Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE): Tool for space standards improvement of indoor sports buildings in Algeria.

Dr. Ammar Korichi1,  Salah Eddine Krada2,  Youcef Laraba3
Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE

Abstract: Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is the primary method through which better buildings can be designed,  and  actually, ,  evaluation of building in use or POE is considered as an area of research priority in order to  improve in the built environment.
Within the Algerian context, the evidence indicated that many of the design and use problems of sports and recreation buildings were associated with the lack of evaluation studies in general and the paucity of information about design requirements. This has resulted in a lack of information feedback into the planning and design process.
The main purpose of this study is to provide set of recommendations to improve quality of indoor environment of sports and recreations buildings in Algeria.
In order to achieve this British experience on design and use of sports and recreation buildings was investigated.
Keywords: Post-occupancy evaluation POE, performance, indoor sports and recreation buildings.

1-  Introduction

In most advanced countries, Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is a well established technique for evaluating the performance of buildings. In fact, this concept of POE consists in a series of methods that allow evaluating both objectively and/or subjectively mostly occupied buildings to check upon the extent of their performance (Wolfgang F. E. Prieser, Harvey Z. Rabinowitz, and Edward T., (1988). Assessing building (both indoor and outdoor) environment allows checking the effective efficiency of the design, to correct as much as possible any deficiency, and most important avoid similar mistakes in future buildings. Post Occupancy Evaluation considers also a particular interest to building occupants and their needs and thus provides insights into the consequences of past design decisions and the resulting building performance Markus, T, and Broadbent,W, (1969.)
However, in Algeria this is not the case. The planning and design recommendations suggested for the provision of new centres were not drawn up and developed from information which derive from research into  users needs and design requirements for sports and leisure centres or evaluation of existing centres in use but simply from government decisions to promote sports and recreational activities.
This context is apparently related to the lack of time available for evaluation studies and research in the field, which may lead to the inefficiency and inadequacy of indoor environment of sports and recreational facilities.
  • Problem Statement
In Algeria for instance, a large program to provide new sports and recreation centers has been introduced and over a hundred new centers have been built in the last decade and others are actually planned throughout the whole country. Yet this program is based on the very limited information and guidance of design of different sports and leisure facilities. These kind of information and regulations concern partly space use and occupancy, design characteristics of different sports and leisure activities, layout and space relationships, size and shape of individual space, flexibility for change and growth, and maintenance and security of the centre.
The evidence indicated that there are a number of problems related to the appropriateness of sports and recreation buildings in terms of their planning and design. CNIDS Magasine, (2012),  Revue scientifique de l’Education Physique et Sportive, (2013).
These problems are mainly associated with the guidance for planning and design of sports and recreation centers. This guidance merely indicates the overall facilities to be provided. It lacks of detailed of information concerning design requirements.,
Yet adequate space provision for different activities is considered essential to ovoid the type of problem which occurs in existing Algerian sports and recreation buildings provided. They are in many cases unable to accommodate the range of desired activities.
Thus, clear detailed information about space standards for different sports activities and how they should be related together for sports and recreation is necessary.
In order to obtain this, experience in Britain of planning and design of sports and recreational centers were considered.
  1. Research Objectives
The objectives of this study are
  • To consider whether relevant British spaces standards for sports activities used within sports and recreation centers could be transferred to new sports and recreation centers in Algeria.
  • To suggest and recommend ways to improve indoor environment of sports and recreation centers in Algeria.
4-Research methodology
Thus, clear detailed information about space standards for different sports activities and how they should be related together for sports and recreation is necessary. In order to discover how to achieve this, British experience of the planning and design of sports and recreation buildings was investigated.
A three stage methodology was used to do this.
This was:
  • The investigation and identification from relevant literature of the main principles of provision and design of sports and recreations buildings in Britain.
  • The identification of space standards for activities within sports and recreation facilities built in Britain and an assessment of their adequacy in a sample of sports and recreation centers in use
  • The exploration and assessment of whether these space standards for activities are applicable to sports and recreation centers in Algeria, taking into account the differing social, cultural, economic and climatic context.
