When a specific project/asset is being developed we come in at pre-planning, pre-development or pre-occupancy to perform a User Experience risk assessment.

Our framework and systems analyse the user-task-space relationship. This helps determine where in current plans there are risks to the humans natural enjoyment and experience of a place. It then identifies opportunities to improve desired human outcomes and the project managers effectiveness.

We combine an area assessment alongside a human assessment to gain a wider sense of the situation before analysing the users of a space from a task perspective.

Our job is to add a sophisticated layer of intelligence to help multi-disciplinary teams make and evidenced based decisions.

Our outputs are focused at a holistic series of solutions to improve the experience of users. Therefore, our outputs look at the orchestration of construction, architecture, design, management, culture and technology.

 

 

A UX Risk Assessment is produced via a 3 Stage approach

 

OUTPUTS

  • SMARTER AMENITY CURATION
  • FUTURE PROOF PROJECTS
  • INCREASE HEALTH, WELLBEING AND PRODUCTIVITY
  • AVOID COSTLY CHANGES POST OCCUPANCY
  • INCREASE SATISFACTION RATINGS
  • USE BESPOKE WRITTEN CONTENT FOR USER-ENGAGEMENT
  • INCREASE CHANCES OF SUSTAINABLE USE
  • DE-RISK COMPLEX PROJECTS AGAINST REDUNDANCY
 

1. MACRO INFLUENCERS

How we perceive a specific event (action, interaction, object) depends on what cognitive neuroscience refers to as top down factors, such as past experiences, goals or expectations.

These factors are used to guide our cognitive processing and will influence how we perceive an experience.

For example, if a person has had a long commute in a packed train, this factor will influence their perception and experiences of future interactions. They might perceive the entrance to a building as too loud or confusing depending if that journey made them feel stressed or tired. They might expect to enter a more calming space than a person who has had relatively less stressful journey.

It is crucial to understand how these factors will alter perception and expectation of building elements.

As ignoring or not being aware that perception is not linear can lead to unintended human consequences. In stage 1 we perform an area assessment alongside the human assessment to frame stage 2.


2. COGNITIVE OVERVIEW

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An example of cognitive type would be a “learner” someone whose main tasks for the work day require reading, learning new information, communicating etc.

The “learner” can be gender agnostic, any age group, or social background.

A cognitive type provides a better backdrop for guidelines as there are biological and cognitive baselines associated to tasks. There is need to have a baseline from the human perspective to create a starting point for comparisons.

We are proposing the use of biological and/or cognitive elements of the human condition as baselines due to their low variance levels. These baselines are expressed in terms of tasks or activities. For instance, the activity of sleep proposes little variance in terms of biological and physical requirements to achieve it (everyone needs levels of darkness, to lay flat, low stimulation, low stress, etc). A sample point of enquiry using sleep could be "does long term exposure to night time light pollution affect sleep/wake cycles in children?"


3. RISK ASSESSMENT & MITIGATION SCHEDULE

A checklist to be used by all members of a development team to ensure risks are mitigated and avoided early. It's process runs in 7 stages

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  • Comfort Risk: Building on well researched and established comforts such as Thermal conditions and Spatial Variety.
  • Description: The likely risk/unintended consequence.
  • Cause: Reason
  • The likely Spatial & Human effect: Identifying how this affects the human, perhaps from an irritation issue, and how this affects the use of space, such as dwell/retention/loss of orientation.
  • Probability of Occurrence: Rated from 1-5.
  • Impact Risk: Rated from 1-5.
  • Mitigation Technique: The general rule is that mitigations/recommendations are made in line with the outputs required by the Client. Therefore, we would not make construction related mitigations when a project is near completion. All mitigations and recommendations are informed by existing spatial standards and codes such as BREAAM, LEED, HSE, WELL and augmented according to the bespoke research performed. There are cases where our research differs to that of a standard.

This section provides a series of achievable action points for project managers to guide multi-disciplinary teams. It helps ensure that all members are coordinated in helping raise the user experience.


