This is the age of choice. Across sectors, business is focused on user experience. UX is key.

‘Efficiency’ as just one part of the real estate picture. It’s important – but rewarding, productive use is central to successful performance. ZZA’s focus is user experience – buildings and spaces that work for people. That work well. That feel relevant, comfortable and pleasing. This is UX:Space.

ZZA’s specialism is Design Anthropology. Based on social science and built environment disciplines, we apply deep knowledge and well-grounded insights to help shape effective places. This is the basis of UX:Space.

We inject UX:Space wherever we enter a project cycle – at the start, in design evolution, and following completion. Our strategic work covers concept and vision, purpose and function, contextual opportunities, transformation, and design review. Our evaluations focus on three key stages – on design information before construction, on buildings in use, and on project process. Our outputs provide skilled research, experienced judgement, and steers for action. We’re proud showcase assignments illustrating these services.




ZZA’s input at project start helps client teams raise the bar. Our rigorous user studies, expert evaluations, and extensive experience in judging awards have generated rich knowledge of building use and design solutions. We know what works in practice and know what doesn’t. Our cultural focus and grasp of trends afford perceptive anticipation of evolving norms and new opportunities. We’ve input to important schemes that have shifted practice and been acclaimed. And our global involvement gives access to a wide repertoire of imaginative ideas and transferable examples.

ZZA’s strategic commissions support project teams in defining objectives and reviewing design evolution. Our distinctive input of UX:Space injects a knowledgeable perspective of future building users, proposes value-adding content, and references relevant approaches that have worked elsewhere – all helping ensure that the project’s realisation best serves client aspirations.

We’re skilled in engagement to effect transformation – demonstrating what new approaches can offer, forging appreciation of potential solutions outside people’s existing experience, and enlisting the buy-in that poises projects to succeed.

Strategy case studies

© Keith Paisley

ZZA is recognised for our instructive evaluations.

Our Pre-evaluations apply ZZA’s deep knowledge of user experience to review project proposals before finalisation, identifying opportunities to enhance value and performance in use.

Our Process Evaluations examine how projects evolve. Engaging with members of the client, design and construction teams, we identify successful practices to repeat, and potential for programme, cost, and quality improvements – on future phases and subsequent projects.

Our Post Occupancy Evaluations POEs – appraise buildings and spaces through the lens of their users. ZZA’s POEs cover new build and adapted legacy buildings, pilot transformations, interiors, buildings and campuses. We tailor every POE to the specifics of the building and its occupancy, obtaining representative data from the range of people who use the spaces in different ways. To evaluate technical services, we partner with M+E specialists.

ZZA delivers clear, well-integrated reports, with metric and qualitative data, skilled interpretation, and evidence-based steers for action.

Evaluation case studies

© Dennis Gilbert / O’Donnell+Tuomey



Every building user has a wider life. Context is key in determining buildings’ functions and performance. ZZA has always engaged with fundamental themes of how we live, work and build. Our work reflects this profound involvement with cultural trends and spatial content. This underpins UX:SPACE.

Technology continually changes what we do. In today’s agile world, we are less tied to fixed place, but physical space remains as important – and in some ways more so.

ZZA’s holistic approach to UX:SPACE promotes relevant design, building appeal, and user wellbeing and satisfaction.

© João Nogueria/House of Beautiful Business

© João Nogueria/House of Beautiful Business


Starting with Ziona’s early publications – ‘Fathers, Mothers and Others’, and ‘Leisure Provision and People’s Needs’, through all ZZA’s workplace studies, we recognise what users want, and what organisations require of built settings. With UCL’s Bartlett School, we produced ‘Getting it together: The work-life agenda and offices’, and ‘Family-friendly offices: The policy, practice and legislative context’. Our white paper, ‘Liveable lives: Office Push and Pull’, highlights workplace pulls and pushes, proposing beneficial solutions.

‘Why Place Still Matters in the Digital Age’ reports seminal research with nearly 18,000 people from over 60 countries on their use of hub and co-work space, evidences the influence of the home-work interface in steering workplace preferences. Our extensive research with students on university spaces affords live awareness of next generation trends.

‘The Physical Workplace and Work-Life Balance: Perspectives from Practice’ draws on ZZA’s research in examining place, technology and work-life as a triangulation in flux, with commentary on the implications of economic austerity.



Activity-based working

Work is not a place, and workplace doesn’t equal ‘office’. ZZA’s research sees past physical settings, to understand the activities involved. UX:SPACE informs appropriately scoped provisions, aligned with what people actually do, and where they do it best – in buildings, on the move, remotely.

Our work with clients like PwC, Cisco, the BBC and Lloyds Register highlights the benefits of effective settings and support – inside and external to corporate space. This includes effective design for interaction and collaboration – based on empirical knowledge of conditions that foster productive synergies, rather than wishful thinking about chance encounters.

‘Shaping London’s Workspace: User Culture’ leverages ZZA’s research knowledge to give Ziona’s view of what workers want today, centering on ‘Six C’s’, starting with choice.




