Technology, wellbeing and placemaking were all to the fore last night as Next Gen practitioners unveiled their capital ideas for the future of work at a PechaKucha session held in Shoreditch’s Trampery.
Trampery founder Charles Armstrong introduced the evening, noting that there had been a significant shift away from giant companies to start-ups, with a more nomadic workforce expecting more from their workplaces, but set against a background of ‘acute’ affordability pressures. ‘The next decade will be a period of quite remarkable innovation in the kinds of spaces we provide for people to work in’, he said.
Ideas included HawkinsBrown architect Jack Stewart’s presentation on ‘ecosystems’ of the kind he is hoping to create at Here East to attract the ‘butcher, baker, candlestick maker’ with a ‘life support system’. ‘Here East is about the collision between big and small’, said Stewart. ADP project architect Riccardo Giusti looked at the possible impact of virtual reality on the office environment to ease the pressure on central London, while KPF architect Guillermo Grauvogel suggested that connectivity and flexibility were key to the city’s success. Ben Adams Architects architectural assistant Leni Popovici said there is a ‘real need for workspaces to give back to the employee’ with wellness being a key ingredient to increase employee engagement, while Finbar Bradley of Innes Associates suggested that neo-Victorian warehousing could provide a typology to work for all building types and bring ‘ultimate flexibility’.
Artiq’s Jamie Livingstone made the case for workplace art, claiming that allowing more of it can make for a more productive, happy and more engaged workforce. Indeed, following a nine-month study it proved that those who had been ‘empowered’ to choose their own artworks had enjoyed a 14.3% increase in ‘perceived productivity’, which paid for the artworks themselves many times over. To facilitate this, Artiq developed new software to allow staff to vote on and, importantly, talk about art.
Other ideas ranged from Cushman and Wakefield’s Henry Stuttaford on retrofitting car parks for new uses, to Architecture PLB architect’s Darren Wilson’s thesis on ‘parasitic nodes’, to NBBJ architect Krissi Dullehan’s ‘Flashwork’, a tongue-in-cheek idea for a portable desk held on by a neck strap that drew inspiration from ice cream sellers in cinemas of yesteryear.
The GLA Regeneration Team’s Levent Kerimol commended all the ideas, noting how much had referred to the past for inspirations for the future, but also how a ‘deep rooted connection to physical spaces’ continues to be part of the offices of today and tomorrow.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly