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abn 85 914 246 230
Designing& Delivering an Effective Control Centre Built
Environment through Collaborative Participation
Today, I would like to talk about designing and deliveringan effective control
centre built environment through collaborative participation.
I will introduce the ISO standard and its flow chart for ergonomic design.
I will then present a typical building project organisational structure, and how the
parties in that structure occupy my view of a design and delivery domain.
I’ll show a flow path of the Delivery Process, and briefly present some tools I find
Finally, I’ll present three case studies.
My focus is the built environment and how it responds to the humans who occupy
it, and with the early input of ergonomics, human factors and subject matter
experts, so our designs at the very least do no harm, and indeed seek to enhance
the human condition.
We shape our built environment, and in turn…
…our built environment shapes us.
ISO 11064-1:2000 Ergonomic design of control centres –
Part 1: Principles for the design of control centres.
So, let’s start with the international standard for the ergonomic design of control
What is ergonomics?
Very simply, from its Greek roots:
ergo = work; nomos = arrange
Ergonomics is the understanding, study and provision of work environments.
It is not just desks and chairs.
In Part 1 is this ergonomicdesign process flow diagram, for the application of
human-centred design for designing and delivering an effective control centre.
I apply it in a different order to reinforce the value of early input of human factors
and subject matter experts, and to maintain solution flexibility, and to allow the
human-centred design to evolve from the human tasks and work patterns at the
immediate interface, out to the sizing and design of the spaces necessary to
accommodate those tasks at the broader interfaces.
Such fundamental space requirement decisions made with Very Early Specific
Design Advice form the built environment and human factors team in the project
definition phase ensures thedelivery of an effective control centre built
In my opinion, to not be at this level of requirements and scoping certainty for
concept approval increases the potential to reduce solution flexibility and involve
the project in excessive change management.
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Collaborative participation is a structured and engaged client, customer and stakeholder body working
with a multi-disciplinary team of subject matter experts.
This is a principle of ISO11064.
Here is an example structure…
The Client entities and the specifically-skilled Project Manager work alongside…
…the Client’s design teams and the Built Environment Design Consultant who will each deliver
coordinated design within the overall project definition. They are engaged as the lead design
The High-level design team consists of the human factors professionals who interview, collect data,
review legislation, set parameters, and advise the…
…engineering and cost consultants who design and document the built environment…
…for delivery through the tendering and contracting process for construction and commissioning.
The predesign team should be retained to evaluate the occupied facility and advise on improvements
which, together with post-occupancy operational feedback, contribute to….
…an improved knowledge base for future projects.
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Designing & Delivering
Design & Delivery Domain
This is a diagram I’ve devised to illustrate the building project design and delivery domain, and how
and when the main parties contribute and collaborate.
Above the horizontal are the design phases, and below, the delivery phases.
To the left of the vertical are the initial stages of these phases, and to the right, the final stages.
Therefore, the quadrants illustrate the main parties and interfaces involved in:
o Initial Design, with emphasis on human factors;
o Final Design, concentrating on implementation and engineering;
o Initial Delivery, finalising corporate input and vendor strategies and tendering;
o Final Delivery, actually building and commissioning a project
To illustrate the spheres of influence and collaboration:
o The centre is occupied by the key personnel who define the project requirements, receive a benefit
from the project, and hold an interest in the outcomes;
o The quadrants are straddled and occupied by teams and parties to illustrate their primary
o The adjacencies in this diagram illustrate direct design and coordination relationships.
When applied, such a diagram helps to coordinate the inputs and define the lines of communication
From that point, the deliverables will be coordinated in a Delivery Process.
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This flow chart describes one linear procurement model – it can be modified to be many others, as
complex as necessary, but following a simple process line of:
- Build and commission;
The stakeholders are heavily engaged in all parts of the process, as givers and receivers of critical
information in a structured cycle of reporting, verifying and validating.
The stakeholders are engaged to determine the operational and functional requirements of their
workplace, culminating in the Requirements Document…
…which contains the project definition, scope and brief for the production of…
…high level designs by the built environment team and the ops. systems and IT teams.