 

RECENT PROJECTS

 

PRE-PLANNING

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UCL EAST

(RIBA Stage 1)

Centric supported the lead architects (Stanton Williams) on the UCL East campus.

Assessing Stage 1-2 design against a working thesis that looked into academia and students in 2025. Aiming to identify risks that would turn-off students from valuing the building as a "chapel of education".

Outputs focused on

Changing atrium to include more intimate spaces

Changing ratio of private-collaboration space

 

Written content covered how learning is evolving with technology and the cognitive tasks most prevalent in 21st century academia.

Centric were brought into the project by University College London to work alongside lead architects Stanton Williams. The project had outline planning approval and the “baggy suit” had been shaped and loosely designed. The architects were about to develop the brief from Stage 1 into Stages 2 and 3. Following a 1.5hr workshop we identified areas of influence which were physically focused on the outdoor space, atrium, and communal spaces. There were 3 stages to the work performed

  • Stage1:From a human perspective the question was to better identify the purpose of an education space in 2025. Starting the process we did a meta-analysis of humanities and sociological research to understand changes in young people who will be the likely occupiers. From a generational perspective these are the latter Generation Y group as well as the early Generation Alpha. Following that we performed a built assessment to understand what physical elements of their lives are likely to have an effect on their biology, cognition and expectations of this built environment.
  • Stage2:Examine the Cognitive Type using the built environment. This was a process of taking stage 1 into account to understand the cognitive processes associated with being a student. These included but not limited to functions such as acquiring new information, collaborating and retention of information. Analysing the work processes flow against our historical database of biological and cognitive studies helps shape stage 3.
  • Stage3:Assess the relationship in totality and uncover where from the original plans there are potential risks that need to be accommodated in the programming and design of the building. Outline advice was given which was supported by a risk assessment document.

PRE-DEVELOPMENT

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LENDLEASE

(RIBA Stage 2-3)

Centric supported the Workplace & Development Management Team.

Assessing the existing plans for the 4 x “third spaces” through our framework we were focused on matching user to space better.

Outputs focused on

Articulating Coworking Space offer,

Advising on curation of the Active Lobbies, Outdoor Workspaces and Public Realm.

 

Written content articulated science behind “inspiration” and how modern urban life impedes it. This has become invaluable marketing material in humanising IQL.

Centric were brought into the project by the Head of Workplace at Lend Lease Europe. As a development team they were aiming to refine the Lend Lease message, offer and service for working at the International Quarter London.

The macro purpose of this exercise for Lend Lease was to (a) know their customer better, but more importantly ensure that the significant capital they are laying out is effective and resilient going forward. The success metrics will be in sustained use of space without needs for re-adjustment or re-design.

Internally they had set a brief that the work and lifestyle campus will offer users a place for “inspiration”. Amongst many other partners across placemaking and consultancy were commissioned to help in some ways deliver this hard to achieve metric. For this project we worked directly with the development team at Lend Lease. The project was at RIBA Stage 2 and they were drafting their design codes and ideas to submit a planning application associated with Stage 3. Following a 1.5hr workshop we identified areas of influence which were physically focused on the internal landlord owned and run coworking space, their active lobbies, and outdoor work pods. Their question; who were these spaces for, why, and how should they be curated across all aspects of development, design, brand, technology and management style. There were 3 stages to the work performed
  • Stage1:Given there was little known about future occupiers we had to better understand being a worker in a city like London. The humanities and sociological research was focused on identifying macro trends that are likely to influence their use and expectations of space. Following that we performed a built assessment to understand what physical elements of their lives are likely to have an effect on their biology, cognition. In addition we helped produce written content articulating how a person might reach a state of inspiration; i.e. what are the basic comfort levels needed to have a cognitive process that might allow someone to be inspired.
  • Stage2:Examine the Cognitive Type using the built environment. This was a process of taking stage 1 into account to understand the cognitive processes associated with being a worker on campus. In the workshop we identified the likely occupiers of the scheme and the reasons they would come to the IQL campus. This gave us a rough idea of like audiences, company profiles and numbers of persons within each Type. In this case there were 4 Types we had to address. Analysing the work processes flow against our historical database of biological and cognitive studies helps shape stage 3. The Workplace team for Lend Lease were intended to offer a very hands on approach in helping their occupiers make the most of their space at IQL and therefore using this information they could (a) better communicate with potential occupiers relevant on site qualities, and (b) gauge numbers of users in accordance to general office space and the “third spaces” being offered by the landlord. This space planning helps an occupier understand their own needs within their demise as well as the developer in likely numbers and reasons for use on site.
  • Stage3:Assess the relationship in totality and uncover where from the original plans there are potential risks that need to be accommodated in the programming and design of the building. Outline advice was given which was supported by a risk assessment document.