In order to carry out this investigation a limited case study approach was chosen. Two appropriate centers were identified in Oxfordshire (Great Britain) for this study. Both centers are provided at local level and managers of both centers showed interest and offered complete co-operation in carrying it out, Sports Council, (2010), Handbook of sports and recreational buildings, Indoor Sports, Architectural Press, London. Sports Council, (2012) , Konya Allan, (2003),
5- Literature review
Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is recognized and valued as a process that can improve, and help to explain, the performance of the built environment, Preiser (1988). Briefly, it’s a process of evaluating buildings in a systematic and precise way after they have been occupied for some time Zimring, C., Rashid, M., Kampschroer, K.,(2010).; Preiser et al. (1988); Gonzales et al. (1997). It is also characterized by a formal and comprehensive examination and evaluation of a building. These methods aim to study the effectiveness of designed environments from human user perspective. POEs are usable in different building types and buildings from various areas.
Also post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is acknowledged and longed-for as a process that can “enhance, and help to describe, the performance of the built environment “, (Preiser, 1989). Briefly, it’s a process of “evaluating buildings in a systematic and accurate way after they have been occupied for some time,     (Gonzales et al, 1997).
It is characterised by all-inclusive and yet thorough assessment of a building.  However, POE methods spin around the study of the efficiency lying in the users / environments interface. (Bechtel et. al. 1987).
POEs are more than “customer surveys”; they are absorbed in the profound building essence. It is obvious but this systematic investigation and analysis of the structure and relationships between design objectives and occupants’ experiences is taken into consideration in future development efforts.
Another way of looking is the verification purposes. We need to be sure that the intensions of the design have really become true.
We need to determine whether the finished building actually meets the specified attributes. Therefore, post occupancy evaluation methods are needed (Margulis 1996). As mentioned earlier, POEs are useful to everyone who comes into contact with a building. POE is a powerful diagnostic tool that allows people to learn about their past mistakes and successes alike (Preiser 1988).
The purpose of the POE tool helps practitioners to avoid repetitive mistakes. Evaluation and feedback are the cornerstones for the continuous improvement in building procurement. Good feedback is an intrinsic part of good briefing and design of buildings.
Preiser and Vischer argued that post occupancy evaluation concentrate mainly on user satisfaction. “It is essentially a systematic process guided by research covering human needs, building performance and facilities management”, (Preiser and Vischer 2005).
  • Need for Post Occupancy Evaluation Studies
As noted by Zimmerman and Martin, “The over-arching benefits from conducting POEs are the provision of valuable information to support the goal of continuous improvement”. Implicitly then, that conduction a POE within the Algerian context would become an urgent task in order to set forth any sound basis for enhancement of the quality of the built environment in relation to university facility,  (Zimmerman and Martin ,2001).
As will be discussed the opportunity to assess building performance versus design objectives. However a more essential, but equally forceful reason is the need to demonstrate a commitment to continuous quality improvement of both the project procurement process and its outputs.
Literature unveiled that Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is an important factor of the building process. (Preiser, 2002). There is logic to the argument that one purpose for the evaluation of buildings in-use must be the provision of essential feedback to inform future actions.
Post-occupancy evaluation (POE) is a diagnostic tool and system which allows facility managers to identify and evaluate critical aspects of building performance systematically.
This system has been applied to identify problem areas in existing buildings, to test new building prototypes and to develop design guidance and criteria for future facilities.
In the forgoing article we shall review the specialised literature in order to unveil some aspects relating to POE as a Performance Based Approach.
At thorough literature search undertaken for this purpose tends to pin out that at present, the debate about a one all encompassing definition on POE performance based approach is far from having found the consensus in both terms concepts and applicability alike. Nonetheless, literature evidence stressed that information gained from POEs can provide not only insights into problem resolution but also provide useful benchmark data with which other projects can be compared, (Stanley, L. 2001).
This shared learning resource provides the opportunity for improving the effectiveness of building procurement where each institution has access to knowledge gained from many more building projects than it would ever complete. In doing so, methods in current use and their relevance to the design of university building will be highlighted. Another concern along these lines will lie on the identification of major POE methods liable to enhance quality of the built environment.
International experience in the field of POE is opportunely taken into account for the sake of making better living and built environments. Furthermore, concepts and tools in current use are specifically discussed; this to underscore the venues capable to set forth a POE performance based approach framework in relation to meet evaluation objectives in relation to the forgoing topic, (Preiser and Vischer 2005).

