Open Design simulation

The focus of Binnekamp's analysis of this case was whether the application of Open Design methodology could have prevented many of the disappointing results. He focused his analysis on two process related aspects: Goal setting (Aspect 1) and Conflict resolution (Aspect 3), and on one structure related aspect: Standardisation (Aspect 10).

An extensive Open Design simulation of the overall multi-stakeholder decision making process was made. The assumption was that the failure was not so much the result of budget overruns and under-realisation of anticipated functional output (number of accommodated people), but of the way new emerging insights and user demands had been incorporated and combined in new office designs and upgrading measures.

Starting from the initial objectives and constraints, an integral floor space optimisation model including construction costs was made to establish an overall solution space for the renovation project. And within this space a possibility of various combinations of sub-solutions was studied. This model allowed the various steps taken in reality to be simulated and analysed.

The simulations soon made it clear that the accommodation of 1100 people would never have been feasible. In due time, the organisation of the user had changed: more highly placed executives had to be accommodated, requiring more floor space per person. Accommodating 1100 people of the Ministry would imply that certain parts of the user's organisation would have to be transferred elsewhere.

It was also found that the selection of main dimensions for corridors and office rooms had a great impact on the functional output of the building. Alternative layouts could offer impressive improvements in terms of functional output over cost. How could it happen that these efficient alternative layouts were overlooked? To a large extent this was caused by the concept of 'divisional losses' (Fig. 6.3). This concept entails evaluating office floor surfaces against the floor space norms of the Rijks Gebouwen Dienst (RGD). 'Divisional loss' means a difference between the designed layout and the numerical floor-space capacity calculated using these norms. A floor space norm is a highly misleading term since these 'norms' actually constitute empirical averages of existing buildings.

The architect's answer to the 'divisional loss' criticism was to utilise the 'redundant' spaces for storage (Fig. 6.4). Trading-off with spaces for traffic and minimise on the aggregated difference between actual lay-out and calculated floorspace use based on the norms, as done in the Open Design simulation, was not considered.

The simulation allowed the assessment of the consequences of relaxing relevant objectives, specifications, and constraints, in particular the number of people, the area office space, and the total budget for renovation. Table 8 summarises the results that were most relevant to the owner.

The conclusion was that the Open Design approach on the aspects of non-fixed goals (Aspect 1), less standardisation (Aspect 10), and aiming at synthesis based on valid information of experts (Aspect 3), could have provided a building accommodating more people and requiring substantially lower energy consumption, hence lower costs, at only half of the price actually paid.

Figure 6.3 'Divisional loss' according to RGD norm (Binnekamp, 1995, p. 23)
Figure 6.4 Architect's answer to 'divisional loss' criticism (Binnekamp, 1995, p. 23)
Table 6.1 Comparison initial plan - realisation - Open Design simulation for former KLM head office

Plan at start Realisation Open Design simulation

Number of person accommodated 1 102 853 Energy cost per year (C1 000) 59 66 (estimated) Investment (C million) 10.22 14.55

916 54 7.27

Table 6.2 Application of best practices in renovation of former KLM head office



1. Goal setting fixed vs. floating


3. Conflict resolution compromise vs. synthesis


8. Divisions of tasks job descriptions vs. roles


10. Standardisation where possible vs. where functional


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Crushing Your Goals and Achieving Success

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