Statement presented on 4 May 2019 in Innsbruck (Austria) on the occasion of the ACE conference “How to Achieve Quality in the Built Environment: Quality assurance tools and systems”
While there is a broad consensus on the fact that a high-quality built environment impacts positively on people’s everyday lives, it can prove difficult for public authorities, project developers and built environment professionals to assess and guarantee the quality of the buildings and urban spaces they commission and design.
The intention of this Statement is to propose reflections on the concept of quality in the built environment and shed light on good practices for its assessment. It is meant as a contribution to the work of the future Expert Group on High-quality Architecture and Built Environment for Everyone, for which provision is made in the Council’s Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022.
Quality in the built environment draws its meaning from the context and is therefore different every time. Quality is also, to a certain extent, dependent on the perception of the beholder. Stakeholders in a project (developer, designer, user, etc.) may assess the quality of a place in different ways as they do not have the same requirements of or attitudes towards the built environment and do not all attach the same value to the various features that characterise a quality place.
Designing a high-quality built environment is a creative and innovative process whose final outcome has a fundamental impact on how people perceive, function and behave. Quality makes a direct contribution to our everyday lives and should be considered as an agent of change.
The complexity of the concept of quality in the built environment, makes it difficult to assess whether quality is actually achieved. Beyond the outcomes, it is important to think about the process: quality places can only be the outcome of quality processes.