“this open, ‘collaborative’ environment, where worker drones so nicely sit in poise out in the open while click-clacking on their computers, creates an atmosphere where people become desensitized to being on display. [...] Sitting and thinking is actually frowned upon as being a waste of productivity. Why are you just sitting there? Why are you not talking, or typing, or writing, or drawing, or multitasking?”
Consider the contemporary office. White floors, minimalist style, no pesky walls getting in the way – just pure, unadulterated openness.
From our assembly-line past has emerged an increasingly consumer-oriented world, in which collaboration and gregariousness are valuable commodities. As a result, offices that resemble art galleries – with the employees on display – have become the norm, and while this sociable environment is energizing for the extrovert, for the introvert, it’s crippling.
In my last article, “In Defense of Introverts,” I posited that learning modalities, which better incorporate our introverted brethren, could revolutionize classroom design. In this one, I expand the concept to that of working modalities: an answer for office design that would engender an office culture sensitive to introverted rhythms and – at last – expand the way we conceive of creativity and innovation as a purely extroverted enterprise.
So far, I’ve cited the merits of the playground – the loudest, craziest, most running-aroundiest environment for kids you can imagine – as a point of inspiration for school design.
I think I’ve uncovered a bias. In me, and in architecture at large.
For years, Western culture has valued and rewarded natural born extroverts in its effort to breed out-going, sociable, go-get-’em type citizens. (For two intelligent, chuckle-inducing narratives on the plight of the introvert, check out Jonathan Rauch’s touchstone piece in The Atlantic and Susan Cain‘s fabulous TED Talk).
In my zeal to present solutions to the obstacles facing education, I too got caught in the trap. To rectify this situation, I will – once again – examine schools; but this time, I take a more balanced approach. Today I take into account that bullied, forgotten group: introverts.