PRE-OCCUPANCY

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TH REAL ESTATE

(RIBA Stage 6-7)

Centric supported the Asset Management & Development Management Team in some key decision making prior to completion and occupancy of a speculative office building in the City of London.

Outputs focused on

Helping identify ideal building amenity usage to suit workflows or users. Identifying methods in which to improve the health of daily users.

Smart Building Technologies

 

Written content covered the changing nature of target industries and how human productivity can be supported in this change through amenity curation and design alongside smart technologies.

Centric were brought in when the development was close to completion however questions remained on the final curation of key building areas.

The purpose of our consulting for TH Real Estate was to ensure the internal building offer was in-sync for what tenants want. TH Real sought our consultancy on behalf of the Cityhold Office Partnership (A leading pan-European office investment platform focused on core investments in Tier 1 cities.)

One key factor that inspired us about working with TH Real Estate is that despite existing success they believe in a better future for cities and citizens. The Fund achieved 'Green Star' status in its inaugural year of participation (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB)) and beat its peer group average in 6 out of 7 benchmark aspects. The Fund achieved a score of 96/100 for its sustainability management programme and a score of 93/100 for its ability to manage sustainability risks and maximise opportunities.

Acknowledging that modern office buildings are more than just stacked floorplates the developers dedicated 10% of the building as 'Third Space' that would support the overal productivity success of the building as well as be commercially successful. In addition they wanted to curate the retail offer to be something valuable to the users of the building. Our brief was set.

There were 3 stages to the work performed
  • Stage1:As the building sits within a working built environment we are able to do an Area Assessment alongside a Human Assessment. Results demonstrated the need to mitigate the environmental stressors of the city and provide spaces that would support occupiers needs of a multi-generational workforce and business transition.
  • Stage2:Identifying the Cognitive Types; this was a process of taking stage 1 into account to understand the cognitive processes associated with being a worker within the City of London and 70 St. Mary Axe. 4 Types were identified however with different emphasis on numbers. Therefore using this information they could (a) better communicate with potential occupiers relevant on site qualities, and (b) gauge numbers of users in accordance to general office space and the “third spaces” being offered by the landlord. This space planning helps an occupier understand their own needs within their demise as well as the developer in likely numbers and reasons for use on site. Analysing the work processes flow against our historical database of biological and cognitive studies helped shape stage 3.
  • Stage3:Assess the relationship in totality and uncover where from the original plans there are potential risks that need to be accommodated in the programming and design of the building. Outline advice was given which covered (i) building users most in need of a 'Third Space', (ii) how to use the entrance lobby as an active space supporting users wellbeing and comforts, and (iii) how smart technology can be used in the building and via occupier services could better enable health, wellbeing and productivity on site. The advice was supported by a risk assessment document.


Pre-occupancy assessment for people. Get that right and the investment will look after itself. Simple when you think about it.
— Client in Commercial Real Estate

Typically to perform a Risk Assessment is a 6-8 week process (sometimes less) and includes introduction and closing workshops. Alongside the practitioner based work, written material is professionally translated and ready for industry use often via marketing and communication channels.