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A gallery of the workplace winners of this year’s RIBA Awards

A gallery of the workplace winners of this year’s RIBA Awards

DonmarDrydenSt workplaceThe full list of regional winners of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards for 2015 has been finalised. The list of 37 winners will now go on to compete for the Stirling Prize in October. This year’s list is dominated by London projects, as is often the case, but also by homes whereas last year they were dominated by large scale projects, especially The Shard. We’ve rounded up a gallery of the major workplace projects in the list for England and Wales with some notes extracted from RIBA’s own commentaries (so don’t blame us). Each entry is hyperlinked for you to discover more about the project. Unfortunately, the regional winners for Scotland and Northern Ireland are not well served by their respective websites, which is a particular shame given the success Scotland in particular has in terms of the number and apparent quality of its winning projects.

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London cements its status as Europe’s most important tech hub

tech hubA new report launched to coincide with London Technology Week claims that London has cemented its position as the most important tech hub in Europe and will boost the UK economy by £18bn in 2015. According to the event’s organisers, London’s technology sector is growing faster than both the overall economies of London and the whole UK and will continue to do so for the next decade. The figures show that the number of companies in London’s digital technology sector has grown by 46 percent since the launch of the Tech City programme. The sector now employs almost 200,000 people, 17 percent more than in 2010. Other research from EY claims to show London’s dominance of the European tech sector. According to EY more than 1,000 international tech investment projects located in London between 2005–2014, significantly more than the next most attractive city, Paris (381).

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New report lays out its 2040 vision of the workplace of the future

New report lays out its 2040 vision of the workplace of the future

Workplace of the futureBy 2040 knowledge workers will decide where and how they want to work, according to a new report on the workplace of the future by Johnson Controls’ Global Workplace Solutions business. The Smart Workplace 2040 report claims that 25 years from now, work will be seen as something workers do, rather than a place to which they commute. According to the study, work patterns will be radically different as  a new generation of what it terms ‘workspace consumers’ choose their time and place of work. Most workers will frequently work from home, and will choose when to visit work hubs to meet and network with others. There will be no set hours and the emphasis will be on getting work done, while workers’ wellness will take priority. Technology will bring together networks of individuals who operate in an entrepreneurial way, with collaboration the major driver of business performance.

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Collaborative work is the driving force behind the desk rental boom

Collaborative work is the driving force behind the desk rental boom

collaborative workingIn the wake of the Smarter Working West Midlands project, which encouraged SMEs to try co-working for free, it is increasingly apparent the nation’s small businesses are prepared to embrace alternative office space options. Both serviced offices and desk-rental can offer the flexibility a long-term office lease often cannot because they involve rental agreements that may work monthly or quarterly, while a traditional lease will generally require a commitment of several years. Desk rental also offers a chance of skill-sharing, collaborative work and networking. In fact this was the key benefit for many businesses participating in Smarter Working West Midlands. For startups the ability to expand, contract or even relocate office can be invaluable. It’s this flexibility which allows them to mould a space to their brand and make the office feel like a true home.

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Are these this year’s ten most sustainable buildings in North America?

Are these this year’s ten most sustainable buildings in North America? 0

Bulliit Centre - sustainable buildingsThe American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected what they claim are the nation’s top ten examples of sustainable architecture and ecological design projects. The COTE Top Ten Awards program, now in its 19th year, claims to be the profession’s most rigorous recognition program for sustainable buildings. The program highlights projects that are the result of an “integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology … which make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.”

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Facebook nearly doubles the size of its London headquarters

Facebook nearly doubles the size of its London headquarters 0

Regent's PlaceFacebook has nearly doubled the size of its UK headquarters on Euston Road in Central London, according to property owner British Land. The firm has signed a deal with the landlord that will see it add 66,000 sq ft to its existing 87,000 sq ft office. Facebook will occupy the fifth floor of the Regent’s Place building, as well as floors nine to sixteen and some shared space on the ground floor. The company has recently relocated from a 36,000 sq ft office in Covent Garden. Facebook is one of several global tech giants migrating to the area around Euston and Kings Cross which is in the midst of a multibillion redevelopment. The most high profile new resident is Google which is building a giant new headquarters building in King’s Cross. Other organisations in the area, which has been dubbed the Knowledge Quarter, include UCL, the Guardian and the government’s Digital Catapult Centre.

