Despite the rise of branded buildings, which are claimed to offer an experience, there is no evidence that they truly support human activity. In other words, there is no evidence that these buildings have a methodology behind their branding, design, or engineering which is centered around people. In the case of commercial real estate it’s challenge is identifying the balance between and integration of 2 subsects of Human-Centered Design; User Experience Design and Service Design. Both defined as:

Service Design: First introduced as a design discipline at the Köln International School of Design in 1991 it is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service provider and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant to the customers.

User Experience Design: The process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

Both practices came to the fore in the early 2000s when it became more common for external designers to join or lead management strategy team meetings on products and services within the technology, media and fast-moving-consumer-goods industries. This was as a result of hyper-connected consumers with more access to insight and choice. This set the tone around which those inhabiting buildings were being influenced. Commercial Real Estate’s challenge is to provide services akin to its lifestyle competitors of cars, homes, leisure providers who have already acknowledged as Paul Doherty CIO of Accenture puts it, “the change from a static industrialised process to a dynamic personalised one”.

Given the current state of play and low satisfaction of built environments it’s fair to say that the only industry not to adopt service design or UX design en masse is real estate and architecture. It has been more focused on exploiting and exploring the combination of capital and material. Therefore, the real estate industry finds itself some years behind as it scrambles to find solutions to the demands of health, wellbeing, productivity and effortless service provision.

An inability to answer these needs through a multi-layered platform of service will accelerate obsolescence in a consumer-driven society.