Office design goes to the movies

Office design goes to the movies

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What can the movies tell us about office designFollowing our recent attempts to create a rudimentary playlist of songs that tell us something or perhaps nothing about office design, office life and office furniture, here’s another look at how the parochial world of the workplace can brush up against popular culture. It does this unnoticed for most people, I suppose, but not for those of us bound up in this world. We can’t ignore the brief glimpse of an Aeron chair’s ubiquitous mesh without a synapse firing up. So, here is a brief rundown of nine movies that use office design to make a plot point or set up a character development.

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A new generation of smart cities is with us

A new generation of smart cities is with us

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Siemenstadt smart city in BerlinAn abandoned mine shaft beneath the town of Mansfield, England is an unlikely place to shape the future of smart cities. But here, researchers from the nearby University of Nottingham are planning to launch a “deep farm” that could produce ten times as much food as farms above ground. Deep farms are an example of what the latest wave of smart cities look like: putting people first by focusing on solving urban problems and improving existing infrastructure, rather than opening shiny new buildings. More →

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

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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 →

Stranger than we can imagine: the future of work and place in the 21st Century

Stranger than we can imagine: the future of work and place in the 21st Century 0

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future of work and placeHowever much we know about the forces we expect to come into play in our time and however much we understand the various social, commercial, legislative, cultural and economic parameters we expect to direct them, most predictions of the future tend to come out as refractions or extrapolations of the present. This is a fact tacitly acknowledged by George Orwell’s title for 1984, written in 1948, and is always the pinch of salt we can apply to science fiction and most of the predictions we come across. More →

A life after carbon for the built environment

A life after carbon for the built environment

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A new urban model is emerging worldwide – transforming the way cities design and use physical space, generate economic wealth, consume and dispose of resources, exploit and sustain the natural ecosystems they need, and prepare for the future. This emerging new urban paradigm has profound implications for players who care about and depend on the design of a city’s built infrastructure – including architects, engineers, builders, real estate developers, and office building tenants. More →

NeoCon marks a transitional year in 2019

NeoCon marks a transitional year in 2019

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Chicago, considered the home for the modern workplace by many, played host once again to the 51st edition of NeoCon at The Merchandise Mart. The Mart, as is it affectionately known, is itself an interesting building; a vast space of 25 floors, it spans two city blocks and was the largest building in the world when it opened in 1930. More →

The biggest problem with open plan offices is how they are used

The biggest problem with open plan offices is how they are used

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A Cuban panopticon is the idea most people have of open plan officesFor decades the trend among workplaces has seen employees moving out of individual offices and into open plan spaces. This has not always been successful, with the open-plan approach receiving significant criticism. The key issues are distraction and noise, which apparently leads to uncooperative behaviour, distrust and negative personal relationships, and the lack of privacy and sense of being universally observed. Now that the internet connectivity is available almost everywhere and thus allows much more flexible working, the question arises: What might the set-up of an ideal workplace environment look like today? More →

Peace and quiet at work? Here are ten of the best and most far out solutions

Peace and quiet at work? Here are ten of the best and most far out solutions 0

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Publication1Any survey that sets out to establish what people believe cuts their productivity and annoys them most about their workplace almost invariably throws up the same result; the noise and distractions generated by other people. So it will come as no surprise to learn that the same surveys usually find that employees believe that peace and quiet and freedom from distractions is the most important factor when it comes to getting some decent work done. More →

Wellbeing linked to two hours outdoors each week

Wellbeing linked to two hours outdoors each week

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The idea that spending recreational time in natural settings is good for our health and wellbeing is hardly new. Parents have been telling their kids to “go play outside, it’s good for you” for generations. Now, colleagues and I have published a study in the journal Scientific Reports which suggests that a dose of nature of just two hours a week is associated with better health and psychological wellbeing, a figure that applies to every demographic we could think of (at least in England). More →

The greenest building is no building, our false craving for silence and some other stuff

The greenest building is no building, our false craving for silence and some other stuff

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As climate scientists issue increasingly stark warnings about the global environmental catastrophe that is increasingly likely within a very short time frame, Will Jennings issues a timely reminder in the Architects Journal that the greenest type of building is no building at all. And that is doubly so when the building we are talking about is The Tulip, which would clearly be a very bad idea at any time. The author takes particular exception to the glossy environmental pledges made by high profile architects when contrasted with the ugly, vacuous grandstanding typified by The Tulip. More →

In defence of open plan office design

In defence of open plan office design

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The Johnson Wax building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was an early example of open plan office designNoisy, distracting, toxic and disastrous. These are just a few words that have been used to describe open plan office layouts. Though the open office layout model was originally conceived to promote collaboration, innovation and stronger workplace relationship, if recent press is to be believed, it’s had the opposite effect at many companies. More →

Workplace aliens, always the coffee, bullshit asymmetry and some other stuff

Workplace aliens, always the coffee, bullshit asymmetry and some other stuff

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I’ve sometimes highlighted how our perceptions of the workplace are subject to an apex fallacy. The daily consumption of narratives about wellbeing, agile working, coworking, campuses, tech palaces and ‘cool’ design can obscure the fact that most people don’t experience this stuff in their daily lives. They work in mundane offices or shabby offices or horrible offices. They travel into work at the same time each day and sit with roughly the same people and do roughly the same things. More →

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