Method for the application of User-Centred Design (UCD). Case study: non-care task rooms (NTC) in hospitals.
The EMPENTA method is the result of an operational research work that concludes in the definition of a mathematical calculation that allows to improve the quality of the solutions of space design projects. This tool weighs up the different characteristics that condition the project to be developed, optimises the actions with which to perfect the living space and improves the experience of the people who will use the place.
It is not intended to replace any professional in the project team: the work carried out by architects, designers and engineers will be enhanced thanks to the contribution of the method. EMPENTA allows a preliminary analysis to be carried out and the results obtained serve as a guide for the realisation of the project in question. The characteristics considered in the analysis are:
The initial state of the space to be acted upon: the starting situation is checked using a checklist.
The changing opinion of the users: the attributes of the project depend on the priorities defined by the users (to have a space suitable for their needs).
Architecture, geometry, fit-out and space management are variables that depend on each other: the relationships that are established are complex and their different degrees of influence are decisive in providing precise solutions.
The finite resources that are going to be used to carry out the project and which condition the actions to be carried out.
The medical management of the Hospital General de Catalunya (Sant Cugat) and the Hospital Sagrado Corazón (Barcelona) have reported the real need for their centres to have spaces prepared for medical staff to carry out non-care tasks: rooms to house a series of changing activities (diversity of functions) and which can be occupied on a rotating basis (diversity of users).
The performance of such tasks is necessary for the proper functioning of hospitals and given the rethinking of everyday situations brought about by Covid-19, the way in which these spaces should be designed becomes more relevant. The change of behaviours, habits and procedures (present and future) validates the use of EMPENTA as an analysis tool for the design of spaces, attending to the best user experience and complying with a determined programme of activities.
After executing the method with which the mentioned characteristics are weighted, a concrete list of the most influential aspects that the project team must consider in order to undertake the design of the space with guarantees of success is obtained. To easily check the improvement obtained, EMPENTA gives numerical values (on a scale from 1 to 10) that allow a graphic and easy comparison between the initial state (before) and the final state (after) of the place in question.
Converting the users' opinions into measurable data and categorising the relationships between the variables that condition the design of the work environment allows this information to be transformed into numerical factors and mathematical operations to be carried out with them. In this way, the EMPENTA method provides precise results on the improvements to be made to increase the versatility of a work environment.
*The data used come from the research and subsequent simulations carried out at the Hospital General de Catalunya (Sant Cugat) and also at the Hospital Sagrado Corazón (Barcelona). Two centres with similar needs that, depending on the characteristics considered in the analysis, need to resolve the design of the space in a different way. This demonstrates the usefulness of the method defined.
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Author: Chema Ibáñez