  • Post Occupancy Evaluation Process.
The specialized literature brought to light three types of POE’s: Diagnostic, Indicative and Investigative. They all serve purposefully the enhancement of building performance. (Preiser, W., Rabinowitz, H., and White, E 1988)
POEs can be used no matter what is the building type? Whether applied on newly achieved buildings or on a retrofit basis, Zimring stated “that POEs are flexible enough namely in terms of: scale, resources, goals, methods, evaluator expertises, and evaluator interests”. Most POE’s are backboned on a four key drivers: defining goals, data collection, and data analysis and, Outcomes presentation. (Zimring et al. 1980).
Evidence driven from table 1 below tends to suggest that most POE’s methods hub around user satisfaction in both aspects: functional performance and building performance.
Table 1.: Overview of existing POE approaches
Designation MethodTools and techniques usedFocus
De Montfort method- Forum
- Walkthrough
Broadly covers the process review and functional performance
CIC Design Quality Indicators- QuestionnaireFunctionality, building quality/impact
Overall Liking Score- Questionnaire ; (Hardcopy/web based)
- 7 point scale
Occupant survey. Sectors incl. educational
Diagnostic tool
PROBE- Questionnaire/- Focus groups/- Visual surveys
- Energy assessment
- Evaluation Performance of systems
User satisfaction / occupant survey
Systems performance
Benchmarks developed
BUS Occupant survey- Building walk -through
- Questionnaire backed up by focus groups
Occupant satisfaction productivity
Energy Assessment
Reporting Methodology
- Energy use survey
- Data collection e.g. from energy bills
Energy use and potential savings
Learning from experience- Facilitated group discussions or interviewsTeam learning from its experience
In setting up any research programme, it is suggested to consider in general three main steps, Watson, C. (2003) Rabiniwitz, HZ, and Canter, D, (1986), S.S.B.R.T (2006).
  • Identification of methods of evaluation which could be applicable for the research programme.
  • Definition of criteria and standards for evaluation.
  • Definition of the scale of the evaluation programme.

- Evaluation Methods

The choice of strategy for evaluation is dependent on why and for whom it is being done, and the goals and objectives implied within the evaluation study itself. The approach will also be influenced by the type of environment being evaluated and by individual or group characteristics of the users.
Most studies of performance evaluation studies used a variety of methods examined and tested which often includes the use of measures or statements, observations, interviews ,questionnaires ,  documentation audits and technical monitoring. All these methods have a reasonable degree of validity and are generally suitable for use to assess the performance of buildings.
 The choice of appropriate methods, individually or combined, seems to depend on the particular problems studied, the specificity of situations produced and purpose of the evaluation study, Yin R. K. (1984), Rawilson, C (1988). Zeisel, J, (1986).
 - Evaluation Criteria
Conduction of a program of research and evaluation concerning sports recreational buildings requires a clear definition and identification standards and, criteria against which the buildings or spaces being studied can be evaluated.
The review of literature shows that due to the international character of sports and recreation buildings, it is possible to transfer techniques, norms and standards from other countries, but the transfer should be made by taking into account a number of factors such as cultural, religious, social and political context, this should be also combined within climate, organizational and institutional considerations, Rawilson, C, (2003).
However, in a first stage of the evaluation program, it is necessary to explore what criteria and technical design standards exist before starting the research program.
- Limit scope of investigation
The aim of initiating a limited scope of investigation helps clarify and highlight the different aspects that are subject to evaluation research program.
To achieve an effective program of evaluation, it is necessary to employ qualified personnel. This category of staff should not only be experienced but also specialized in the design of sports and recreation buildings.
 Although the field of investigation of the research program and initial assessment is limited, it would acquire a considerable experience on which, future programs a wider scale could be achieved in the country.
This will be a rigorous scientific and operational research which can help to identify possible solutions to improve the situation of sports and recreational buildings in the country.

