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Last edited 12 Feb 2021
Design quality indicator DQI
Design quality can be defined, prioritised and measured quite precisely, and criteria weighting can help in the appraisal of options, in particular where conflicting views exist amongst those carrying out the assessment. It is important that assessment of design quality is carried out in a structured, formal way, and the Design Quality Indicator (DQI) is one system for assessing and recording design quality at every stage of the construction process from conception through to completion.
DQI is a process that actively involves a wide group of stakeholders in the design of building. It is delivered through a facilitated workshop that enables representatives from both the demand and supply side to work together to achieve the best outcome.
The development of DQI was initiated by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) in 1999 as a response to the construction industry’s Movement for Innovation (M4i) initiative. [Note: M4i introduced concepts (such as key performance indicators) meant to improve industry performance and produce a better built environment. In 2003 M4i merged with several other groups to form Constructing Excellence (CE); CE subsequently merged with BRE in 2016.]
As with M4i, DQI was meant to resolve aspects of poor design within the built environment by providing “a balanced assessment of the building as a product” according to Sebastian Macmillan in the foreword to the 2003 book, Designing Better Building: Quality and Value in the Built Environment.. During the four years of its development, DQI was supported by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of Government Commerce, Constructing Excellence and the Strategic Forum of Construction.
In 2003, the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex developed and introduced an online tool. The traditional DQI was first made available in the US in 2006, and the online version was subsequently released in 2008.
DQI has been recognised by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) for its involvement of end users in the design process. It has also been acknowledged by BSRIA for its functionality and impact measures.
 The DQI process
- End users (or potential users).
- Building clients (or tenants).
- Facilities managers (or future facilities managers).
- Project managers.
- Quantity surveyors (Cost engineers).
- Structural and building services engineers.
All stakeholders are invited to undertake online exercises and participate in a series of interactive workshops that are overseen by an accredited independent facilitator. During the workshops, participants identify and establish design quality benchmarks as goals.
This process can result in several outcomes, including:
- Generating feedback and learning for future projects.
- Producing a simple graphic profile that indicates the strengths and weaknesses of a design or existing building.
- Providing an agenda for briefing and design reviews.
- Creating benchmarking information as a formal report.
- Helping to develop a more sustainable building.
 The significance of the accredited independent facilitator
DQI facilitators use their knowledge and experience to deliver the structure for workshop interactions and to analyse and interpret the outcomes. No other professionals are permitted to oversee the assessment stages.
By requiring an independent assessor, the process ensures the full involvement of the key stakeholders particularly in the discussion of the three essential qualities of DQI based on concepts that originated with Vitruvius:
- Functionality (Utilitas). The arrangement, quality and interrelationship of spaces and how the building is designed to be useful to all.
- Build Quality (Firmitas). The engineering performance of the building, which includes structural stability and the integration, safety and robustness of the systems, finishes and fittings.
- Impact (Venustas). The building’s ability to create a sense of place and have a positive effect on the local community and environment.
These qualities are seen as the areas where there is the potential for excellence. DQI has five stages that are examined over the lifecycle of the project. In order to achieve excellence, ambitions must be set as a team and monitored during each of the five stages. Completion of the DQI Stage 5, In-use stage workshop, can be used as part of the building’s Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) or Building Performance Evaluation (BPE).
There is a specific DQI tool for healthcare projects. It incorporated the general concepts of DQI along with specific aspects of the discontinued Achieving Excellence Design Evaluation Tool (AEDET). This tool was developed in collaboration with the UK Department of Health and piloted with NHS England.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building performance metrics.
- Building Research Establishment BRE.
- Building Services Research and Information Association BSRIA.
- Constructing Excellence.
- Constructing Excellence contract.
- Construction Industry Council.
- Design quality for buildings.
- Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management IWFM.
- Post occupancy evaluation of completed construction works.
- Post occupancy evaluation process.
- Quality objectives.
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