Typology, technology and the architectural profession
With flexible and distance work becoming increasingly attractive options, places of work are now not only competing with the home, but with every shared workspace, library, café and public space between the home and the office. To remain relevant, places of work must offer something beyond what their competitors can provide.
We need to reimagine the workplace offering.
Through our research-based design practice, UNStudio has been investigating how workplace design can not only accommodate different ways of creating value, but also create better experiences of our working lives. Our goal is to build healthy places that can improve the professional experience while ensuring local environments are proactively integrated.
On another level, as a design firm that fully embraces digital technology to improve and accelerate architectural output, we also need to consider how the architectural profession itself is changing. What will the role of the architect become in the future?
From the digital future of the architectural profession, to the workspaces we design, to the healthiest strategies that can sustain a positive workforce, our Future of Work report investigates the overlap between work and architecture.
Article: The Future of Work is Human
By UNStudio Founder & Principal Architect, Ben van Berkel
“The difficulty (beyond the technical complexities of retrofitting or the urgent need to design for a circular economy) is that ‘working’ as we used to imagine it in the industrial era has almost completely faded away. We used to consider that “bringing home the bacon”, working nine-to-five, and only working for one company alone was the trajectory for most of our lives. As a result, a lot of older work spaces are no longer fit for the purpose, being designed only as places of production.”
As the world of work changes, what is around the corner for the architectural profession? There is no doubt that architectural output is bolstered by the digital tools at our fingertips. But as the role of computational design grows, we architects need to ask ourselves whether the human touch, ideation, stakeholder engagement and craftsmanship will become the crux of our profession.
Beyond these developments, what will changing working conditions, client expectations and processes mean for the workspaces that we design? Framed by these questions, we sat with UNStudio Founder & Principal Architect Ben van Berkel, Associate Director & Senior Architect Marianthi Tatariand Senior Architect & Associate Harlen Miller to discuss how designers and architects can best prepare themselves for the changing future of their profession, as well as how to employ informed judgement when using digital tools to designing workspaces.
Research: Exploring healthy designs for the home & office
With most of our time split between our offices and our homes, designers need to create healthy systems for buildings that people want to work in. As part of an ongoing collaboration between our UNS Knowledge and UNS Product teams, we have been researching and investigating this topic with an aim of understanding what design can do to bring about healthier lived experiences.
Our findings conclude that while prolonged exposure to poor air quality, artificial lighting and excess ambient noise can negatively affect our health and wellbeing, access to plant life can significantly boost cognition and performance. As well as this, the way in which buildings and products are designed or arranged can have a large impact on our lifestyles in subconscious ways, encouraging or repressing movement and healthy habits. When applied to places of work, these strategies can boost both productivity and well-being for workers.
With major multifunctional office buildings under construction across the globe, we are putting our healthy workplace research into practice to create social and cultural vibrancy. From the TBC Forum in Georgia to the wasl Tower in Dubai, and from NEO: Baumkirchen Mitte in Munich and FOUR Frankfurt– not to mention the Booking.com Headquarters in Amsterdam, we are constructing spaces that can act as communicative, memorable and social catalysts, with a flexibility that can accommodate the changing ways that workers are expected to produce value in the future.
By taking cues from their local surroundings and integrating these motifs into their designs, our ambition with these buildings is for them to become culturally evocative and enriching experiences. As well as this, through design strategies like designing active, transparent plinths or opening up new parts of a city, our designs create welcoming environments for local communities, adding value and vibrancy to cities they were designed for.
Interview : The changing world of work & urban design with UNS Urban
Are cities a means to an end? The end being human productivity? What is the relationship between urban design and work? To answer these questions, we need to understand who the worker is, when and where they work, as well as what it means to be productive today. As we change from valuing physical labor to knowledge and even emotional work, we need to consider how cities are being re-designed to bring about this kind of value. We sat with our urban design team to understand what the changing world of work will mean for urban design, and what we can do to bring about, as Jane Jacobs put it, the “organized chaos” that make cities alluring, exciting and attractive places for workers to live in.
“Work is never a secluded, isolated element. It is always part of a bigger system, connected to mobility, public infrastructure, living, or even the third space between working and living, like cafes, libraries, and public spaces where interactions happen. So, cities are like a framework that is organized but that also allows for change and flexibility. A lot of cities need to make a change now and reimagine how they should function, and that’s kind of our role. We think about change a lot.” Maria Zafeiriadou, Urban Designer, Associate.
Collaboration: UNS Futures investigate scenarios for the future work with USM
Across four collaborative projects with Swiss furniture designer USM, UNS Futures is exploring the shifting boundaries between work and domesticity, now and in the future with #makingplaces. Since 2017, UNS and USM have investigated the flexible mechanisms that can repurpose the USM Haller System across scales, hosted creative sessions to ideate about what the future of work/life has in store, as well as produced a host of multimedia thought pieces to share their findings.
Join in the discussion, and explore the architectural installations, interior design mechanisms, adaptable products, podcasts, articles and videos on the #makingplaces website.
Amsterdam Office: UNS 115 opens to the public
Innovation needs to have a place, ideas need to be tested, and workplace innovation itself needs to have a beta-model. UNS 115 is the experimental lab within the UNStudio office in Amsterdam that can accommodate just that. Referring to the building's number along the Stadhouderskade in Amsterdam, UNS 115 creates an agile, expressive and multifunctional workspaces that can provide for different working needs, whether active or focused, collaborative or quiet, we want to open up opportunities for creatives to produce their best work.
We have four goals for how people will experience UNS 115. This will be a melting-pot where people can connect, collaborate, create and concentrate. As a space, UNS 115 is open and extroverted, while also introverted, focused and familiar. This is a place where people can meet and share knowledge, ideas and experiences. While UNStudio employees will predominantly occupy the space, it will also be open to local startups, artists, creatives, academics, innovators and everyone in between. As such, UNS 115 is a dynamic incubator space. Users are free to test agile facilities according to the occasion. From an inspirational exhibition to a collaborative design lab, and from an isolated focus area to a playful artisan workshop.
Beyond being an incubator, UNS 115 is imagined as a public cultural space. We want to open up this space to the surrounding Amsterdam neighborhood. It will create an open program that welcomes -from time to time- a variety of groups, from architectural and art institutions, to other enterprises and universities. But above all, it will serve as an agile meeting space for client visits, brainstorm sessions and launches. To achieve UNS 115, we renovated one of the former UNStudio office buildings in the heart of De Pijp in Amsterdam. Within UNS 115, we will observe how the dynamics and configurations of the space effect the well-being of its users. As such, UNS 115 is not a static space, but a changeable and dynamic urban platform that resonates with UNStudio’s philosophy.
Join us: Work at UNStudio
Are you an aspiring young architect, design student or business strategist? Perhaps you are a seasoned creative professional looking to work on next level projects... Read on!
Together, We are UNStoppable
UNStudio has a dynamic, diverse and challenging working environment. We do what we say, we deliver what we promise, we respect each other, we are humane, and bottom-line: we are nice people to work with. Globally operating with offices across four continents, we currently have a variety of openings for creative thinkers and designers to join our team. From Architecture and Design to Business Development and Communications, the door is open for enthusiastic and talented individuals to come and innovate with us.
Together, We Design The Future
In a world that is constantly in flux, we design the future we want to live in. Our work is not driven by form alone, but by an understanding of the world we want to create. Resilience and foresight is part our DNA. The dynamic nature of our practice enables the exploration of new territories and the adaptation to future challenges.
Together, We Learn and Evolve
At UNStudio, we value diversity and communality, striving for an office culture that is collaborative and open with a diversity of nationalities and interests. By welcoming the best talent from around the globe, together we share knowledge and develop as individuals and as teams. We advocate for a healthy balance at the office by organizing yoga classes, soccer practices and film nights, weekly sharing sessions, in-house lectures and talks from design experts. At UNStudio there is something for everyone.