February 14, 2017
There is a typically telling and intelligent Pixar moment in the film A Bug’s Life in which an already well lubricated mosquito goes up to a bar and orders a ‘Bloody Mary, O Positive’. The barman plonks a droplet of blood down on the bar. The mosquito sinks his proboscis into it, sucks it down in one go and promptly falls over. The main point is that the mosquito doesn’t need a glass because that is for animals that have a problem with gravity. For insects the major force in their lives isn’t gravity at all, but surface tension. The cleverness of the illustrators lies in them seeing this from the perspective of an insect when most of us ignore this kind of thing because our day to day lives are completely dominated by the invisible forces that define not only how we function but the form of our bodies and how we look and behave. As the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould put it, “we are prisoners of the perceptions of our size”.
January 23, 2017
Visitors to Barcelona may still see Jean Nouvel’s iconic, phallic Agbar Tower as a welcome sight on the city’s skyline, but the building is less loved by its owners and tenants according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Pais. Inaugurated in 2005, the 34-storey skyscraper has been sold twice in three years as tenants have vacated and plans drawn up to either refurbish it or turn it into a hotel. The latest plan from new owners Merlin Properties is to spend €13 million on a refurbishment that will include a multi-occupier space for companies working in Barcelona’s thriving tech sector, centred on the Innovation District that is home to the Torre Agbar. The refurb aims to deal with the most common complaints from previous tenants which, according to the report, include a dysfunctional doughnut shaped layout, poor sightlines, inappropriate location, small windows with no view, inadequate shutters and an unwillingness to work in a building with such an overwhelming brand identity. Image: Ralf Roletschek
December 26, 2016
The Winter 2016 issue of Work&Place is now available to view online. In this edition… Neil Usher, Workplace Director at Sky offers a first hand account of the story behind the firm’s remarkable new offices at the Osterley campus in London; Kate Langan explores some of the implications of the growing digitisation of the workplace; Jim Ware looks at how the challenge of creating effective meeting spaces is now a strategic concern; John Blackwell tries to make sense of falling productivity levels when we have all the tools and know how to increase it; David Woolf makes the case for designing better collaborative spaces; Mark Eltringham looks forward to an almost entirely unpredictable future for workplaces in the 21st Century; and Karen Plum and Andrew Mawson set out the factors that drive knowledge worker productivity. The PDF edition is available to view and download here. Or view online here.
November 21, 2016
According to the winning entries of the Tomorrow’s Workplace design competition from Staples Business Advantage and Metropolis magazine, in 2021 the workplace may include inflatable pods set up in urban parks, or young professionals working alongside active retirees in a setting that resembles a small town more than an office building. The contest was hosted by Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, and architecture magazine Metropolis. “The massive corporate office tower, usually a glass box with central air pumped in, is turning into the dinosaur from the 20th century,” said Susan S. Szenasy, publisher and editor in chief, Metropolis. “Workplaces will become more multi-generational and multi-functional, fostering communities in the process. With the many changes in how and where we work, one thing is sure—today’s office is not your father’s or mother’s office.”
November 10, 2016
Features such as baristas, sky terraces and fine dining will continue a process of transformation at the workplaces of Australia’s leading law firms over the next few years, claims a study by Melbourne based architecture practice Bates Smart. The report claims that the legal workplaces of today are are already unrecognisable compared to what was considered typical yesterday, having more in common with a five star hotel than a traditional office. Bates Smart predicts an even greater shift towards flexibility, collaboration and hospitality from legal firms in the future with the publication of four key findings in its new whitepaper, The Legal Workplace 2020, The report analyses trends in over 135,000 sq. m. of legal practice workplaces and draws conclusions that are indicative of key trends for law firms and the wider market alike.
October 13, 2016
Think Tank New London Architecture (NLA) which creates a forum for debate on the built environment, has launched its findings and recommendations from its landmark WRK / LDN Insight study on work and workplaces in London. NLA calls on central government, the Mayor of London and other stakeholders in the capital to act to maintain the capital’s position as a preeminent commercial centre. The report claims that, as the digital economy continues to expand, new suppliers of workspace are rapidly emerging – from co-working providers to ‘fab labs’, makerspaces, incubators and innovation centres. The insight study concludes that the affordable business space that currently supports these industries is at risk. London needs new innovative mixed-use models of city planning to support these changes and adapt to the changing world of work.