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Promotion: Can discarded plastic bottles foster employee wellbeing?

Promotion: Can discarded plastic bottles foster employee wellbeing? 0

wellbeingEmployee wellbeing, productivity and privacy are hot topics in the workplace right now and AgileAcoustics think they have a unique solution to drive this forward. The company, based on campus at the University of Bradford has developed a range of acoustic panels that use plastic bottles destined for the scrap heap to make offices around the world more pleasant places to work. About 18 months ago they developed a ‘shaped’ wall print made from recycled plastic bottles, and raised £13,000 on Kickstarter. Shortly after Stuart Jones, the Founder met with a Commercial Interior Designer who loved the prints and advised him to look at the acoustic performance. Jones quickly set to researching the prints acoustic performance, and shortly after decided to develop a spin-off product with class-leading acoustics performance.

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RBS to save £18 million a year with office consolidation plans 0

RBS GogarburnThe Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is to close four of its offices in Edinburgh as it moves to consolidate its operations at its Gogarburn headquarters. The change is expected to divest around 344,000 sq. ft. of space at the four existing sites in the centre of Edinburgh, saving some £18 million a year when the move is completed by 2017. By then some 6,000 employees will be working at the HQ in the rural district of Gogar, doubling the number of existing employees on the site. In addition to the consolidation, RBS is opening up the building to new and existing businesses to promote their growth. The plans involve the creation of a centre for entrepreneurs and small businesses which will allow them access to expert advice and finance, develop relationships with RBS and also encourage them to collaborate and share ideas with each other.

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Why Facebook and other tech giants still apply mainstream office design ideas 0

Facebook-560x480This week Facebook moved into its new offices in Menlo Park, California. As you might expect they are somewhat out of the ordinary. Designed by Frank Gehry, they are bright, open and loaded with quirky and colourful design ideas. Yet upon closer inspection their underlying office design principles are often resolutely mainstream, not least the inclusion of what is billed as the world’s largest open plan office. In fact this has the personal backing of the CEO himself and has long been the core element in the brief because Facebook sees the idea of openness as being an essential part of its mission and business model. Mark Zuckerberg announced the opening of the building on his own Facebook page (where else?). In his official statement, he explains the thinking behind the design in an interesting way and it bears reproducing.

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The latest Insight newsletter is now available to view online

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s issue; Maciej Markowski says it’s worth asking exactly where open plan office layouts will work and where they won’t and Justin Miller explores the influence of Scandinavian furniture design on the UK. Mark Eltringham wonders what will become of the generation of Tech Palaces, as exemplified by Google’s California campus; asks why more firms haven’t been drawn to look at leasing to fund office fit-out and argues politicians tend to get behind a big, stupid idea than a number of small, effective ones. Two new reports published this week highlight the potential benefits of flexible working, especially to women; and news of the latest workplace malaise, Invisible Employee Syndrome, when employees disappear from the performance radar. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.

Video and gallery: Google’s new Silicon Valley headquarters

google10cropGoogle may be having second thoughts about the design of its new London offices, but it is rather less reticent about that of its new Silicon Valley headquarters. It plans to transform a 2.5 million square foot site in the Californian city of Mountain View into a home for around 10,000 workers. The pastoral setting has been designed by Thomas Heatherwick and Bjarke Engels and incorporates parkland dotted with glass buildings including some Eden Project like geodesic domes. Unsurprisingly the campus buildings have been designed to achieve a LEED platinum accreditation and cars are largely discouraged from the site. Heatherwick has described the plans as humanistic and the plans include a number of community facilities including a new public safety building, two new parks, an educational science centre and even a residential development on neighbouring land.

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Flexible working is best built on the foundations of a great office

flexible working loungeIt’s getting on for two years since Yahoo’s much talked about decision in 2013 to ban its staff from homeworking but, in many ways, the fallout has continued ever since. Certainly a lot of commentary on the subject refers back to CEO Marissa Mayer’s trend bucking decision. This can only be because it was a defining event in what is an enduring debate about where we work and what that means for a range of factors including our productivity, wellbeing, sense of belonging, access to information, the way we structure our time and our ability to communicate with and develop relationships with our fellow human beings. If those things were the same regardless of how and where we worked, there would be no discussion in the first place. But they do make a difference and there is a discussion.

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