UX of the digital platform, ‘Playful Learning Ecosystem’. We conducted extensive qualitative research to identify key needs, opportunities, challenges, and performance measures for developing a successful Ecosystem.

The ecosystem will be open to public (soon) to create community-specific insights, frameworks for typology and program-specific case studies, project narratives, and market research proposals to incubate and accelerate projects featuring design interventions for playful learning.

With Shashwath, I also presented a few examples of low-cost and sustainable design interventions at their virtual conference - here.

'SenSpace' - Urban Haven | New York City

Through a combination of market research and urban-demographic research, we created a Design Intent Pitch for a truly unique multisensory and multifunctional space for individual and social wellbeing and restoration - Senspace; a project initiated by Liana Scobie.

This new typology of built-space is purely driven by the need for physical and mental respite in the hustle-wired, bustling urban lives to optimally relax, reflect, and revive.

Senspace generates personal balance and heightened connection with others by utilizing intentional, passive interventions that ultimately help us feel and do better.

Cox Communications | Design 4 Social Connection | San Diego

The research considered multiple aspects of ‘lack of ‘social connectedness in the San Diego area’, starting from the initial market research and questions defined by the clients, 180LA & Cox. We delved deeper into social, cultural, geographic factors contributing to this problem to identify opportunities for design solutions.

The project was framed by three Macro themes - Social contract, Social Connectedness, and a Sense of Belonging. These served as Human Metrics in the process of developing urban interventions using dialogues, serendipity, and play as elements.

We produced 8 replicable, scalable, and cost-effective design interventions to foster social connection in transit nodes and hubs in San Diego.

Bernard Van Leer Foundation | Family Friendly Cities Report

A multimedia synthesis of discussions and findings from Conscious Cities Festival 2019, Family Friendly Cities Day. Some of the questions addressed:

  • How do communities approach family health?

  • What can cities do to support families?

  • How does decision making in governance affect families?

  • How can we reimagine the potential of a multi-stakeholder approach to supporting families?

  • How can we mindfully apply the science of child development?

  • What are the built environment determinants of family-friendly cities?

Associations of Children's Museum x Centre on the Developing Child, Harvard University | Design for Curiosity & Learning

Supporting children’s museums as people-centered environments from a Science-Informed approach to designing playful and exploratory learning environments.

I was involved in curating the design guidelines based on the insights collected from the webinar, post-webinar survey, and the workshop.

Capita Think Tank | Series of Essays | 'It Takes A Village'

As a part of my senior fellowship at Capita this year, I will work on a collaborative thought-leadership project that is geared to unraveling the cascading effects of ecological and cultural phenomena that shape healthy child development.

Through a series of writings, we will explore the potential of built space to impact wellbeing and resilience in children as individuals as well as their connection with families, teachers, community, and society.

David | Ongoing Independent Exploration

I’ve been involved in the User Experience Research and Design and supporting Interface Design for David. I have also supported the ideation and design of research questions for the foundational work on knowledge graphs, data analyses, and frameworks for Machine Learning to be used in this application.

David is a multifunctional platform for Science-Informed Design that facilitates the uptake of scientific knowledge into any design process.