by Mark Damant, Director, Woods Bagot
The evolution of working environments that have the ability to respond, as cities adjust to new industries, means new approaches to base building design is a necessity. Furthermore, ensuring buildings are providing appropriate spaces and places allows for innovation to occur. This is manifested in the evolution of cities and even countries at a broader level.
The word innovation however is a word loaded with (mis)interpretation so a reflection on what the word actually means is important.
Innovation: (noun) the action or process of innovating.
"Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organization.”
change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, reorganization, restructuring, rearrangement, recasting, remodeling, renovation, restyling, variation; More: new measures, new methods, new devices, novelty, newness, unconventionality, modernization, modernism; a break with tradition, a shift of emphasis, a departure, a change of direction; informala shake up; informala shakedown
Synonyms: humorous transmogrification
- "They favoured the traditional approach and resisted innovation.”
- a new method, idea, product, etc.
- plural noun: innovations: "Technological innovations designed to save energy."
The imperative for organisations to ‘innovate’ ("Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organization”) is a consistent theme. Staff reviews also consistently recognise that learning and development is important in both professional and personal lives. These themes are mission-central to generations of people that are also used to the rapid changes in technology, industry and ways of working. The “new” is easily accepted and adapted to, and there is no doubt that health and well-being is ultimately key to both company owners (who get more direct benefit of more engaged staff) and staff (who are more engaged in their professional lives).
What could this mean for the idea of Workplace Architecture and built form concepts? Could it mean that experience of city context is an essential component in the time we spend at our place of employment? Could it mean that working is more like learning, where the office is more like being in a university and less like a ‘place of production’? Could it consequentially mean that flux is an essential ingredient to any building?
City Merging in Workplace, Buildings as Social Chameleons
SuperSpace suggests that a deep multi-dimensional analysis of city and city context and the merging of that understanding into the interior will create spaces and places that define new building typologies not necessarily exclusive to office, residential or institutional. Like cities, workplace buildings could be designed as precincts, neighbourhoods and quarters with a level of ambiguity about their complete future use.
Superspace uses digital technology to test multiple solutions and organisational possibilities to ensure that space can be adjusted to multiple solutions and configurations, noting that the ultimate form of sustainability is the ability to adapt easily to multiple futures, without complete renewal (the most indulgent form of waste).
Superspace posits the idea that the city is a super space and that all of the component parts of the city as a place should work as a combined whole to truly make a remarkable new future. In this way, cities are fields rather than zones.
Learning at Work, Buildings are Universities
Organisations are increasingly spending more time adapting to new technologies and learning to work in new ways. So if buildings are increasingly becoming places of learning, it can only follow that buildings whom consider themselves campus’s (with unallocated in between spaces, large open floor plates and multiple configuration possibilities) will start becoming more and more prevalent.