• Industrialize It

    Office design, an ever changing factor of the architecture and design industry, goes beyond open plan and into its next phase. The idea for a better work environment came several years ago and we’re now seeing some amazing results. You’ll learn about the latest in our piece The Hybrid Office: More Than Open Space.

    Do-it-yourself architecture has never been so powerful in the industry. In this issue you’ll catch up on some of the latest tools and resources available to bring your designs to life in the DIY world. We highlight the Smestad Recycling Center by Longva Arkitekter who explains the importance of repeatable design. Don’t miss our Q&A.

    We take you on an artistic journey from Switzerland to Germany with architect Albert Gothe, then to Italy for some treats from tradeshow Cersaie. You’ll get a taste of the Philippines and its “Church of 100 Walls,” and discover New York City-based architect Ate Atema’s plan to reduce the city’s sewage problem. We offer some inspiration from Dubai and more.

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    Professionals from the building industry need to keep an open mind.
    Courtesy of Panorama

    In the wake of the 2008 U.S. housing crisis and Great Recession, people had to rely on resources other than money, and the movement of autonomous and collaborative initiatives was born. In a 2013 Ted Talk, Wikihouses founder Alastair Parvin asks, “Who are the people that make cities?” Around the same time, resourceful...

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    A new era in workplace strategy and design.
    Courtesy of Steelcase

    Offering spaces for a variety of work activities, the hybrid office solves many of the problems that have plagued open plan workplaces.


    The open-plan scheme from the 2000s, with rows upon rows of workstations and never enough social and meeting spaces, is officially, according to Gensler’s research, being transformed into a new trend: the hybrid office.

    “It’s not going too far out on a limb to say these findings put us at the beginning of a new era in workplace strategy and design,” Diane Hoskins, executive director at Gensler, wrote in an article in 2012.

    Check out Gensler’s 2016 workplace survey.

    Open plans have created environments where employees fight against surrounding noises—phone calls, discussions—in order to concentrate. It’s led to a separation and a more individual way of working, with neighboring colleagues emailing one another instead of talking voice to voice. Little boxes that act as meeting spaces aren’t necessarily inviting, so creative collaboration has been cut down.

    The open-office layout “is destroying the workplace,” declares a 2015 Washington Post headline, which labels the setup “oppressive.”

    The Solution: Go Hybrid

    The solution is a new kind of workplaces that offers a mix—open plan, quiet spaces, social spaces, meeting spaces and more. This is the hybrid office. When global architecture firm Woods Bagot recently designed a new workplace for Challenger in the center of Sydney, they dedicated 60% of the space to quiet and collaborative zones, with only 40% of the space taken up with workstations.

    “It is crucial to establish the correct mix during the briefing phase to understand how the business can reach its strategies,” says Todd Hammond from Woods Bagot’s Sydney office told ArchiExpo. “The mix is determined by the type of work being done and how it should be done in the future. If the quantities of alternative or support work settings are not correct, then the workplace and culture can suffer.”

    Woods Bagot office archiexpo

    Woods Bagot National Australia Bank NAB © Shannon McGrath

    The Workplace Laboratory

    Furniture manufacturers are already on board, focusing on creating work settings that suit different types of work, rather than on individual products. Vitra has partnered with London-based architecture studio of Pernilla Ohrstedt and the Los Angeles design office of Jonathan Olivares to create an exhibition called Work, which will take place at Orgatec in Germany later this month.
    Work showcases the elements that will impact the workspaces of today and tomorrow, a laboratory for testing new workplace ideas. Vitra invited a series of complementary companies like Bulthaup, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung and Swisscom to round out the selection of products in the hall. From architectural and environmental elements to work tools, Vitra and its partner brands collectively address the array of products that make up today’s workspace.

    In the Industry: All Aboard

    In practice, Vitra found that the introduction of designated areas for withdrawal and communication were indispensable in their own offices, an insight that prompted the development of the Alcove sofa family by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

    Steelcase has its own workplace research group, which is investigating staff engagement as a critical element in an organization’s success—those workers who have more choice over their workplace are more engaged. As a result, Steelcase’s furniture solutions for the hybrid office focus on different types of spaces, including social spaces for lounging and office chat; focus spaces in the form of lounge seating for private rooms, desks with modesty panels and private working pods such as the Brody WorkLounge; and collaboration spaces composed of café-style or kitchen bench−style settings as well as lounging and more formal boardroom settings.

    Herman Miller’s research takes a different tack, detailing the ten different work activities that all office workers engage in, then offering solutions for each one. One might be suitable for one or more work types. For example, Haven is a semi-private individual workspace for concentrated work; Clubhouse is a group working space for a long-term team; and Forum is a space to show work.

    At the End of the Day

    By understanding how office workers function and considering the workplace as a series of settings for different types of work, each of these furniture brands is proving that one size does not fit all. Instead, by offering settings tailored to the work of the organization—a hybrid of open plan, private and social spaces—and giving workers the autonomy to move between them, the office is becoming a better place to be because happy workers are efficient workers.

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    It is important that industrial buildings be architecture.
    Courtesy of Longva Arkitekter

    The Smestad Recycling Centre in Oslo marks the beginning of a new era: It is one of the first recycling centers for the public in which waste management takes place entirely indoors. Longva Arkitekter, the firm responsible for the center, chose low-impact materials for the building’s construction, composing facades...

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    Penny Craswell

    Penny Craswell is a Sydney-based editor, writer and communications specialist on design and architecture.

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    Gillian Millar

    Gillian Millar is a journalist, broadcaster and filmmaker living in Switzerland.

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    Erin Tallman

    Erin Tallman, writer and Online Managing Editor of ArchiExpo e-magazine.

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    Vanessa Liwanag

    Vanessa Liwanag, is an MBA alumni of the prestigious Mod’Art International in Paris and founder of Creative Talents Worldwide.

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    Hilary Edesess

    Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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    Alex Ulam

    Alex Ulam is a freelance journalist and design critic based in New York.

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    Erin Gigl

    Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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