Aping our robot overlords, Instagrammable buildings and some other stuff

Aping our robot overlords, Instagrammable buildings and some other stuff

What happens to people when their skills become obsolete? If you’re not asking yourself this question already, you probably should. A new study from researchers at MIT and Wharton is the basis for this piece in Quartz at Work which considers the implications for what looks like a small technological change and its consequences for a large number of people who had to reset what they offered employers. More →

Perkins and Will to design offices of European Commission

Perkins and Will to design offices of European Commission

officesThe London studio of designers Perkins+Will working with Madrid-based architects Rafael de La-Hoz has won the competition to design the new European Commission offices in Brussels. The consortium’s design was chosen over nine other entries from international teams in a blind competition for the project. The winning team will oversee the creation of the new complex, which is designed to reinvigorate the central European Quarter of Brussels in line with the plans of the local authorities. Alongside the new European Commission offices, which will house more than 5,000 people, will be public and retail space, a public gallery and landscaped gardens for staff, visitors and the local community. More →

The Age of Blorp, a dead tulip, no muggles allowed and some other stuff

First the good news. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has rejected the proposals for Foster+Partners’ godawful 300 metre tall ‘Tulip’ viewing tower in London. The reasons given for the refusal from the Mayor’s office include the fact that the thing didn’t represent the sort of “world class architecture that would be required to justify its prominence”. A nicely dressed up way of saying it’s a terrible idea, a terrible piece of architecture and has absolutely no place in London. More →

The scale of the problem for workplace design

The scale of the problem for workplace design 0

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 mosquito doesn’t need a glass because that is for animals who have a problem with gravity. For insects, the major force in their lives isn’t gravity, but surface tension. More →

Biophilia in the corporate HQ: an historical perspective

Biophilia in the corporate HQ: an historical perspective

In recent years, the concept of biophilia and the inclusion of greenery in the working environment has captured the media’s attention, which has depicted it as an important aspect of wellbeing in the workplace, seemingly the crucial indicator of a great office. For this reason, and beyond the superficial or cosmetic use of plants in the office, I would like to analyse the relationship between nature and the corporate world from a historical perspective in an effort to understand the role of greenery within the architecture of the corporate headquarters.

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Lies about work, the limits of wellness programmes, sleepwalking architects and some other shoes

Lies about work, the limits of wellness programmes, sleepwalking architects and some other shoes

There are lots of reasons to worry about where the World might be taking us, or perhaps where we are taking it. You can take your pick but for me one of the most worrying aspects of contemporary discourse is the obvious dearth of empathy. We might like to think of this as an innate characteristic of human beings, but it really isn’t. It’s something that we also need to learn. This idea is explored in this piece by Hanna Rosin who centres her argument around an analysis by Sara Konrath, an associate professor and researcher at Indiana University who has discovered that our willingness to empathise with people is eroding rapidly, especially for those who we see as ‘other’ or irrelevant. If you want an example of lack of empathy, you can see it in this footage of a banker being taken to task for it in a US committee hearing.

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New BSRIA guide to Soft Landings and Business-Focused Maintenance

New BSRIA guide to Soft Landings and Business-Focused Maintenance

New Soft Landings and Business-Focused Maintenance guide from BSRIABSRIA has launched a new guide that aims to inform those involved in the design, construction and operation of a building about how an effective Business-Focused Maintenance (BFM) regime can be developed and achieved through the Soft Landings approach. The topic guide on Soft Landings and BFM is written as an ‘at a glance publication’ to give readers a glimpse of the subject and recommends further reading. More →

The growing urbanisation of work and workplaces 0

The question of what makes a city great is an old one but has never been asked more than it is right now. It is usually couched in terms of the urbanisation of large parts of the world but it is important for other reasons too, not least because the urban environment is an increasingly important part of the virtual workplace many of us now inhabit and offices themselves increasingly resemble the agglomeration of spaces we have typically associated with our towns and cities. Recently, McKinsey published a  report into urbanisation, based largely on the usual premise of the proportion of the world’s people involved, but it is an issue that touches all of our lives and in unexpected ways.

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UKGBC issues circular economy guidance for construction clients

UKGBC issues circular economy guidance for construction clients

UKGBC issues circular economy guidance for construction clientsNew guidance has been launched by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) to assist client organisations to include more ambitious circular design and construction best practices in project briefs for non-domestic projects. It addresses the commercial realities associated with making this practically happen and provides support and evidence to assist clients in setting clear strategies that ensure budget, project timescales and risks are all minimised and mitigated. The guidance may also be helpful for those in the supply chain looking to support construction clients on their journey towards specifying and practically applying circular economy principles.

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Tower in Norway confirmed as tallest timber building in world

Tower in Norway confirmed as tallest timber building in world

A man looks up at the tallest timber building in the worldThe Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has verified the status of Mjøstårnet, a mixed-use building in Brumunddal, Norway as the World’s tallest timber building. At 85.4 meters, it is also the third-tallest building in Norway and the country’s tallest with mixed functions. This news coincides with the amendment of the CTBUH Height Criteria – the official guidelines upon which tall buildings are measured – to include timber as a recognised structural material. The update was prompted by the recent uptick of tall timber buildings currently under construction or in planning around the world, and the interest of involved stakeholders and the general public in defining what truly constitutes a “timber” structural system.

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We need to change the terms of the open plan office debate

We need to change the terms of the open plan office debate

Attractive foyer in office building designed by GenslerNew workplace data from the Gensler Research Institute claims to challenge the current narrative surrounding the open plan office ‘debate’ and uncovers the right way to invest in work-focused amenities, including coworking, that result in higher employee engagement, business performance and profit. The 2019 Gensler US Workplace Survey includes the input from more than 6,000 US office workers across a variety of industries and demographics to provide new insight into not only what makes an effective workplace, but the investments companies can make to improve employees’ workplace experience and performance. Reports for the UK, Germany, Latin America and Asia are also available here.

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Getting a better handle on the psychology of office design

Getting a better handle on the psychology of office design

It was the Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa who described the door handle as ‘the handshake of the building’ in his book The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. Buildings greet us in other ways too and we respond to those greetings in very human ways. So much so, in fact, that when we make decisions about the ways in which offices introduce themselves, we should take account of the psychological factors that can mean the difference between a successful or failed office design.  More →