Those teams consult and review with the stakeholders and cycle responses, leading towards a high
level design sign-off which includes the updating of the Requirements Document. Both the High Level
Design and the requirements Document can be cross-referenced, comparative and consistent.
At this sign-off point, all known deliverables are defined and further necessary change is governed by
a change management procedure while the detailed designs…
…are being prepared.
At the appropriate point in the preparation of the detailed designs, extracts are submitted formally to…
…external stakeholders, such as landlords and Council building authorities, who will in turn issue
approvals, terms and conditions.
Concurrently, the client’s corporate divisions must be preparing their relevant input documents which
will govern delivery and define corporate terms and conditions.
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The final tender documents consist of the built environment detailed design, the ops. systems and IT
detailed designs, and the approvals and terms and conditions under which the built project will be
delivered – in other words – all information necessary for a contractor to know precisely the works
being offered for tendering.
Upon conclusion of the tendering…
…a contract is created for construction…
…including the commissioning phase, where the stakeholders take possession of the project and
participate in its coming on-line.
The built solution…
…is monitored for built defects, operational effectiveness, compliance with the Requirements
Document, and general satisfaction of performance against the relevant criteria.
I’ll just mention some tools which seem useful in the Design & Delivery Domain and the Delivery
Collaborative participation requires parties to work together. Tools keep them informed, audited, and
on a time line.
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Possibly the single most important tool for clarifying goals and background requirements for integrated
delivery is a thorough, and integrated, Project Plan.
The Project Plan should incorporate the identification, engagement, and input of Subject Matter
Experts at these earliest pointsin the Design & Delivery, illustrating how the effective and safe built
environment depends onVery Early Specific Design Advice.
With the co-existence of all participants on the same Project Plan and time-lines, a good project plan:
Will foster planning and collaboration;
It will focus on the design, integration and delivery of subject matter;
It will reinforce the participants responsibilities to identifyand service dependencies;
And it will identify and escalate project delivery.
PERPETUAL RISK REGISTER
Alongside of the Project plan should be a Risk Registerwhich will capturerisks earlyand helpmanage,
mitigate, and cost their impact throughout the project delivery.
The Requirements Document, or Brief, is simply an evolving and perpetual document which records
anything necessary to record the project brief and ensure its effective integration in the delivery of the
It is helpful to design the document to incorporate verification and validation processes, that each line
item can be signed-off as delivered and compliant in the built solution.
It may even go so far as to be aligned with the eventual commissioning plan.
The Requirements Document should only contain resolutions and probably not the processes from
which the resolutions evolved, otherwise it becomes a cumbersome document.
Nevertheless, some of the evolution needs to be planned, programmed, and controlled from day to
day, and recorded to some extent, which brings us to one of the more useful recording tools for
collaborative participation, an evolving and perpetual…
ACTION LIST,which simply records, under whatever categories and breakdowns are desired, the
tasks which the team members are assigned, and that those tasks are completed and closed.
How many vitally important project requirements are embedded innocuously in emails? Who is
capable of identifying them and absorbing them?
Such a tool, contributed to across the team, with actions, responsibilities and dates, puts actions in
one place. Colour-coded, it lights up like a control panel, showing the team where the alarms are,
having the best chance of monitoring and retrieving lost time and delays, and minimising surprises.
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There will be varying levels of time-line scheduling.
The Project Plan is an overview tool, and the project will require expanded detail in an...
High level time line schedules;
Detailed time line schedules; and
Critical path schedules
I’d suggest that projects align scheduling with project costing and budget reporting with experienced
built environment Quantity Surveyors and Cost Managers who, being embedded in the building
industry,understand the local market conditions that will directly affect the building costs, and be
capable of advising on lead time and availabilities realistically to set up the project budget
In my opinion, one more tool of importance is a space planning relationships diagram. There could be
many as the project briefing and requirements gathering evolves.
This tool will study the relationships and traffic intensity and the internal arterial linkages that
personnel will use, as well as functional near-to services and operational adjacencies.
It should be used to identify hot-spots and planning deficiencies before they go into designs.
A good planning relationships diagram will evolve very easily into a high level layout design.
So, may I present 3 case studies of built control rooms:
- One-off, phased, built in place, power station control centre.
- Fitting out a heavily constrained control centre in a capital city CBD office tenancy for field
operations, and as the prototype control centre for the eventual centre; and
- Green-field, new design, all prototyped, rolled out as a base design across 4 facilities.
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Case Study 1 – Power Station Unit Control Centre
Case Study 1 is a one-off power station control centre, phased over three construction periods which
coincided with low demand seasonal plant outages.
The project was built in place and involved significant collaborative participation, masterplanning,
phasing, decamping and interim commissioning.
It once looked like this.
The whole site included the equipment rooms and support and amenities.
And there was a mezzanine visitors’ deck.
The control room itself…
Was entered from the Turbine Hall…
…and the arrival point was an unwanted focus of visits, chatter, loitering and general nuisance….
…and the Supervisor had very limited observation over the room.
The Amenities and Mess were peripheral and capable of being excised from the building site…
…as were the main support spaces, all making for a phasing plan which saw the Amenities and
support spaces upgraded first, then returned to service.
This piece of planning enhanced the collaborative participation through delivery of new, hygienic and
spacious amenities and support spaces as the first delivery – buy in from all parties!
As we look at the construction photos, you will get a sense of being involved in a construction project.
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Case Study 2 – CBD Field Operations Control Centre
Case Study 2 is the fitout a field operations control room and support spaces in a capital city CBD
I’ve selected it as a case study in collaborative participation because it was lousy with constraints:
- Restricted space in existing tenancy – “Landlocked” by Plant and Kitchen on 2 sides, and on
the external corner so the other 2 sides – 50% of the perimeter – were windows.
- It was a new business with a no real planning model.
- There was a very tight space and a 7 week window for construction.
- Partial services roll-out meant end-to-end comms were not yet deployed.
We can see the consistent evolution from design imagery to built project.
Notice the knowledge wall at the front of the control room is on an external wall
Landlord-imposed design constraints included…
…reasonable respect for and sympathetic treatment of the base building architecture…
…with detailing including opaque panelling behind the closed blinds behind the windows, with a
vented space to avoid heat build-up.
Also, the provision of supplementary…
…Computer Room Air Conditioning which requires additional plant and cooling to much lower
temperatures than those of the human occupied spaces. This kind of access, road closing, cranage
and planning is a huge logistical exercise for a unit weighing only 220kg.
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Case Study 3 – Rail Network Control Centre
Case Study 3is actually two of four facilities for rail network control.
They had their genesis in the first control centre project I did…
…which, having been a ground breaker in many of the services and systems incorporated in it, was
recognized at the time of its completion in 2003…
…with 2 design awards, for commercial excellence and ecological sustainability.
As a building, it has enveloping forms and…
…architectural devices to support its climatic credentials…
…and interior treatments to minimize dependence upon artificial lighting and energy consumption.
As a control centre…
…itis clear of columns, discreet from through traffic…
…adjacent to and observable from the supervisory and support rooms, and…
…serviced from a subfloor cable chamber through discreet ports in the floor.
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…which are laid out on a grid devised and trialled to coincide with any number of control desk layouts
and orientations. The flexibility was evident when, after being laid out parallel to the front wall for the
first client, the desks were eventiually installed perpendicular, and every desk coincided with the
necessary data, power, UPS and air supply ports.
The control room supervisory and support rooms are towards the bottom and the Mess and Amenities
to the left.
The sections show the clear-spanning bow-string trusses which have long spanning capabilities
matched with a slender, tensile, bottom chord…
…to produce the most physically and visually open space we could.
The subfloor cable chamber is housed in the deep truss, above the lower level equipment rooms thus
making the cable chamber an extremely efficient cable management space for the life of the building
with virtually no disruption to the operators at their control desks.
The architectural design derives from the environmental responses…
…and the functional construction form.
After the commissioning of the building and before being re-engaged by the new owner, there had
Here is the thrust of my case study – an example of what a lack of collaborative participation can
achieve, and how, without it, a less-than effective design is delivered, and how, with proper design
input and collaborative participation, a very useful, successful and effective design can be.
The proof is in the number of units rolled out forthis client, and others in the same industry.
The brief required a sit-stand desk with an adjustable-slope chart table for the paper-based function
associated with this operation, co-existing with screen-based data.
I explained several difficulties which this prototype had yet to address:
- The rear 9” of the desktop stayed in place while the bulk of the desktop raised and lowered.
The split had a lot of problems with equipment not being clear, of toppling when the bases
were not fully on one surface or the other, and when returning to the home position, papers,
manuals, and equipment were getting caught at the joint. This scissor action also posed
unacceptable injury points. Another injury point existed at the tops of the gable ends as the
desktop lowered to the home position.
- The monitors behind the sloping chart table were partially obscured when the chart table was
at its highest slope position. Putting the monitors on raised shelves contravened the ISO9355
recommendations for sight lines, and putting them on the chart table meant they tilted forward
as they rose with the table.
- And there was no storage, except under foot.
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The new design provided a one-piece, rising desktop on whichthe monitors remained vertical…
…as they rose on a mounting beam with the sloping chart table.
Hot rod engineering and prototyping produced a mechanism which achieved this.
The gables were replaced with storage modules whose heights were set at the desktop lowest setting
minus 80mm to prevent a squeeze injury.
Each desk was a screened workstation with access to the active components and cable races from
outside the workstation, so as to not interrupt the operator.
These are essentially open workstations, but part-height glazing is employed to mitigate noise.
This was the concluding act on the first building, before developing the responses for the next a few
years later, where they…
…managed rail network activity across three time zones, four in summer, andthe operators needed
immediate access to their paper charts for all time zones.
Leg space intrusionsby the deep drawers and the gables which supported them were unacceptable.
The opportunity for Very Early Specific Design Advice was eroded a bit because base building was
already under construction…
The base building design team was responsible for the completion of the administrative and support
facility but only the bare shells of the equipment room and control room…
…for which they had already made design commitments.
Unfortunately, the lessons of height and clear space developed at the firstcentre, were ignored by the
base building design team in this centre.
So we were fairly committed to a spinal, or centre-line-symmetrical layout on that one column, which
happily was actually in the centre of the room.
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This meant handed desks, which wasn’t ideal for this kind of operation.
The 12-desk layout included 6 open workstations and6 enclosed, acoustic-rated workstations for the
radio-reliant train-ordering boards, to mitigate the noise nuisance.
After detailing the shell fitout modifications, and developing the overall design of the desksthe next
collaborative task was prototyping the desks.
The prototype workstation remained in place, under operator appraisal for 4 months.
When the shell modifications contract was let, the prototype was removed to the factory, and the
…while in the meantime on site, fitout building works proceeded in a two week period in readiness for
the workstation fitout which was executed in a 4-day, 16 hours per day programme.
The major component of the design is the monitor mounting which incorporates mechanisms and
geometry to keep the beam vertical as it rises with the sloping chart table.
The beam and…
…universal brackets accommodate monitors from 24” up to 32” in both landscape and portrait
configuration, just above the table surface.
The final desks have beenso successful, and network controller acceptance is so positive, that this
basic design is being rolled out in the client’s 4 facilities and in other related businesses in the rail
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Summing Up – Key Messages for collaborative participation
VERY EARLY SPECIFIC DESIGN ADVICE – VESDA
HUMAN FACTORS INPUT &USER-CENTRED DESIGNAT THE FRONT END
SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS
Keep everyone on board – either as an effected party, a key decision maker, a key approval authority.
Be mindful of the gatekeepers who can exert influence over projects at various points.
Masterplan to manage the future evolution of the project, and to minimise redundant works. And
extend masterplanning to manage the life of the project and future upgrading and refurbishment
Don’t lock the business, the operators, or the stakeholders, into inflexible solutions. Work with the
design teams to make provision for contingencies. Look for simple solutions – they are the ones which
STEP UP TO NOVELTY
Visit many centres, acquire ideas, don’t be cordoned within your own industry sector.