Karen Jackson BEng (Hons) Product Design Engineering, MPhil Industrial Systems Manufacture and Management

Job Title:

Research Student


Mackintosh School of Architecture



‘User-centred controls?’
Work by Karen Jackson

‘User-centred controls?’


Karen Jackson

Development of User-Centred Design in the Built Environment

Supervisor: Dr Tim Sharpe

Karen’s background in Product Design Engineering, combined with her continued work as an Engineer designing mechanical building services, have produced a curiosity as to how the design of the built environment can be improved by focusing on the needs of the building user.

Current research within the built environment shows that a performance gap often exists between predictions made during design and the operation of the building, in terms of both energy use and comfort. The pressure of increased energy performance targets, coupled with cost and time constraints on projects, can produce the unintended consequence of buildings that do not meet the needs and expectations of the building occupants. If buildings are used and operated in ways not anticipated by the designers, this can result in poor comfort conditions for occupants and increased energy use, which can have a commercial impact for businesses. For buildings to be successful and sustainable there must be an aim to reduce the gap in performance, whilst considering user experience and satisfaction to a greater extent during the design process.

The primary aim of the research is to develop a framework based on user-centred principles, to bring focus to the needs of the building user throughout the design process, taking into account the various user types across a diverse range of buildings, in order to design more effective and usable buildings.

This will include a review of user-centred methods, employed successfully in other fields of design, to determine opportunities to adapt these principles for use within the built environment. This aims to assist in developing design predictions that are closer to how the building operates in reality, therefore reducing the performance gap.

Karen's CV

Karen's CV |

An insight into Karen's experience