The New Workplace
The one thing that stands out in this issue is the absence of tall buildings. Yes, there is the one high-rise office tower (The EY Centre) but this exception affirms a rule. We are having a love affair with the low-to-mid-rise office ‘ground-hugger’ (The New Workplace).
Health and well-being, we have known for some time. In the projects here, we see a reshaping of form to make room for trees, courtyards, water elements, landscaped walls and decks. The most elaborate of these is where the envelope becomes a living skin with plants, social spaces and circulatory pathways. The image on the cover is an office building in Nice, France, in a Mediterranean climate. Closer to home, where the weather is not always mild, the same strategy attempts to temper heat and noise.
The adaptive and collaborative workplace, likewise, has its roots in the 1990s, emerging from organisational theory. Spatial configurations, we were told, had to match work culture and processes. Hot-desking and home office are buzzwords. Organisations demand creative problem-solving, and this means circulation spaces designed for encounter, pods and niches for collaborative work, and fun spaces for downtime.
Sustainability is the third imperative. Let’s narrow this, for the sake of brevity, to energy where we typically start with the efficiency of mechanical-electrical systems, better envelope glazing, as well as a building that is compact and airtight to lower heat gains and infiltration losses. A lower office building, compared with a tower, has more area for greenery and social space; its ground can engage the city; its deep floor plates, punctuated by voids, offer variety and nuances in indoor-outdoor edge conditions that a tower simply cannot.
We would like to think these form ideas are here to stay. Check in again when we revisit the workplace in a future issue.