October 6, 2016
Norwich’s The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia has been named as the Best of the Best workplace at the British Council for Offices’ (BCO) annual National Awards in London. The office was also recognised as the Best Corporate Workplace in the UK, joining a list of six other award winners recognised for excellence in office space. The BCO’s National Awards programme recognises top quality office design and functionality and sets the standard for excellence across the office sector in the UK. The University of East Anglia’s The Enterprise Centre was praised by judges for showcasing low carbon and sustainable design at its best. Judges commented that the workplace offered a wide range of highly flexible accommodation with incubation and collaborative spaces for new and developing businesses in a building equipped to deliver for the 21st century.
September 20, 2016
Despite substantial investment in new technology over recent years, the construction industry is struggling to realise the full benefits of key technologies including advanced data and analytics, mobility, automation and robotics. That’s the main finding from Building a technology advantage – Global Construction Survey 2016, the annual state-of-the-industry report from KPMG International. Of the 200-plus senior construction executives who took part in the survey, just 8 percent of their companies rank as “cutting edge technology visionaries,” while 64 percent of contractors and 73 percent of project owners rank as “industry followers” or “behind the curve” when it comes to technology. Two-thirds of survey respondents believe project risks are increasing. According to Armstrong, this is an industry ripe for disruption, yet less than 20 percent of respondents say they are aggressively disrupting their business models.
September 5, 2016
Most Londoners think tall buildings should only be built in areas like the City and Canary Wharf, and that there should be limits on how high they can be, according to an IPSOS Mori survey carried out on behalf of the Skyline Campaign. The findings come after Westminster Council controversially gave the green light for a 30 storey tower to be built in Paddington, and show stark differences in the views of Londoners in the inner and outer boroughs about how this new generation of tall buildings is affecting the Capital. The survey of more than 500 Londoners finds almost half (49 percent) of residents of inner London boroughs think that the 270 tall buildings planned, proposed, or under construction in London is too many. This contrasts with 34 percent of people in outer boroughs who say the same. Latest data released after the research was conducted indicates more than 400 new tall buildings are planned, proposed or under construction.
August 24, 2016
The enduring struggle to improve the working conditions and performance of people through the design and management of workplaces carries more than a whiff of the Enlightenment, a period in which pure reason was seen by its proponenst as more than enough to convince the world of the ways in which we could improve the human condition. It’s a battle that was won in some ways but which continues to endure to this day, as you can tell from the very existence of the latter day evangelists of reason such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Yet one of the issues with arguments based on pure reason is that they leave gaps regarding abstract notions such as love and beauty. When it comes to workplace design the idea of beauty seems pretty important. Yet the very notion that an attractive workplace will make people happier and more productive seems to assume that we can agree on what is attractive in the first place.
August 11, 2016
A new report from Allied Market Research claims that the worldwide market for Building Information Modelling will grow by over a fifth to hit $11.7 billion by 2022, driven primarily by legislation demanding that all construction work should apply BIM. The World Building Information Modelling (BIM) Market report, claims that its growth projections are based on increasing demand from the construction industry, in turn based on new government regulations mandating the use of BIM, a booming property sector in Asia and growing awareness of the benefits of BIM. Construction industries will continue to be the leading consumers of BIM, constituting nearly 63 percent of the global market by 2022. The report concludes that ‘BIM has emerged as an ideal alternative to traditional CAD software, owing to its suitability over a variety of operational issues such as cost management, handling raw data and information and alignment of processes’.
August 2, 2016
1 The next big thing in office design is not what you think but is certainly a sign of the times, according to a story in Inc; it is bullet proof office screens. 2 An exhibition in London offers up spectral images of abandoned buildings from the Soviet era. 3 We’ve been saying for a while that Millennials don’t exist as a separate species, but perhaps not as powerfully as Adam Conover does in this talk delivered, ironically, at a conference focused on marketing to Millennials 4 Maybe the UK Government has finally discovered that an awful lot of people live outside London as it announces the creation of three large civil service ‘hubs’ in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. 5 Philip Tidd of Gensler powerfully offers up an inconvenient truth for the UK workplace. 6 More evidence that the Brexit vote was largely a general protest vote rather than a specifically anti-EU vote from the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. 7 A letter to the FT from construction industry leaders urges the UK to maintain its role as a leader in tackling climate change.