ArchiExpo e-Magazine - #27 - Industrialize It - ArchiExpo e-Magazine

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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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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    A material library, or a designer’s dreamland, is indeed a magical place. ArchiExpo e-Mag visited Cité du Design’s materials library in Saint-Etienne, France. Inspiration, innovation and human connection all play a part in the system here. We later phoned Alexandre Peutin, head of the materials library, to better understand how they work and what’s coming up.

    ArchiExpo e-Mag: How would you describe the materials library?

    Alexandre Peutin: It’s a place for research and study dedicated to materials and a link between professionals. We bring people together to reconsider existing materials in order to create innovation.

    ArchiExpo e-Mag: Can you give an example of the partnership between the materials library and ESDL for Cité du Design’s Biennial?

    Alexandre Peutin: This partnership allows design students to work with a specific company, where they learn its savoir faire and develop an eco-design. Our role is connecting the students and the companies. It’s good for the company because they get to discover design, a concept they’re not necessarily familiar with, and often this gives them more desire to work with designers in the future. Most companies end up working with the student once they’ve become professional designers. Most of the project prototypes will be presented during our Biennial in 2017.

    Design student Vanja Basic is paired with kitchen and bathroom company Gomet Granit which specializes in marble. This will be one of the surprise projects presented at the Biennial in March.

    ArchiExpo e-Mag: Do you have any new methods for connecting people together for innovation?

    Alexandre Peutin: We’re starting another student program where we mix designers and engineers by group. They’ll be working with specific materials and will have one month to develop a project. We’ll then get business students involved to study the economic feasibility of the project, and later connect with manufacturers and brands who could be interested in taking the project further.

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    The 34th edition of Cersaie, Italy’s international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, offered an update on last year’s trends for tiles. Among some of the major highlights of this year’s fair, Italian company Scavolini participated, for the first time, by unveiling its bathroom and kitchen Ki collection, designed by Studio Nendo. Visitors also gathered for an inspiring talk from both architects Norman Foster and Solano Benitez.

    Brain-cozy Creative Power

    The 85-year-old Lord Norman Robert Foster took young students and course architects on the riveting historical trail of his career. He concluded by talking about the Scopus award he received, designed by performance artist Marina Ambramovic as a golden model of the architect’s brain. The award was enclosed with a pink, cerebrum-like cap that the artist christened “brain cozy.”

    “I’d say that in the pursuit of architecture and beauty, it’s all about the creative power of the individuals, the team,” Foster said. “It’s totally about the creative part.”

    The Scopus award for Norman Foster, designed by performance artist Marina Ambramovic

    The Scopus award for Norman Foster, designed by performance artist Marina Ambramovic

    A Dwelling for 25 Grandchildren

    “The absence of fear, free from thoughts of limitations or obstacles,” Solano Benitez explained. “We have always held a smile, distinguishing us Paraguayans from others.”

    The renowned architect chose to speak about his beginning, one that included the design of his mother’s home for six brothers and 25 grandchildren.

    Researching low-cost solutions that are adaptable to the Paraguayan climate, is a part of the Benitez’s core. He presented an innovative construction system of brick and concrete with a very low impact technology at the Venice Biennale.

    Even when it seems impossible.

    “We must think of brick as a material that offers continuous opportunities to experience things never attempted before, even when it seems impossible.”

    In the Bathroom with Scavolini

    Although Scavolini presented its Ki collection in Salone del Mobile last April, the company participated in Cersaie for the very first time. Japanese designer Oki Sato explains the making of the kitchen and bathroom collection Ki:

    “The idea was to make it hidden into different object to create more space in the kitchen…something that is different from the other kitchens and so I named it Ki, because it means bowl or container in Japanese, also meaning wood.”

    Tile Talk: An Update on Trends

    While a strong interest in wood-inspired ceramic tiles continues, companies are incorporating new forms such as basket-weaving designs. Trends included tiles mimicking tweed-style fabric and lace imprints. Italian company SICIS developed a technique in which a mosaic effect is achieved by sealing a textile beneath glass. As for technology, Ardogres exhibited its Ardosolar roof tile system that comes equipped with thin photovoltaic panels.

    Ceramica Sant'Agostino cersaie archiexpo

    Courtesy of Ceramica Sant’Agostino


    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

    American artist Erin Tallman is a journalist for various online publications and is the Editor in Chief of ArchiExpo e-magazine. She has published three books, including her first novel.

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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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