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Delivery of occupant satisfaction in the House of Commons, 1950-2019

Schoenefeldt, Henrik (2020) Delivery of occupant satisfaction in the House of Commons, 1950-2019. Buildings & Cities, 1 (1). pp. 141-163. E-ISSN 2632-6655. (doi:10.5334/bc.57) (KAR id:81157)

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Abstract: The debating chamber of the House of Commons was rebuilt and completed in 1950. It has acted as a learning laboratory for 70 years for occupant satisfaction. Although trials and experiments were undertaken to assess and refine its design empirically, under real-life conditions it did not perform as the design consultants had envisaged. The present study of its history between 1950 and 1954 illustrates that its performance was scrutinized by users, became the subject of scientific investigations, and underwent physical and operational changes. These critical engagements with performance in use are ongoing. Archival research and interviews are also presented covering 1995 - 2019. This reveals the socio-technical nature of day-to-day operational procedures, involving collaboration between users and staff as well as between technical and non-technical staff. This process enabled a strong engagement with technical, environmental and human aspects of performance. This not only yielding insights into the practical reality of building operation, but also illustrated a process of continual learning and active stewardship. Practice Relevance: The post-occupancy history of the House of Commons provides a unique case study on continual institutional learning about environmental control in public buildings. It sheds critical light on the nature of facilities management (FM) as a practice, and also challenges the traditional boundaries drawn between those responsible for the design, post-occupancy evaluation and routine operation of buildings. FM could not be confined to the technological operations administered by technical staff, but depended on collaboration with occupants and non-technical staff, enabling the integration of social and technological processes. Much understanding was based on ephemeral knowledge that staff had acquired through social interactions and practical experience. This paper illustrates how such practical knowledge of performance was acquired, retained and utilised in FM practice. This expanded approach is also critical for design consultants to gain more appropriate knowledge about the actual use and performance of buildings.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.5334/bc.57
Uncontrolled keywords: parliament, house of commons, actor-network theory, organisational learning, outcomes-based design
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
Government of the United Kingdom (
Depositing User: Henrik Schoenefeldt
Date Deposited: 08 May 2020 15:22 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Schoenefeldt, Henrik.

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