AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

Architectural Design Quality in Local Authority Private Finance Initiative Sheltered Housing Projects: The Development of an Evaluation Tool

by Monika Sharma

Institution: University of Northumbria
Department: Architecture and Built Environment
Year: 2014
Keywords: K100 Architecture; K400 Planning (Urban, Rural and Regional)
Record ID: 1410222
Full text PDF: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/21596/


Ever since the 1990s, when the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was developed as the primary method for delivering major public-sector capital projects in the UK, it has been severely criticised for the lack of design quality in the buildings that it produced. The main driver for this thesis was to redress that situation. The development of an Architectural Design Quality Evaluation Tool was based on a live project with a metropolitan council in the North East of England. The aim was to improve the design quality of schemes that had been submitted through a PFI to replace the council’s entire sheltered housing stock. The Tool has two functions. It was a substantial part of the assessment process, which selected the preferred bidding consortium from the original six bidders, through a series of stages. However, it was also directed at improving the quality of all submitted designs through an iterative process. While existing tools provide useful benchmarks, and some offer means of structuring an evaluation, none are totally applicable in the context of PFI competitive bidding processes. Moreover, the existing tools are good for evaluating performance attributes of buildings, and these are important, but do not substantially tackle the less tangible amenity attributes that are vital to engendering the feeling of home. This Tool emphasises the amenity attributes without neglecting performance, thus generating a design quality hierarchy. The criteria for assessment are derived from academic publications. In order to reflect the hierarchy, each criterion was weighted on a scale of one to five, in accordance with multivariable utility theory. The percentage allocation to each main heading of the Tool was determined by the local authority Project Team. A User Guide was developed to assist the evaluation of schemes. The Tool itself was appraised at the final stage, assisting the selection of the preferred bidder. The designs were evaluated in three reviews, thus providing 156 results. The Tool and its development have been published, and the Tool and the User Guide accepted by the Homes and Communities Agency as an example of good practice. Both currently appear on its website. The Tool continues to assist other social housing providers with the design quality of their own projects.