As the post-pandemic generation of the workplace takes shape, office comfort is fast becoming its main selling point. But that can’t just mean big, comfy ‘working’ sofas and a few scatter cushions. With the hybrid options of home, office, or third space on the table, the majority of employees still choose to spend a large proportion of their working time together, benefitting from the community feeling and creative atmosphere, but most of all the professional working environment and interior. So while comfortably cozy spaces help them feel at home, the traditional set-up with individual desks and chairs for quiet focus, can’t be underestimated
With rising rental rates and major firms already in the process of downsizing to survive the digital work era, only flexibly and adaptably designed workplaces can provide both comfortable and focused typologies.
When additional space is required quickly, easily accessible shipping containers are quick, simple, and cheap to set up. At this car service center in Nonthaburi, Thailand, for example, six containers have been stacked and arranged appropriately for car servicing and accompanying offices, as well as hospitality and more office space above.
Creating a pleasant interior inside what is essentially a metal box can be difficult. To counter the heat, metal sunshades were installed above and alongside the metal exterior, while large glass windows and doors let in light, with the containers’ hinged doors retained as shutters for control and security.
While the reuse of materials is unquestionably better environmentally, those who question if steel shipping containers can really provide desirable architectural materials need only refer to the Kohmlan office redesign in Cieplewo, Poland, where mode:lina has recreated the container look in bright color contrasts for memorable visitor and employee experiences.
Workplaces that pop (up)
In the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, BVN New York was struck by the wealth of plywood in the city (used to barricade shopfronts), now destined for landfill. By using the material to form adaptable outdoor furniture kits, the studio helped to rebuild community spirit and local hospitality venues were able to stay open amidst ongoing pandemic restrictions.
With simple-to-assemble and easy-to-adapt furniture kits, the process was re-purposed during London’s Clerkenwell Design Week, taking spare wood and acrylic from Second Home’s recent office renovation to quickly build ‘pop-up’ outdoor workplaces.
Simple to assemble, meanwhile, is not often a phrase used to describe the more traditional pop-up architecture, tents. Without the inevitably accompanying wind and rain inside an office building, however, Steelcase’s series of Work Tents are a doddle to put up, and light enough to move easily, transferring comfortable and connective open workspaces into visually private areas for more concentrated activity. Now you just need the campfire and marshmallows.
As anyone who’s been camping can attest, life inside a tent can be hot, stuffy, and loud. Steelcase’s Work Tents feature wide entrances and open tops to improve airflow, but for quiet, focused activities, work pods combine the solidity of enclosed acoustic walls and lockable doors with heating and ventilation. Some, like Hushoffice’s Workpod, are also attached with castors to reposition themselves wherever they’re needed most.
Ever since our school days, when the teacher – in a sudden burst of uncharacteristic humanity – took the lesson outside, the feeling of summer FOMO while stuck at a desk inside has stayed with us. These days, however, anywhere can be a workplace – a laptop and internet connection are all you need. With outdoor environments often in shade or dwindling afternoon light, suitable work lighting is an easily overlooked necessity. At 2kg, the lightweight, rechargeable Luctra Biological light can be transported (inside or out) around the home or temporary office area, bringing adjustable light to wherever the work is.
Work outdoors. Even when you’re not
When many companies refer to their outdoor workspaces, what they really mean is outdoor break-from-work spaces. This Biophilic Office in Indonesia is no different, where the only area fully open to the elements is a rooftop garden. Although under cover and protected, the building’s use of wide, tall windows and doors, open water, lattice wicker, and brickwork, combine to offer the feeling of being outside with the protection of indoors. In the dry heat of Turkey, the outdoor environment surrounding ATES WIND POWER’s HQ is not as pleasurable. Instead, D.A.Architects built outdoor space inside the aircraft-hanger-sized building, with what feels like an onsite biological garden for employees to meet, communicate, socialize and relax.