social value in architecture projects

Social value in architectural projects

What is social value in architecture

Social value in architecture refers to the positive impact your project has beyond the value stakeholders get from it directly. The more your project idea affects the well-being of individuals and communities, the more social value it has.

Architectural projects that focus on social value are not just about buildings and spaces being cheap or aesthetically pleasing. A project with high social value contributes to the social, economic, and environmental fabric of the area it is constructed in.

Why worry about social value

First and foremost, the benefit of producing high social value projects is obvious: as a well-meaning professional and human being, you want to improve the world around you.

Second, being known for projects with high social value makes it easier to market your architectural practice. You are able to build a reputation that helps you get more clients and close better deals.

Third, and the most practical reason, adding tangible social value to your project helps you win tenders.

In the UK, architecture tenders are often won by projects that demonstrate a high degree of social value. 

The UK government and many private entities have increasingly prioritized projects that contribute positively to society for a while already. The UK’s Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 requires public authorities to consider how the services they commission and procure might improve the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the area. Demonstrating the social value of your project is not just beneficial, but often a requirement in public sector tenders.

Even if social value requirements are not obligatory in tender terms, this dimension can help your project stand out from the competition and increase your chances of winning. That’s not to mention how valuable community support can be (usually communities oppose new constructions).

How to boost the social value of your architectural project

Architectural projects can create social value in numerous ways. To increase the social value of an architectural project in the UK, you need to confidently navigate several major directions:

  • The clients’ preferences
  • Current trends
  • The community’s needs and wants

Once you have a clear view of everything that the project stakeholders, the community around the project site, and the society in general want – you can get a lot of ideas on boosting the social value of your project.

Here’s a set of major angles to look at your project to increase its’ social value:

Common spaces

The social value of architectural projects grows when you design buildings and spaces that enhance the quality of life, promote social cohesion, and foster a sense of belonging. 

You can add social value by creating spaces that encourage interaction. This could be through the design of public spaces such as parks, community centers, or shared spaces around residential buildings (cafes, co-working spaces, sport grounds, dog parks, skate parks, and a lot more).

Economy & Jobs

Social value in architecture also means how a project can contribute to local economies. A well-designed shopping centre or office space close to residential buildings can attract businesses, boost local commerce, and create jobs.

The Kings Cross Station redevelopment in London is a noteworthy example. The project transformed a previously run-down area into a bustling transport hub with shops, restaurants, and public spaces. It has improved connectivity, stimulated economic growth, and enhanced the quality of life for local residents.

Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is another key aspect of social value in architecture. Buildings that are designed to be energy-efficient, use sustainable materials, and contribute to the overall reduction of carbon emissions not only benefit the environment but also create healthier spaces for people to live and work in.

Inclusivity & accessibility

UK architects can increase the social value of their projects by promoting inclusivity and accessibility. 

This means designing buildings and spaces that are accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ability, or socio-economic status. Always focus on thoughtful design that considers the diverse needs of all potential users.

Culture & locality

You can also boost the social value of your architectural project by making sure it preserves and enhances local culture and heritage. 

This can be achieved by designing projects that respect and incorporate local architectural styles, materials, and techniques, thereby contributing to the preservation of local identity and sense of place.

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh, with its unique and symbolic design, is an example of a high social value project. It symbolizes accessibility and transparency of political processes, encouraging civic participation. The building’s design, which incorporates elements of Scotland’s natural landscape, also contributes to a sense of national identity.

The role of project management for higher social value of projects

Proper project management in architectural projects in the UK is instrumental to discovering and maximizing the social value of your projects. A lot of architects who struggle with social value ideas are in fact struggling with sub-par project management. 

Here’s what that means in practice:

Stakeholder engagement

When you are efficient as a project manager, you treat stakeholder engagement and communication right

When all stakeholders (including community representatives) are on the same page, you end up creating architectural designs that are not only functional but also resonate with the cultural, historical, and social fabric of the area.

More co-consultants = more options

You can work with city planners, sustainability professionals, and other co-consultants effectively to make your projects more socially valuable.

Risk management

Project management also involves risk management, which is extremely helpful in assessing the needs and interests of the community.

Analytics & decision-making

Project management involves monitoring and evaluation, which is crucial in ensuring that the architectural projects are delivering the intended social value. With PlanMan you can keep all the documents and reports accessible for your team at all times with no version conflicts.

Since proper project management is key in maximizing the social value of architectural projects, consider investing in learning it.

Project management software for architects can make it a lot easier to create social value in several ways. 

We’ve developed PlanMan to help you produce socially valuable projects. 

Take a look at how easy PlanMan makes the daily routine of an architect, sign up for the free trial today!