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Designing for enjoyable experiences in future smart buildings

KEKO has conducted thorough studies to understand the building users’ world, and to see the smart buildings with their eyes. KEKO user experience goals reflect user expectations and give concrete guidance to the design of smart building ecosystems and related services.


Designing for enjoyable experiences in future smart buildings

Imagine stepping into a busy business-building mall or into a classical building renovated to innovation hub full of buzz. How are you feeling? How would you like to feel? There are plenty of people and technical solutions ensuring that we as visitors or workers feel comfortable and that we get our work or visit done  smoothly. There are systems taking care of pleasant indoor climate, systems supporting  smooth moving  and systems ensuring safety. Different kinds of cleaning, logistic and maintenance services are needed to keep the environment tidy and functioning. The building itself, the technical solutions, the services and the social environment consisting of other people in the building – all these influence the building user’s experience.

As a part of our joint journey in developing blossoming building ecosystems  that offer desirable experiences for people, we have conducted thorough studies to understand the building users’ world, and seeing the building with their eyes. To reflect user expectations towards future smart buildings, we have defined user experience goals for different building user groups. In the following, we describe the user experience goals that we have set for visitors, business tenants, facility managers and external service providers. Do these resonate with you?

Building visitors want to feel welcome and confident

The visitor should be appreciated, the visitor should feel convenient even if (s)he needs to wait and the visitor should have easy and personal access to relevant guidance and other information needed during the visit. For example, could the increasingly common  self-service registration machines welcome the visitor in a more personal way?

People working in the building want to feel cared for and empowered as part of the community

The tenant companies and their employees should be provided with a healthy, safe and enjoyable working environment that supports their ways of working. Their personal preferences should be taken into account when providing information and services. They should be able to influence, they should have easy ways to communicate their needs, and they should get prompt feedback. The tenants want to be respected as individuals, still feeling being part of the community that is committed to sharing and caring of each other. How could we better support people working in the building to enjoy when reaching their best?

Facility managers want to sense the pulse of the building and its community

People in charge of facility management need to make sure that the building works as planned and the building usage is optimized as planned. The facility management aims to ensure healthy and comfortable environment for building users, to respond promptly to building users’ needs and keep them informed.  Facility management needs access to situationally relevant information to be able to make good decisions. They will need support especially in exceptional situations.  How could we create solutions that bring the building and its life right at the facility manager’s fingertips?

External service providers want to feel at home and to enjoy serving well

Service providers want to know well their customers’ needs to be able to serve them efficiently, addressing promptly even unexpected wishes. The service provider needs to know precisely what (s)he is expected to do, where to go and how to report. This is supported by smooth access to the facilities and the information needed in different situations. How could we support service providers feeling at home at all the various buildings that they serve?

Now that we are starting to ideate solutions and services enabling desirable experiences for the various building users, our aim is to use the defined user experience (UX) goals to guide the design of the concepts. The UX goals support setting concrete targets and evaluation criteria to how people would like to experience living and working in a smart building. Shared UX goals ensure that all who contribute to the design process have a clear conception of the targeted experience, and can make design decisions accordingly. When developing smart building solutions, the concrete UX goals help in keeping UX in focus throughout the various parallel solution and service development processes, including user evaluations.


Looking forward to enjoyable building experiences,

Eija Kaasinen, Principal Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Maaria Nuutinen, Senior Principal Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd