Office and workplace architecture have always been highly receptive to the latest technologies and innovations, the result of a design approach that pays careful attention to the tiniest details and embraces input from fields ranging from the sciences to the humanities.
While a revolution in the design of workplaces was already underway prior to 2020, today, in the wake of the pandemic, it’s taken a decisive turn that’s set to change the concept of the office forever.
Many recent projects have placed a lot of emphasis on comfort. In the future, we’ll no longer be forced to adapt to our place of employment. Instead, workplaces will adapt to our needs and do it within comfortable surroundings. They’ll be places where we can spend a lot of time without the pressures or formalities of traditional offices. In other words, they’ll be spacious, flexible places that will replicate – or even improve on – the comforts of our own home.
Adidas World of Sports Arena
This can be seen now in the way many large businesses provide facilities for staff to make their lives easier and, therefore, make them more productive and creative. Corporate gyms, childcare centers, breakout spaces, hairdressers, banks, and even bedrooms are all examples.
The more that workplaces respond to our needs, the smarter and better we can be. Green spaces certainly play an important role in this, giving employees an opportunity to relax between one meeting and the next, or just destress and enjoy their lunch. For this reason, they’ll increasingly be incorporated into office designs as a way of looking after the health and wellbeing of workers.
On top of all these trends, the de-densification of workplaces, in part brought about by the option of remote work, will go a long way to making them less chaotic and stressful. Digitalization will continue to give us greater flexibility in the way we do business, expanding networking options but without detracting from the option of meeting face-to-face in bricks-and-mortar locations. As a result, offices will be less personal and more resilient. Every workplace will need to be easily reconfigured in response to business needs.
We need to leave behind the inflexible, closed offices typical of last century. And perhaps open-space offices, which are overrated and already out of fashion, should go the same way. The future of offices is “smarter” than we imagine. Some of the examples we feature below – all from past editions of The Plan Award – demonstrate this, while also offering a brief overview of how we’re going to work in the future, starting today!
We’re sure that many of the trends highlighted here will again be a feature of the projects entered in the Office&Business category of The Plan Award 2021. This annual award, open to completed and future projects, was established to promote both the awareness and quality of the work of designers, academics, and students in the fields of architecture, design, and urban planning, while broadening the discussion of topical issues affecting the sector.
The Plan Award 2021 is divided into different categories, for each of which the Jury will decide one winner and, if appropriate, honorable mentions. The registration deadline is May 31.
All the following projects are from past editions of The Plan Award.
This skyscraper is a single cylindrical volume comprising two identical towers that are separate but enclosed within a single double-insulated glass envelope, which keeps the interior comfortable and protected from the extremes of Beijing’s weather. The space between the two towers extends upwards to their full height of 640 feet (194 m), creating the highest atrium in the world. The towers themselves both spiral around their vertical axes so that the upper floors are aligned with Lize Road.
Suspended walkways at various levels span the two structures, offering stunning views across the city. Leeza Soho has a total of almost 1.9 million square feet (172,800 m2) of floorspace on its 45 levels. The architects took advantage of BIM technology for its design, making it possible to reduce energy consumption and obtain LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Located in Ankara, Turkey, the OIZ Office was created for the administrative staff and board of directors of the Aerospace Specialized Organized Industrial Zone. The seed of its design idea is to bring nature into the workplace. The spaces are therefore arranged in clusters and integrated into internal gardens. These garden areas ensure that natural light reaches every corner of the building, somewhat blurring the distinction between inside and out. Every workstation has a small covered garden right next to it. The careful inclusion of green spaces in this office complex provides every user with a better work environment along with a sense of openness and space.
On the northern shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was inaugurated on June 23, 2019. Designed by 3XN, Olympic House provides office space for around five hundred IOC admin staff in a unique structure with great symbolic and technological value. The source of inspiration for the entire project was the five rings of the Olympic flag, designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1913.
The design brief set five key objectives: movement, transparency, flexibility, sustainability, and collaboration. In other words, the design involved translating the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement into architectural form. The curving, harmonious façade recalls the movements of athletes, while also allowing the building to closely integrate with the nearby 18th-century Château de Vidy.
This project involved translating the identity of a corporation whose core business is the digital dimension into material reality. An innovative language was needed, and the result was colors that denote functions, lines that are directional indicators, icons as signposts, and text messages as signage. This language made it possible to communicate information about the function of each space in an intuitive, immediate way, making the building as easy to navigate as a webpage.
This is expressed in the project’s “Wired Connections” slogan, which underscores how physical connections are nothing more than a material transposition of digital ones – the essence of the firm’s corporate identity.
Twenty years in the making, the adidas World of Sport campus was completed in 2019 in Herzogenaurach, Germany. The site includes an artificial lake, restaurant, offices, gym, conference room, and parking. Designed by Behnisch Architekten, the Arena is the office and reception building. Providing 560 thousand square feet (52,000 m2) of floorspace and accommodating around two thousand employees, the building embodies the identity of the entire corporate campus. Its non-traditional architecture offers a particularly flexible structure that can be readily adapted to everchanging needs. The ground level, hidden behind an artificial hill and comprising a central atrium, waiting room, conference area, and bistro, forms the architectural underpinning of the building while simultaneously being quite separate from the office spaces on the upper three floors.
This obvious division between the two parts of the complex was achieved through an innovative supporting structure consisting of 67 inclined steel and concrete pillars, arranged in V shapes and in groups of three or four. The glass stairwell in the center of the building acts as an invisible link and source of natural light for the entire complex. The three upper floors represent the heart of the design. Inside, the offices are divided into six clusters, arranged around a main walkway.
If you’ve designed an office building or conference facility – completed after January 1, 2018 or yet to be completed – you have until May 31 to register for the Office&Business category of The Plan Award 2021. Submit your project via the registration page.
All other credits relating to photos and render refer to individual articles.