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A new benchmark for architecture rises with the quantification of social impact

Amongst the ever-shifting landscape of architecture and design, a new paradigm is taking root – one which places more emphasis on the relationship between design and quality of life than ever before.

A new benchmark for architecture rises with the quantification of social impact

Despite the growing industry push towards social design thinking, there are still no quantitative tools in place to measure the social value of projects in Australia. Hayball, an architectural powerhouse with four decades of innovation, is breaking new ground in a partnership with the Australian Social Value Bank (ASVB).

The pair are teaming up to measure and quantify the social value of their projects – pushing design’s impact beyond aesthetics and into the gritty realities of everyday life. With a project portfolio centred on social value, Hayball is known for having a community-focused approach. Think Nightingale Village and Developer, for example, for which Hayball was executive architect; or as design architect for the innovative CRT+YRD building. The ultimate goal? To distil the magic of design into hard numbers, merging qualitative insights with monetary value.

In a world fixated on the flat numbers of economic worth, this partnership seeks a national antidote. Together, Hayball and ASVB aim to conceptualise an industry-first measurement framework which will showcase the impact of design on lives and communities – merging qualitative data and monetary value. As the federal government gradually shifts focus from GDP to wellbeing, Hayball and ASVB’s initiative rides the wave of change, demanding an industry-wide revolution for the benchmark of project evaluation.

This is more than numbers; it’s about influencing the future. By crafting a tool that highlights the fusion of design brilliance, social impact, and financial weight, Hayball is daring the industry to redefine success.

“Our ultimate goal with this study is to have a framework and measurement tool that can be utilised across sectors for comparison and engagement with our peers in the Australian architecture and design industry. We hope that the pilot study of CRT+YRD in the Nightingale Village will start a meaningful conversation around measuring social value,” says Hayball’s co-managing principal, Sarah Buckeridge.

Related: The magic of Nightingale

Working collaboratively with the ASVB, Hayball is crunching numbers and tweaking questions. They’re putting their project, CRT+YRD, under the microscope, analysing all things human. Using a set of industry-specific questions and calculations, the pilot study will leverage post-occupancy data from CRT+YRD’s inhabitants to assess whether the project achieved its social goals; exploring everything from community engagement and feelings of safety to housing adaptability. It’s all aimed at creating a blueprint for transforming spaces into centres of social value.

ASVB’s executive officer Min Seto continues: “It’s exciting to see the measurement of social value progressing within architecture in Australia; it will mean that impacts on the wellbeing of people and the planet will be considered from the very beginning of projects, in the design phase. This partnership will pave the way for a useful framework to improve our spaces and places for society.”

Tom Jordan and Sarah Buckeridge.

Hayball’s novel approach is certainly turning heads and it raises all sorts of questions, not least philosophical ones about the value and meaning of socially orientated design. We continue the discussion with Hayball’s Eilish Barry here – join us as we dig a little deeper into the fascinating and complex questions that this report throws up.



Tom Ross (Nightingale Village)

We think you might also like this profile of Austin Maynard Architects, part of the collaboration on Nightingale.

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