Trends

Workplace Typologies


10 Oct , 2017  

Worktech Dubai’s 2017 edition saw some phenomenal presentations and insights from thought leaders in the field of workspaces, architecture, design and wellness. For those present, it was a truly enlightening experience; not only were visitors given a peek into latest practices and design methodologies, many left with questioning their existing knowledge on the topic.

Among the line-up of accomplished speakers was Primo Orpilla, co-founder of Studio O+A, the creative mind behind some of the most stunning offices in Silicon Valley, with the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and Uber among them. Primo was present at Worktech Dubai 2017 to share his thoughts and ideas on the latest trends and technologies gaining traction in the West Coast region. Among them included Typologies – A field guide of sorts to O+A design methodologies. The guide is a primer of sorts behind the design intent of different workspaces in an office. By no means does Primo, nor anyone at O+A, ever recommend a cookie-cutter approach to designing workspaces. Each type of work setting possesses a different energy and is meant to project it’s own unique vibe.

For those who missed it, we’ve rounded up some of the key points on Typologies, hoping to give you a sense of the process behind the aesthetic. From the 10, we’ve picked our 4 favorite spaces to delve into.

01 The Living Room

Like it’s fraternal twin in the residential space, the Living Room is perhaps the most inviting meeting space for small teams to brainstorm, discuss or simply relax. The tone of conversation is casual, yet intimate.

The beauty of the Living Room is its open meeting environment setting, allowing its design to depart from traditional meeting spaces.

The possibility of a discussion taking place and it being lightly interrupted by spontaneous interactions from people passing by lends a unique energy to the space. The attention in the room comes naturally, not forced like in formal settings, wherein lies the true effectiveness of the Living Room.

Arguably among the younger workplace settings in existence, the Living Room has found a firm place in start-ups and large tech firms owing to its casual nature.

Defining characteristics include lounge seating and tables to give a home-like feel. Plenty of soft seating with an emphasis on comfort and relaxation, the Living Room is identified easily by the type of furniture present.

Patterns of socializing depict behaviours that signal comfort and bonding. The absence of set borders allow for it to double as a social space, as well for engagement to take place between employees and visitors. According to the team at Studio O+A, the Living Room is an equalizer – there can be no head of the table, if there is no table.

The possibility of a discussion taking place and it being lightly interrupted by spontaneous interactions from people passing by lends a unique energy to the space. The attention in the room comes naturally, not forced like in formal settings, wherein lies the true effectiveness of the Living Room.

Arguably among the younger workplace settings in existence, the Living Room has found a firm place in start-ups and large tech firms owing to its casual nature.

Defining characteristics include lounge seating and tables to give a home-like feel. Plenty of soft seating with an emphasis on comfort and relaxation, the Living Room is identified easily by the type of furniture present.

Patterns of socializing depict behaviours that signal comfort and bonding. The absence of set borders allow for it to double as a social space, as well for engagement to take place between employees and visitors. According to the team at Studio O+A, the Living Room is an equalizer – there can be no head of the table, if there is no table.

02 Shelters

As the name suggests, Shelters provide respite to those looking to escape the everyday hustle and pressures of the office. What is perhaps the most neutral of the 10 typologies, Shelters provide a semi-private space of small teams or individuals to work solo, but not too much so as to disconnect from the office.

An interesting feature of Shelter’s is its ability to energize a space by dividing it into unexpected ways.

Shelters almost always stand-out, yet are designed and integrated very cleverly into a space to convey the right message ; colleagues know better than to interrupt a user in a Shelter unless necessary. Depending on the design, the degree of privacy may vary, but can adapt to spontaneous meetings, solo work and even naps.

Defining characteristics include free-standing structures or areas clearly delineated from regular office space – its function is to separate users from daily office traffic. Shelters are visually arresting: an office tree-house, tent like structures, and encamped areas with reclining seats.

Patterns of socializing depend on the users; small teams may want to brainstorm and engage in discussion, while individuals may simply want to focus or unwind.

03 Library

What seems like a response to the ubiquitous open-plan approach, the Library has one simple rule: you may work, but keep the conversations to yourself. Silence and the subsequent focus that it engenders is valued above all else. According to Primo, “the Library is the Private Office democratised. Anyone can occupy this space.” It recognizes a basic human need to slow down, and provides a space to do just this.

A Library will almost always be an enclosed space.

While traditional libraries have books that adorn the walls and shelves, the digital age and rise of the internet has made books redundant. Nevertheless, a Library honours its scholarly roots with book inspired graphics. Important elements include comfortable seating, benching and efficient lighting.

Patterns of behaviour involve actions and conduct and signal contemplative thinking and work. Employees or teams may do the research here, but may move on to a think tank to hash out the plan.

04 Anywhere Space

An ‘Anywhere’ Space is a re-examination of what a designer or a space planner can do with a given space. These areas are designed to maximize the functionality and aesthetic value of unconventional spaces such as staircases or alleyways, so they fit nicely with the overall aesthetic of the space.

Prime case studies include the central staircase at Evernote.

The team at O+A surprised everyone by suggesting the large space into a casual meeting space, by installing cushioned seating tracks on one side of the steps. The cushions offer a place to follow-through after a spontaneous encounter with a colleague to settle and chat.

It’s hard to place a finger on what exactly will become an Anywhere Space. In Primo’s experience, they’ve mostly been transitional or utility spaces. Adding an additional layer of function to these spaces increases the return on investment on the real estate. According to Primo, “The Anywhere Typology begins with the idea that there are no ‘dead zones’ in a building – hallways, stairways, lobbies, spaces between departments are all potentially dynamic work areas”.

Patterns of behaviour are quite similar to Living Room spaces, with the difference being the level of spontaneity that’s allowed. You’ll find plenty of writable surfaces in Anywhere Spaces to allow for free thinking and spontaneous expression.

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