University of Oulu

Herneoja, A., Markkanen, P. and Juuti, E. (2022), "An architectural viewpoint to user-centred work environment research to support spatial understanding in a transdisciplinary context through ecosystem-based approach", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 224-239.

An architectural viewpoint to user-centred work environment research to support spatial understanding in a transdisciplinary context through ecosystem-based approach

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Author: Herneoja, Aulikki1; Markkanen, Piia1; Juuti, Eevi1
Organizations: 1Oulu School of Architecture, Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-22


Purpose: This paper aims to build on the presumption that defining the spatial solution of the activity-based office environment through user-centred interdisciplinary dialog would strengthen understanding of interdependencies between the environment and the worker. Secondly, this presumption also contributes to the idea that the shared and clarified concepts of a spatial solution through location-specific structuring, would support the research outcomes in being communicated to the design practice, and further improve the work environment design in the future. Thirdly, this supposition is that understanding, documenting and communicating of the interdependencies between the environment and the worker would contribute to increased interdisciplinary understanding, ultimately benefitting the end-user, the worker.

Design/methodology/approach: The driver of this conceptual paper is to encourage understanding across disciplinary boundaries and communication of work environment research results for implementation in design practice. The authors introduce an ecosystem-based approach to discuss the spatial solutions of activity-based office work environments. This approach is motivated by a need to understand the contradictory findings in former knowledge work environment research, such as ambiguities with shared concepts concerning interdisciplinary spatial discourse and shortcomings with user-centred methodologies in architectural design research. The transdisciplinarity forms the methodological framework of this paper, and it is reflected in relation to the design research approach Research by Design (RbD). RbD considers the professional designer’s viewpoint, which includes creative knowledge production, carrying out the operations of research in a real-life context with interdisciplinary interactions together with the worker’s user-experience.

Findings: The research outcome is the proposal of an activity-based office ecosystem-based approach, in which the physical environment is structured into two entities: architectural envelope and interior orchestration. In this twofold approach, both qualitative and quantitative contents are meant to be seen as part of the time-location-based framework of an office space. This integrative approach is intended to support the process of searching for understanding and unity of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. The twofold structuring also has an essential role in supporting methodological choices and the communication of the research outcomes both between disciplines and to design practice. The twofold model also has a role in engaging users as participants and evidence providers in the design or research processes.

Originality/value: The location-specific ecosystem-based approach of the physical work environment compiles of a twofold entity architectural envelope and interior orchestration. This approach supports affordance-based thinking, understanding the ecosystem’s complexity and underpins spatial documentation. Furthermore, this location-specific ecosystem-based approach enables communication of the research outcomes to the design practice and participation actions with the users.

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Series: Journal of corporate real estate
ISSN: 1463-001X
ISSN-E: 1479-1048
ISSN-L: 1463-001X
Volume: 24
Issue: 3
Pages: 224 - 239
DOI: 10.1108/jcre-12-2020-0070
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 211 Architecture
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This paper has benefitted the results of InnoStaVa – innovation supporting working environments in startup enterprise, 2016–2018, funded by (UOULU, OSA and LET, nine companies) and the European regional development fund (grant number a71443), and the ActiveWorkSpace, Spatial solutions for environmental satisfaction, well-being and work engagement in activity-based offices, 2018–2022, funded by consortium of UOULU, FIOH and TUAS and Academy of Finland research project funding (grant number 314597).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 314597
Detailed Information: 314597 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022, Aulikki Herneoja, Piia Markkanen and Eevi Juuti. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at