Biophilic design has a long history and an even bigger future

Biophilic design has a long history and an even bigger future

biophilic design at the new Amazon HQ2There are plenty of definitions of the modish concept of biophilic design around right now. But perhaps nobody can top that of Erich Fromm, the sociologist and psychoanalyst who first described it in his 1973 book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness as “The passionate love of life and all that is alive”. More →

Wondering what to do about that office of yours? Hold the line.

Wondering what to do about that office of yours? Hold the line.

Bruntwood Bloc Manchester office

At the end of April, New York magazine’s cover feature was headed ‘Remember the Office?’ The article reminisced about a world of cubicles and water-coolers, coffee points and staff parties. Its tone was elegiac, implying that it wasn’t just the enforced distance of 13 months of COVID-19 restrictions that lent enchantment to communal workspace, but the possibility that offices had gone for good.?  More →

Indoor air quality guide published by BESA

Indoor air quality guide published by BESA

indoor air qualityThe removal of most Covid restrictions in the UK has increased calls for clearer practical guidance and the setting of specific indoor air quality (IAQ) contaminant targets to support the health and wellbeing of building occupants. The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has, therefore, produced a concise guide to good practice: ‘Indoor Air Quality for Health & Well-Being’, which is designed to help building owners, managers and engineers interpret IAQ data and turn it into useful strategies for improving the indoor environment. More →

The unshocking truth about work and workplaces

The unshocking truth about work and workplaces

I recently read an interesting little book called Office by Sheila Liming. It’s a small book, easy to read in a sitting and linked to a series of essays in The Atlantic. The author is a Professor of English so it’s no surprise to find that it’s beautifully written and draws on a range of sources to illustrate its points. It’s pretty sound on its own terms but also illustrates perfectly what is wrong with so many current narratives about work. The writing may not be clichéd but the thinking often is. More →

Is it time for a carbon tax?

Is it time for a carbon tax?

productivity and environment carbon taxMost people now recognise that we are facing a climate emergency – the record breaking temperatures in the US are, perhaps, another reminder. Many would agree that economic and legislative change is the only way forward to achieve a sustainable change in behaviour. Who should pay for greater environmental responsibility? Is it time for a carbon tax to limit carbon hungry products and fund investment? More →

The weird science of personal creativity

The weird science of personal creativity

creativityPerhaps the most famous single act of personal creativity – with apologies to Archimedes – is Mary Godwin’s moment of inspiration for the story of Frankenstein in 1816. It was born from a wet summer in a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva, largely spent with her future husband Percy Shelley, John Polidori and Lord Byron. The poor weather and isolation meant the party had to entertain themselves the best they could. More →

Time to get real on what companies need from their real estate

Time to get real on what companies need from their real estate

A new era for real estateAs businesses return to their offices they are faced with a challenge – how do they reappraise their space requirements post-Covid? Social and technological advancements are changing real estate from being a fixed physical product, into flexible, employee-centric spaces that enable new models of hybrid working and business operations. These have a significant impact on the ways that businesses work and the options available to them. More →

The office is everywhere and nowhere, baby

The office is everywhere and nowhere, baby

Workplace Insight and IN Magazine publisher Mark Eltringham recently took part in a lively episode of the Nowhere Office podcast with Julia Hobsbawn, Stefan Stern and Joanna Swash. They considered the current nature of work, what long term changes we can expect to emerge now and the role of working culture in providing a great experience for everybody, whoever and wherever they are – and whenever they might work. More →

Indoor air quality needs to be talked about far more than it is

Indoor air quality needs to be talked about far more than it is

An open window indoor air qualityOne of the unintended consequences of the pandemic has been to focus attention on the issue of indoor air quality. But as Sarah Zhang points out in a recent piece in The Atlantic, this is an issue that we have long understood, and not just as a way to reduce the risks of infection. It is essential for our wellbeing. More →

The underlying problems with the way we think about work

The underlying problems with the way we think about work

people and workAn idea that has never really gone away, but which seems to be enjoying a new lease of life is the tabula rasa. The conception of people as a blank slate is something a that has crept back into mainstream political and social thought for a variety of reasons. Arguably, it is also behind many of the most misleading notions about work and workplace design, perhaps most importantly that a change to some single element or characteristic of a working environment will lead to a specific outcome in the behaviour of people. More →

Setting out the known unknowns about work

Setting out the known unknowns about work

With the majority of COVID-19 restrictions in England due to be lifted later this month, it is understandable that many are limbering up, ready for some grand ‘return to the office’.  Yet, unlike the pubs, hairdressers, and gyms we are not going back to what we left. This was an inevitability. The workplace was, and remains, an ever evolving and multifarious beast.    More →

The great office door handle problem

The great office door handle problem

office door handleArchitects and designers have always a had a thing for door handles. It’s the kind of detail they like and one of the most genuinely tactile features of a building. Architects from Frank Gehry to Zaha Hadid have worked on the designs of door handles for manufacturers. It was the Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa who described the door handle as ‘the handshake of the building’ in his architectural theory book?The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses in 2005. This was cute before last March but now looks slightly menacing.   More →

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