Ideal Laboratory Conditions (mock-up study)
In order to better design laboratory space that meets the needs of particular sciences, Payette design teams occasionally conduct shadow studies with laboratories. Shadow studies allow designers to closely observe users in order to understand how their work utilizes the space, frequently for Payette projects, a laboratory.
During tours of academic research laboratories and similar facilities in 2006, design teams noticed the researchers utilized the laboratories and support spaces differently than expected. The design team observed occupants favoring support spaces to complete their work rather than the laboratory spaces. This observation led the design team to question the current laboratory planning practices and thus began to explore alternatives that better align with current trends in the sciences.
Current laboratory planning placed the performance of the majority of laboratory work on the laboratory bench or in the fume hoods with supplemental work completed in the support spaces.
However, the design team observed in many scientific disciplines, the reverse is true. Therefore, current laboratory planning principles are misaligned with a key shift in the nature of the scientific research. Shadow studies allow designers to observe current laboratory practices in the laboratory environment and adjust their planning approach to provide state of the art laboratory space for the future.
To improve our design response a design team presented the shadow study process to a client and our team performed shadow studies with three specific laboratories moving into new research space.
The shadow study process lasts two days. The first day consisted of meetings, including a general group meeting to explain the study and a series of interviews with selected laboratory researchers. The second day included data collection, such as measuring lighting, temperature and humidity levels, inventorying the laboratory equipment, measuring the physical spaces and clearances, making notes of problem areas and observing the researchers at work. In addition, throughout the shadow study, the team identified ideal adjacencies of spaces, ideal dimensions and missing spaces or equipment. The two day shadow study provided excellent information on the nature of each science and identified problem areas in the current laboratory planning principles.
Upon completion of the design and construction of the laboratories Payette once again employed the use of shadow studies to determine if our design response met the changing needs of the researchers. The team collected readings of temperature, humidity, lighting and sound. To produce unbiased observations, the shadow study team observing users post-occupancy in the new lab space were not involved in the original design. Over a period of three days this team interviewed and quite literally shadowed users to determine the nature of their work and how the design impacts the work.
Using the evidence provided by this kind of research is becoming increasingly important to our design process. Not only does it hone our individual and collective design skills, it improves the quality of the services we provide our clients.
Laboratory on move-in day
Actual Laboratory Conditions (after months of use)