07 Jul 17

Office Buildings Taking on the Life of the City

Buildings are merging with the city, facilitating a more relevant understanding of place.

The notion of mixed use ‘experience’ is blurring the boundaries between personal and communal space. Work environments are designed to facilitate play while the home must be maximized for work. A building is no longer solely the domain of its occupants but integrated into the community that surrounds it. Adorned with sensors that connect it to the network and systems that learn to respond to its tenants, the building becomes an organism that actively engages with a dialogue. It warms and lights up on human contact, reducing energy and shutting its eyes when people leave the building. It can use biometric data, face recognition, and other tricks to determine who gets in and everything that’s trying to get out.

But the smart building can’t survive solely on self-preservation. It must be responsive and act responsibly to the wider community. Although buildings now consume about two-thirds of America’s electrical energy, they may soon generate more than they produce. Their security features let them alert the community to wider threats, from a coming typhoon to a cyber-breach. The building can educate its tenants on good habits, and reinforce them through frequent feedback.

Most important, perhaps, it learns to embrace its neighbours. The building’s foyer and towers becomes a destination for new experiences. Flexible architecture transforms building’s personality with each new look. Like a good host, it caters to its guests and introduces visitors to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Community & City Networks

New forms of community and city networks inform the way people relate to buildings where, how and when people work.

  • As market complexity and dynamism renders traditional site analysis techniques redundant, design teams focus on understanding and engaging the local community in design.
  • The building becomes a common asset that shares its energy and its insights with the public.
  • Design flexibility enables buildings to transform their interiors and personalities to create new experiences and destinations.
  • Layered buildings where multiple functions and typologies co-exist on a site is both complex and invigorating. New development will need to be necessarily ambiguous and flexible to enable rapid agility, driving complex engineering and design solution.

National Australia Bank Docklands

This behemoth, with its associated large floor plate, is located on a complex, triangular city site on an artificial ground plane. A determined strategy of scaling and texture was introduced to blur the bulk of the form into the precinct. The building does not look like an office building; an intriguing structure draws the complexity of the city into its very core.

Gardens on the roof connect employees back to other life essentials and fresh air. Visually, the connection to the city is direct and powerful – this organization is part of the city.