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The etymology of the word office is derived from Opus- work and Facere- do, which is officium, a performance of a task. Hence office is used in Middle English.
Throughout history, office spaces existed in some manner, whether it may be in the form of physical form or Human form. The primary role of the office was to conduct some administration work. It is said that Rome is known as the primary place where the offices first emerged. But it was in the 18th century when the actual formation of architectural office building typology was developed. It was organizations such as the Royal Navy and East India Company were established to further Britain’s interest overseas and a central base of operation was needed, thus the establishment of the offices was done.
In the past period, the term office and its nature were seen strictly as a formal, strict, mass production work type. Where the employer was treated as a laborer to some extent. But different periods such as industrialization, and the development of new materials and construction systems gave us some landmarks and iconic office buildings that were made from concrete, steel, and glass.
Eventually with the realization to care for the employers and the well-being of the employees is as important, many office plans were designed and executed from strict rigid plans to open floor plans to flexible plans and ultimately questioning the nature of office topology because of COVID-19 and sudden rise in the climate change made architects and designers think about the application of sustainability, technology and wellbeing in the office typology.
Evolution Of Office Design
1900: Taylorist Office
The office plan included fitting up more desks so that more workers could be accommodated and management of the office is done. Frank Llyod Wright is credited for this office development. In this building, the air conditioning system was placed. The Larkin Administrative building in this office was much like the factory production system which had the assembly-like nature which produced the products related Industrial revolution.
1910-1930: The Pre-War Social Democratic Office
After the office building like the taylorist the emergence of the concrete offices started. Architect Mies Van Der Rohe started designing these concrete offices and also developed the window design where the natural light could penetrate in. One of the notable examples could be Friedrichstrasse, where the idea was to separate the exterior skeleton from the internal planning, where the concept was of skin and bones. This was a visionary project where it boldly used glass and steel as a new architectural language.
The 1930s: Streamlined Office
This period was when more space-efficient designs were thought of. It was based on efficiency and speed rather than organization and manufacture. These streamlined offices were of European-style structure and were modern and rich, warm spaces for workers.
One example could be Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax Building, which finished in 1939. The most notable element was a mushroom column which acted as the stormwater drains. These concrete pads which act as mushroom column are joined together by Pyrex glass tubing, which allows ample natural indirect light giving a creative environment.
The 1950s: Open-Plan Offices
In this period, the usage of glass, steel, and further advancements in construction was adapted, along with the usage of air -conditioning and fluorescent lighting was used. This typology led to a decrease in the natural light and more corporate culture started developing.
The 1950s: Burolandshaft
The word transfers into the meaning “ Office Landscape”. This was the period where the strict, rigid structure was eradicated and introduced to the office landscape, which consisted of free and open plans of furniture scattered in large, loosely,unstrucally divided spaces. And with this more flexible in nature, offices started to develop. This followed the structuralist office and the cubicle farm in 1980. Then came the virtual office topology. A notable example of this typology is the British Telecom Office in Stockley Park.
The 2000s: The Casual Office
The concept of casual office was first seen in the implementation in the creative industries to make the production more creative and innovative. Offices like Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Google, and Yahoo with more were seen applying casual office styles in which the spaces were more personalized and designed for individual departments, giving the employer freedom for more creative and critical thinking. While this type of planning was encouraged in 2010, activity-based working came into play, whereas the earlier typology was criticized for stating that an open plan created more distractions.
And with these, the pandemic hit globally where the definition of the office got shattered, and we were forced to rethink the office environmet.In this, social distancing and work from home methodology, many studies had shown that employers were able to generate more efficient work.
With these, Workplace 3.0 was introduced, where the focus was on wellbeing, sustainability, and technology.
Examples Illustrating New Office Typology
Pasona Group, Tokyo Headquarters
The human resource company office has used its office space to grow over 200 different species of fruits, vegetables, and rice which are then fed to the employee. The office space includes around 1000 square foot rice paddy, an okra field, a tomato guest room, vegetable factory filled with hundreds of hydroponic lettuces. Fruit trees have been used to partition meeting rooms and bean sprouts prop up. The concept is of creating mixed work and farm space as companies. The designer as that “it is built around the philosophy of communicating concepts through function and materiality”.
This workplace is the concept of reflection of New Age Office Interiors. The concept was of careful workspace layout and strategic use of design philosophy. The layout is also placed in such a way that private spaces, such as meeting rooms and public spaces, are juxtaposed with workstations and collaborative.
Designing Of Office Building Through Concept Of Sustainability And Feng Shui
Generally, sustainable design has many facets such as waste management, recycling, less energy consumption, indoor environmental quality, transportation, and many more but five fundamental concepts sum up the whole larger concept of sustainability. They are –
Constructivism- An approach that uses cognitive psychology and social psychology that create space to increase interaction, knowledge, and skills with their surroundings.
Circular Design- It is now a widely known and discussed topic in almost every field. It approaches the idea of “cradle to Cradle” which in the new design paradigm is to reduce, recycle, and reuse.
Energy Efficiency- This could be achieved through the site planning and managing of the materials, as well as the amount of artificial light or any other energy which is used, which should be reduced.
Natural and Built environment- The right amount of balance between the natural and built environment brings positivity and boosts creativity and there is a huge impact on the result and working environment of the employee working there.
Global thinking and buying locally As the name suggests global thinking and buying locally helps and promotes not only medium-scale manufacturers but also small-scale manufacturers and if the majority of people started implementing in this manner, the economy of the country would be uplifted.
Feng Shui Concept
It is a Chinese concept that dates back approximately three decades ago. The concept refers to the harmonious and balanced relationship between humans and nature. In this concept, there are five concepts as below-
Unity between Heaven and Human- Harmony between the universe, earth, and human energy, where the energy is identified in both tangible and non-tangible forms.
Five Elements Cycles- The five elements are fire, water, metal, wood, and earth, which have productive and destructive cycles.
Yin and Yang Harmony- In this concept, it is believed that everything has positive and negative in it. Yin is the passive side which represents the darkness and cold, and Yang is the active side which is the balance and harmony within spaces.
Form School Model- This mainly teaches one about the environment in which they are surrounded and how carefully we can use those surroundings which less damage.
The balance between Interior and Exterior Spaces- Here it is mainly seen as the relationship between the outer form and inner form. The outer form is identified as the site location, topography, and shape of the site. An inner form is identified as building elevation, building elements, and landscape. Hence, it is necessary to create and maintain the balance between both of these aspects.
Relation between sustainable design and Feng Shui concept
Both these concepts have similarities and differences in them. For instance, the concepts of constructivism are related to and similar to harmony and balance between the universe, earth, and human in the Feng Shui concept.
Below is the diagram illustrating the same.
Apple Park as a case-
The apple park is the most suitable example which follows the concept of sustainable design and Feng Shui concept.
Located in Cupertino, California, it is spread around 175 acres with a 2.8 million square foot main building and 100% renewable energy. With largest naturally ventilated building ever. With facilities such as 17 MW on-site solar power, 9,000 drought resistance trees, and a 100,000 square foot fitness center. This new campus is carefully crafted with the details such as energy use, landscape, environment, and health for the employers to boost creativity.
The world is more aware than ever and has started taking the necessary steps to improve, reduce and prevent further damage. Office buildings are vital places to create, innovate, bond, improve, and evolve, and hence we as a designer must keep both the environmental and mental health of clients while designing such spaces.