The 2021 version of the office space
While December often rhymes with yearly review and setup some new objectives, January is usually dedicated to prediction and forecast for the time ahead. Of course Covid leads every possible discussion and give an easy way out for aspiring forecaster with “post Covid vs past Covid” prediction. The only subject that could merely compete with Covid prediction is “would Trump succeed to do something even more stupid than the week before?”, but I would rather not go that way.
No different than anybody else, I am curious to see how 2021 will unwind for physical places, more specifically offices. Suffering from a severe Zoom fatigue and tinted with an hope that Vaccin will soon allow us to slowly reopen buildings, my imagination is fuelled with ideas of what it will look like;
We can all agree that the old era was centred on productivity built around Open spaces, fish ball meeting room, and “inspiring print” on the wall. But the new era tend to be more like lego where users (employee / clients / etc.) build and shape a more modulable space around their needs. As we will slowly get back to the office, safety questions will remain until the pandemic is contained, hence taking ownership of the pace and being parts of the construction will help us trust those place. Seamless flexibility will also play an important role in the new era; a dedicated area should have the opportunity to transition between a meeting room, a workshop room, or a co-working space. The flexibility will spark serendipity but also help company downsize their retail footprint. The new available spaces let empty by companies will be reallocated to new housing area, giving the opportunity to employees to leave closer to their office and to avoid long hour commute. The new offices will not be gather in one central business district anymore but instead spread among several location.
- Make way for the one minute city: A city in Sweden decided to give back some urban planing power to its residents allowing them to organise “the space outside their front door”. The initiative gives local communities a street furniture kit (designed to fit the dimensions of a standard parking space) to organise the street according to their needs. The idea is to reinforced a sens of neighbourhoods consultation and tackles hyper local problems.
- How can physical space foster unexpected connections in a digital world? The team behind the renovation of the Milan’s Centre for Digital Culture and Creative Technology investigates how physical space can foster serendipity and unexpected interpersonal connections in our increasingly digitised world. According to Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and Italo Rota teams, architecture will be the answer; “One way to achieve this is to overcome any strict division of spatial functions. When every place can serve multiple purposes, it brings together multiple communities, facilitating the generation and circulation of new ideas.”
- The future of offices when workers have a choice: Most office activity will not move to homes or to the cloud. Instead, it is likely to be redistributed within and between cities, with a variety of new employment areas popping up and saving many people the trouble of simultaneous commuting to a central business district.