6- Analysis and Findings (Case study)

The aim of the case study is to examine British space provision for facilities for sports and recreation in use in order to make recommendations for similar provision in Algeria.
To do this, first, the British size and type appropriate to Algerian indoor sports centers is identified, and second, a sample of British sports and recreation centers of similar size are selected for detailed study.
The new guide - lines for providing sports and recreation facilities issued by the Algerian Ministry of Sports proposed that sports and recreation centers should serve local and neighborhood areas. These centers should constitute the focal points within the surrounding residential areas as part of a complex consisting of schools, shops and public buildings. The Algerian government aims to provide such sports and recreation centers for every 20,000 people, Ministry of youth and sports, (2010).
Sports and recreation centers in Britain range from large, complex leisure centers to small community centers. Each type is intended to serve a certain number of people, with the size and concentration of population varying from regional and sub-regional to small communities.
Local leisure end recreation centers are provided for a population of 2,000 to 25,000. They offer facilities which are intended to much the character of local and neighborhoods needs.
The sports council refers to this type of centers as a “Small sports and recreation centers”. They are either combined with a secondary school or integrated with other neighborhood facilities such as residential areas, and public facilities.
Therefore, this type of sports facilities seems most similar to the centers which be provided at local level in Algeria.
Hence the detailed study and the choice of sample of centers in Britain will concentrate on local sports and recreation centers.
Examination of literature and design guidance for Small sports and recreation centers  provided by the British sports council showed that the sports hall is the largest and the primary space for activity in the centers, around which other secondary spaces such as ancillary  and social areas are integrated, Sports Council, (2012).
These sports halls are provided in three main types. The most frequently advocated is the largest hall of the three, measuring 32m long, 17 m wide and 7 to 7.6m high.
The sports council suggested that it is possible to accommodate a range of sports in the main sports hall as shown in table 2.

