This week, 2008 Pritzker Prize laureate Jean Nouvel is expressing his vision for the workspaces of the future at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. Nouvel was asked by Cosmit, the Salone's parent company, to create a huge project tailored specifically to the Saloni that would document the tremendous changes that have altered living and working spaces over the past few years. Nouvel responded with a project that "frees up the office space" and is a "counter to urban segregation and the zoning of other specially dedicated workplaces." He achieves these goals in his design by rejecting cloned and enclosed spaces as well as serial repetitiveness, suggesting more cohesive formulas that will better serve the domestic and international workplaces of the future.
More from Cosmit on "Project: office for living" after the break.
“In 30 or 40 years time we will be stunned to see just how unliveable most of today’s offices really were,” says Jean Nouvel. “Grotesque clones, standardisation, totalitarianism, never the merest hint of being pleasurable to inhabit.”
This concept of "pleasure in office living" is what drives Nouvel's project as he explores new materials and technologies that create comfortable, effective, user-friendly and ecologically-aware environments with "small pleasures" like light regulation, emplacements, views and individual expression through furniture and objects. He believes that we need to learn to inhabit our offices the way that we inhabit our homes and cities, since most of us spend just as much time at work as at home.
Nouvel explains that “we can work, and will increasingly work, in apartments, in our own apartments, in converted warehouses. If we were to work in office skyscrapers, we would have to invent spaces impregnated with generosity, receptive to each and everybody’s universes and personalisations.”
The project showcases several different work environments that are very different from the traditional office we are used to, marked by urban segregation and functional cloning. Within the SaloneUfficio, a monolith will rise showing 4 video-portraits of a film director, a philosopher, an artist and a writer raising concerns and giving their views on office space. This will lead to 5 completely unique scenarios showing just how out-of-date our perceptions of the office can be.
A classic apartment, completely transformed into a working environment and done up in an unltra-modern style is the first scenario the visitor encounters. Because the space is at the human scale, it is more user-friendly and "pleasurable" than a repetitive, standardized office. This is an example of creating one's own nest at work, inspiring a feeling of comfort and reassurance.
The second scene consists of interconnected office that are set out logically and structurally but have an underlying free-form to them. It is characterized by sliding walls, folding doors, careful lighting, moveable blinds, accessories that can be hung or removed from the walls and an overall sense of flexibility that the spaces can be manipulated to suit a company or employee's individual needs.
The third is a converted warehouse which optimizes on space and further reflects the increasing trend of working from home.
Heterogeneity is the key to the final scene, made up of mobile, modular and stackable flat surfaces and shelving that can be piled up and perched on and rearranged every which way. This creates an almost cityscape atmosphere and the collection of materials, ranging from aluminum to plexiglass, take on their own heterogeneity and innovativeness.
Lastly, a laboratory pays homage to light and demonstrates light's capabilities that can be harnessed and exploited within a space. It experimental and theoretical aura counters that of today's standard office lighting system.
Nouvel believes that the architect’s job is to "interpret the technical, cultural and social changes of the age in which we live and to express them poetically in a quest for freedom.” This is what "Project: office for living" hopes to express, inspiring others to rethink the way we inhabit and utilize our workspaces.