19 Sep 2019

Why should something as simple as organising a meeting be so painful? You have to book the room, invite your customers and colleagues, and field their responses. Then, when you arrive at the allotted place at the allotted time, you find that the room has been double-booked. Or you have to cancel your meeting at short-notice, and then that room goes unused.

Imagine if, over a leisurely breakfast, you could open your personal workplace app on your smartphone and select a time slot for your meeting. The app automatically shows you the available rooms, and you are able to choose the one most suitable for your task. On the way to your meeting, you are informed that you need to sit-in on a conference call. Your workplace app tells you where the nearest quiet space is, so you go there. You forget to activate this room when you walk in, but it automatically detects your presence. Afterwards, the app informs that a meeting in another room, the one with the boardroom table and the big windows, has been cancelled. You change your meeting to that room, and your colleagues are automatically notified. Your previous venue is now listed as available for use by another team.

If only all of your interactions with the space in which you work – from finding a free desk and managing the heating and air conditioning to ordering a coffee – were this streamlined. Experts at Royal HaskoningDHV are working to make this happen.

What is a Living Lab and how can it deliver real added value?

At our headquarters in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, we have created the ‘Living Lab’, a knowledge hub for smart buildings and sustainable building design. The Living Lab is a space where pioneering technologies for the creation and management of smart and healthy environments can be developed and validated in partnership with our customers. In this co-creation environment, we can explore the value of their real estate and devise methods to make their facilities smart by design.

We built the Living Lab after recognising the fact that many technology providers focus on a single aspect of the user’s journey through a building and create a single tool to match but are unable to deliver a unified and tailored smart ecosystem. By putting the end user at the centre of our approach, we can do this. Our Living Lab helps to test how technologies work together and how different focus groups react to combinations of technologies, creating a real-life experience for clients and our own employees.
Using the Living Lab we can:

  • create working solutions that make built environments more pleasant to spend time in, more efficient and more data-rich; 
  • test and validate systems built around the needs of the users of these buildings and the journeys they take through them, which deliver proven solutions to customer problems;
  • test and validate technical solutions for smart buildings in partnership with, for instance, start-ups, tech companies and academic institutes;
  • assure a seamless user experience with tools and insights that have a real impact on the daily lives of employees, employers, users, facility managers, information technology (IT) and real estate managers.

Realising our vision

In 2018, the first phase of the Living Lab kicked off, focusing on collecting data from the building and its users. As part of this, we developed over 100 use cases including measuring light quality (flickering, illumination and daylight levels); acoustic comfort; hydrothermal comfort (temperature and humidity); and air change (CO2 levels and ventilation/ need for air change) and gathered feedback on how the users feel in the environment they work in or interact with.

The second phase, which focuses on getting insight from the data to improve asset performance and user experience, has now started.

Together with technology companies and academic institutes, we experiment, invent and validate various digital solutions to increase efficiency and sustainability, and technologies that improve employee experience, engagement and wellbeing – prior to scaling them up at the facilities of our customers. In this way, we can learn together, creating additional synergies or gaining deeper insight from gathered data.

A data report from user feedback about the communal space at Royal HaskoningDHV office in Amersfoort

A heatmap visualising occupancy data at Royal HaskoningDHV office in Amersfoort

Of course, we are looking to implement technologies developed at the Living Lab across entire buildings, but as we know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So we start small, with one scenario at a test scale, and we see how it works. In this way, we can quickly show our clients the benefits of these technologies, and determine the best ways of scaling them-up in the future.

The implementation of phase two is being carried out via an agile development track. Use cases from customers and solution providers are being identified and a scrum team is validating the feasibility of these upfront to determine if they can be implemented in live environments with real users.

To find out how the Living Lab can add value to your organisation, contact us now.

the Key takeaways

  • We have opened a user-centric Living Lab for the creation of smart built environments.
  • In a co-creation environment together with our customers, suppliers, knowledge and technology partners, we test and certify technologies that keep our clients ahead of the game.
  • We thoroughly validate use cases in real-life settings – real buildings with real people in real time - to ensure maximum impact.

Curious to learn how we can help you create a smart and healthy environment?

Contact us

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Onno Willemse
Global Business Director Smart & Healthy Environments
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Vincent Flick
Business Development Manager IoT & Smart Environments



Smart and Healthy Environments