Table: 2 possible sports to be accommodated in small sports hall
  Badminton                  4 sets of posts, 4 nets, 2 spare nets
Basketball              Scoring equipment Officials table / chairs Team benches   Portable baskets (if no fixed goals)
Bowls          4 short mat carpets, rolled, each 1.83 long x up to 0.5 m  diameter
Cricket                 Roll out mats (to ECB Standards for the particular sports hall)
Five-a-side                1 pair portable goals with anchor points, each anchor points, each 3.66 / 4.99 x 1.20 m
football / Futsal
Handball                     1 pair goals, each 3 x 2 m
Hockey                      1 pair goals, each 3 x 2m
Gymnastic                    * Range of apparatus with anchorage points and anchorage points
                                       and anchorage points and floor mats
Judo/karate             Mats, each 2 x 1m (full 14 x 14 m matted area with an 8 x 8 m combat area requires 98 mats)
Netball                          1 pair adjustable posts, each 3.05 m high
Table tennis                  6 tables, folded, each 1.855 x 1.830 x 0.65 m, nets and supports Team benches 2
Trampoline              * 2 folding trampolines, each4.60 / 5.20 m x 2.75 / 3.05 m x 2.25 / 2.00 m high when folded
 Volleyball                     Posts* and nets / officials table /chairs
Source: Sports Council, (2012), Design guide, sports halls and layouts, updated and combined guidance, February revision Sports Council, London,
In order to carry out this investigation, a limited case study approach was chosen.
During preliminary visits to a number of sports and recreation centers of this type, it was noticed that only a few of activities suggested by the sports council appeared to take place in the main sports hall.
Therefore, four aims were defined for the case study, there were to:
  • 1- Investigate whether the activities recommended by the sports council are played in the sample of centers, and if not, to identify the reason for this.
  • 2- Examine whether the space allowed for sports played are different from the minimum space standards recommended by the governing bodies of these sports.
  • 3- Investigate how the size of courts provided affects the way sports are played and identify those activities which cannot be played adequately due to the size of the sports hall.
  • 4- Identify any advantages or disadvantages in the design of the different facilities provided in the centre, and assess how these affect the user of the centre.
Before undertaking the evaluation study of the centers, literature review of  approaches and methods of collecting data and design criteria  of sports and recreation centers were  carried out ,(Cohen,L, and Manion, 1994),  (Sochman,E 1984), (Oppenheim, A, 199), sports council, Design guide (2012),.
On the basis of this, the following five stage method was defined and implemented.
  • Choice of sample
From the literature review and contact with the sports council and regional offices of the sports council, a number of indoor sports centers of the appropriate size were identified. Preliminary contacts and visits to these centers were made to select those which met the criteria for the evaluation study. Two appropriate centers were found for this study. Both centers are provided at local level in fairly small towns with populations respectively of 14.000 and 8, 3000 recorded in 2012 (Interview with officials of Oxford county council, June 2012),  and have a main sports hall which is 32m long,17m wide and 6.7 m and 7.6m high. Managers of both centers showed interest in the project and offered complete co-operation in carrying it out.
  • Interviews with the manager of the centre
Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with the manager of each centre in order first, to identify the range of sports activities played in them. The list of sports activities identified was compared with the suggested list provided by the sports council. Two groups of activities were defined; those actually offered by the centre and those which could take place in theory, but where not offered by the centre. During the interviews with managers, the reasons for the rejection of activities were identified. The sports activities played in the centers were also divided into two main categories, those played in the main hall, and those played in order spaces such as ancillary halls. A second reason for interviewing the managers was to identify any problems on conveniences related to the actual space standards allocated to the ancillary accommodation.
  • Measurement of plan
This step involved first, the measurement of spaces provided for activities and the identification of those played in the sports hall which appeared to be below minimum space standards recommended by the governing bodies of specific sports. These measurements were compared with the dimensions recommended by the governing bodies of specific sports in order to discover whether the mismatch occurred in the length, width and /or height of the spaces provided. Second, measurements of spaces provided for the small hall and the ancillary accommodation. These measurements were compared with guide dimensions given by the sports council.
  • Interviews with participants, trainers and coaches

