At the start of the pandemic, whether we wanted to or not, we got used to online and remote working, from our homes, and we perceived this as a revolution ‒ and even a positive one for certain aspects. Then once the main emergency was over, we sometimes reassessed our opinions. While nevertheless making due distinctions, we went back to appreciating some practices that had often been taken for granted: seeing work colleagues, having face-to-face contact and physically taking part in meetings all proved useful and enjoyable, as well as more productive in human and work terms. What point are we at now? What should we choose? Focusing reflection on the world of architecture in this case too has been useful in trying to understand how and where we'll be working in the coming years, and what work environments and conditions will be like. Because there's always been a close connection ‒ constant conditioning even ‒ between the way we live and the spaces we live in.
The four projects we've chosen are innovative forerunners in this sense: modern, hybrid and resilient work contexts suitable both for co-working and for workshop and research activities. Eco-sustainable and energy-efficient offices. From the United States to Florence, visiting Milan and Montpellier on the way: here are four examples of green creative hubs.
Spaces set out on two levels covering a total of about 3,000 m2: the new AstraZeneca offices by the Tétris Design & Build studio show a design that repurposes one of the former Expo 2015 pavilions, in Milan's MIND Village district. The edifice has been converted into a work environment contributing to accent the client's identity, while also encouraging eco-sustainability, respect for the planet and healthy living habits.
Fluid spaces encouraging inclusiveness are flooded by natural light coming in through large windows, while open-space rooms, multi-purpose work areas, sliding partitions and seamless environments are just a few more of the features of this building. The internal load-bearing timber structure has been preserved to reveal the DNA of the existing construction, with the addition of biophilia elements: natural materials and organic forms exalt the link between humankind and nature.
Thus the AstraZeneca offices foster the personnel's well-being through inclusive, eco-sustainable organic architecture. For this reason too, the work areas are versatile and multi-purpose.
>> Find out more about this project
An entire edifice ‒ the largest at the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Oregon ‒ has been dedicated to the queen of tennis: designed by Skylab Architecture, the Serena Williams Building was completed in 2022. It covers an area of over 90,000 m2 ‒ equal to 140 tennis courts ‒ and can accommodate 2,750 members of staff.
These facilities comprise four function-based areas: an underground car park and loading dock, a merchandising center for prototype retail spaces, integrated design studios for multiple product categories, and a 12-storey tower with shared amenities for the entire campus, which connects up the various wings of the complex. Besides offices, the building houses a showroom and a materials library.
Several practical design measures also contribute to saving energy, such as the photovoltaic system, the rainwater harvesting system, and the use of locally sourced and recycled materials. In addition, to help the project blend into its surrounding landscape, the previous access road has been placed underground, along with the parking and loading areas. All these features have enabled the building to gain LEED Platinum certification ‒ the highest level attainable.
>> Read more and browse the gallery
A workplace created to the backdrop of the green Mediterranean: this is the new Montpellier head office designed by Brenac & Gonzalez et Associés for Orange, the French telephone operator. The new offices and shared company cafeteria are located in the north-east of the city, in the Majoria office park – the former La Pompignane industrial estate. The project features a landscaped building interacting with its surrounding green context, where architecture and landscape seamlessly meld.
The building develops on four floors, all with spacious terraces and green balconies. Accompanying these is a garden with shade brought by various tree species, including umbrella pines, olives and cypresses, creating a verdant Mediterranean context also within the premises.
>> Take a look at the project concept and read the full article
The Creative Hub is the name of the new Furla offices and production plant between Florence and Siena, designed by the Udine-based GEZA studio (Stefano Gri and Piero Zucchi). Various volumes are settled on the hillside's natural gradient, creating a sort of procession: the first in the series is an elongated sleeve-like building almost following the roadside; behind this is a practically square unit; after that are two more constructions, which together form a smaller square block. Taken as a whole, their layout illustrates the project intent of interacting with the surrounding landscape, as if to enhance what already exists ‒ a landscape of rolling hills ‒ through a sort of pre-existent order, a little like in a musical score.
GEZA opted for a color scheme of black and dark grays, offsetting this with the white cladding of the end building furthest down the hill.
>> Read the full article (purchase necessary) in The Plan 135
UFFICI ASTRAZENECA, TÉTRIS DESIGN X BUILD
Location: Milan, Italy
Architect: Tétris Design x Build
Gross Floor Area: 3,000 m2
Photography: Davide Galli, courtesy of Tétris Design x Build
SERENA WILLIAMS BUILDING, SKYLAB ARCHITECTURE
Location: Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Architecture and Interior Design: Skylab Architecture
Photography by Jeremy Bittermann/ Stephen Miller, courtesy of Skylab Architecture
ORANGE HEADQUARTERS, BRENAC & GONZALEZ & ASSOCIÉS
Location: Montpellier, France
Architect: Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés, Vivien Gimenez Architecte
Area: 16,100 m²
Photography by Sergio Grazia courtesy of Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés
THE CREATIVE HUB, GEZA ARCHITETTURA
Location: Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Florence, Italy
Architect: GEZA Gri e Zucchi Architettura
Client: FC Immobiliare
Area: 42.000 m2
Photography by Fernando Guerra FG+SG Fotografia de Arquitectura, courtesy of GEZA Gri e Zucchi Architettura