Change is fast, but built assets have longer life cycles, resulting in space and activities that are often out of sync. Too much space, in the wrong place. The wrong space – in configuration, quality, amenity, look and feel. These are wasted resources. And with people so important in the value equation, there’re notable opportunity costs when space is mismatched to activity and culture. Motivation and engagement flag when space lacks buzz.

With ZZA’s systematic focus at the intersection of people, physical and virtual space, we understand the factors at play. As well as corporate clients, we have worked with government and public agencies, including House of Commons, DWP, and DVLA, to develop strategies for smarter working.

UX:SPACE frames effective scope as centred on space and people. Our studies generate evidence to identify untapped scope, and steer well conceived transitions. Our report: ‘Increased Productivity at Lower Cost’, distils ZZA’s evaluations of major workplace transformations by BT and Birmingham City Council, highlighting the significant benefits these organisations achieved through portfolio reduction.

© Martine Hamilton Knight / Builtvision

© Martine Hamilton Knight / Builtvision

Study & learning

While technology re-shapes study and learning, physical space – in schools, universities, libraries, cafés, workplaces and other collective places has grown in importance for individual study and collaborative, group learning.

Informal and formal learning environments feature strongly in ZZA’s research. Our briefing and post occupancy research in libraries, study areas, teaching space and informal settings, identify factors that support knowledge transfer. Our evidence covers design, functional content, space management, curation and ambience – all key aspects of UX:SPACE, relevant to effective provision and influencing user choice.

ZZA is a member of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum. Our briefing research covers library, research, teaching and social settings. Ziona’s chapter in Saw Swee Hock: The Realisation of the London School of Economics Student Centre describes ZZA’s post occupancy evaluation of this acclaimed building. Following this, we evaluated the LSE’s innovative informal learning space, LSE Life.


© Jim Stephenson / Grimshaw Architects

Community & co-work

With almost ubiquitous connectivity, individuals’ choice of location has never held more sway. ZZA’s international study on hub space researched this question: Where do people who can choose, choose to work? Our report ‘Why Place Still Matters in the Digital Age’, describes the locational, motivational, economic and social factors that steer their decisions. It highlights the forceful preference to work alongside other people who’re also working. This drives the huge growth in co-work, now offering users great variety in location, design, servicing, price and cultural feel. It also opens strategies for owners to commodify surplus space. ZZA’s work with San Francisco based LiquidSpace evaluated the elements of user choice offered on this online marketplace.

There is a growing impetus to activate community in buildings and on campuses. Based on ZZA’s incremental knowledge from user research at Stockley Park, Chiswick Park, the BBC, and input to Kings Place. ZZA’s strategic role on the development of Kings Place in London’s Kings Cross helped shape this game-changing building that combines commercial workspace with culture, leisure, and an open access hub, meeting contemporary aspirations for community, buzz and mixed use. Ziona’s book ‘Energy People Place: Sustainable Urban Paradigm’ presents the distinctive scope and outcomes.

ZZA were commissioned to research uses for the publically accessible space at the base of the Cheesegrater, and evaluate UX:SPACE in the non-office settings and space between the buildings at Regent’s Place.

© João Nogueria/House of Beautiful Business


Intelligent & green

Energy efficiency is central to sustainability, but ZZA champions a wider perspective. Our work with progressive clients like Parabola at Kings Place and Hines at Fort Halstead is geared at optimising commercial, usage and social value.

ZZA has had extensive engagement with ‘green and intelligent’ thinking in Asia – including successive expert deliberations of PR China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and co-leading the Urban Planning and Design stream of the UK-China study to Progress Eco-city Policies into Mainstream Chinese Practice.

Academic activity includes Ziona’s lecturing to University of Hong Kong’s Masters in Interdisciplinary Design Management, the Masters in Intelligent Design for the Built Environment at Cambridge University, and the National Association of Built Environment Quality In Brazil. Her chapter in the foundational textbook on Intelligent Buildings focuses on ‘The Culture of Living and Working’. The update, ‘The Changing Culture of Living and Working: Physical and Virtual Modalities’, describes the profound influence of evolving technology on intelligent design and use. She has presented numerous papers on tall buildings and sustainability, including ‘Tall Building Design and Sustainable Urbanism: London as Crucible’.

Ziona was on the steering committee to develop the SKA Rating System, and actively engaged in the Ecological Sequestration Trust’s early mission to measure resource flows using an agent-based model in India, Africa, China, India and Europe.


© Taru


ZZA’s assignments span multiple sectors, covering a wide range of functions and building types. The breadth gives empirical insight on commonalities and differences, and opportunities for useful transfer of strategies and solutions.

‘Buildings that Feel Good’ shares ZZA learning. The book’s 20 exemplars analyse of transport, industry, office, leisure, sport, retail and theatre buildings, with pointers for briefing and design.

We are proud to share examples of our work in the following sectors: Universities,  Media , Government,  Finance,  Police,  Technology, Property, Professional services

Sector case studies