Semi structured interviews were conducted with indoor sports participants, trainers, coaches and teachers in order to identify first, any problems, difficulties or inconveniences related to the actual space standards allocated to the activities, second, any other features of the built environment which adversely affected the playing of an activity and third,  the actual space standards allocated to the small hall and the ancillary accommodation such as the changing areas and the social facilities.
Observations were made of sports activities played in the main hall in order to identify any inconvenience or difficulty experienced by players in the game due to the location of the activity in the main hall and in the space provided for it.
  • Research study-stage 1:
The first step of this research study was to investigate whether all sports activities recommended on the sports council’s list are played in the two centers. Where it was found that sports were not played, reasons for this were identified. In order to achieve this, interviews with the managers of the centers were carried out.  The findings from these are presented from both centers.
From the first stage of the research study, a number of factors were identified which affected use by the sports suggested by the sports council as suitable to be accommodated within the centre.
These factors were classified into four groups, they are:
  • A lack of local interest rinsing from an absence of clubs or coaches and trainers of activities, lack of public enthusiasm for the activity or awareness of the activity.
  • Location of the centre if it sited near other existing sports facilities. These could attract participants and so reduce their use of the centre, thus affecting the activity concerned.
  • Inadequacy of the facility caused by the inappropriateness of the sports hall in terms of design( size, environmental services, finishes and construction) which could affect the activity to be played.
  • Management and organization of the centre in terms of programming of different activities, and organization tournaments. Running costs which influence the hiring of courts and equipments could affect the activity to be played.
  • Research study- stage 2:
The next part of the research examined whether the space allowed for sports played is at or below the minimum space standards recommended by their governing bodies. This involved first, the identification of the sports played in the main sports hall and their minimum space standards recommended by the governing bodies of specifique sports and second measurement of the spaces allocated to these activities in the two sample centers.  These were compared with the dimensions recommended by the governing bodies of each sport in order to identify whether dimensions of the spaces allocated matched the recommended dimensions.
Finally participants, trainers and coaches were interviewed and observations of the activities in progress were made.
The second stage of the research study identified factors which affected adequate play of sports accommodated within the sports hall. These are mainly related to the play of sports activities within different sizes of sports halls which in general influence the degree of satisfaction of users.
From examination of the literature concerned with the transfer of building design between countries in order to improve indoor quality environment, it appears that there is a general agreement that it can be most inappropriate to transfer and impose design-related concepts from one country to another without understanding and making clear the cross-cultural factors which might affect the design in use, (Walcott,H,1 999), (Gruse, G,2006),  (Spence, B, 1983).
This warning is most relevant to developing countries which often apply western design concepts and buildings techniques without any consideration of how these will integrate into their own context, which has resulted inadequate and/or inappropriate buildings.
From the exploration  and study of the development of design trends of different types of sports and recreation centers provided in Britain, it was found that the size most appropriate and relevant to the provision of sports and recreation centers in Algeria were small sports centers,.
The British small sports and recreation centers are characterized by the provision of a sports hall which is the primary space for activity in the centre, around which other secondary spaces such as ancillary halls and social areas are located. Superficially, it would seem that there would be no difficulty in transferring the space standards for activities used in these centers for use in sports and recreation centers in Algeria, because of the international character of space standards used for sports and recreational activities.
Other key factors which emerged from this study are the need to consider climatic conditions of the country, the type of the activities to be accommodated, their relationship to the cultural aspects of the country, and the system of organization which deals with the provision of such facilities.
  • Conclusion and Recommendations
The main purpose of this study is to provide recommendations to improve quality of indoor environment and to establish   a framework for the process of Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) program of sports and recreations buildings in Algeria.
In order to achieve this British experience on design and use of sports and recreation buildings was investigated.
A case of two British small sports centers in use examined the relationship between space standards for a combination of activities and user requirements. A number of related factors affecting the appropriate use of the centers were identified. First, there was user dissatisfaction with the level of play that could be achieved on courts with space standards below the minimum recommended by their governing bodies.
Second, Lack of local interest or awareness, or enthusiasm for activities, third, the absence of clubs, coaches or trainers for some activities, fourth, the location of the centre in relation to other sports facilities, and fifth, inadequacy of facilities in terms of design, management and organization of the centre.
The study found that in theory the transfer of British space standards to sports and recreation centers in Algeria should be possible, but there are factors which have to be taken into consideration before this transfer can be made. There are first, the climate, second, cultural differences in terms of type of sports played in each country, and third, organizational structures.
The recommendations proposed are divided into three groups, Activity planning considerations, building accommodation which included size of multipurpose hall and other supplementary facilities, and organizational structures.
Carrying out a POE on this type of buildings will enabled lessons to be learnt and taken into account for future developments, which in turn will save time and money and provide for more cost-effective and efficient projects in the future.
Therefore it is recommended that a monitoring a research program based on the post-occupancy evaluation POE should be established to provide feedback into programming of new and similar projects in Algeria and ensure that problems identified in the centers are not repeated in the design of futures centers.

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