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Biophilic Workspace

Unit C 2015-16

Undergraduate Design Studio at Oxford Brookes University


Barry Wark, 

Maria Knutsson-Hall

Technology has always fundamentally revolutionised the spaces and ways in which we work and it is impossible to ignore that another change is well underway with the advent of the internet. As a workforce we have never been so connected, informed or empowered by technology. This has given rise to entirely new professions working exclusively in this digital arena with the majority of the us also fully engaged and reliant on it.

However, with these advances what have we lost? Weirdly with increased efficiency and
communication we are still spending more time at work as a society and Robert Owens “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest”1 is well and truly lost. The result is that we are marginalising basic human needs such as societal relationships , health, diet and importantly within the context of the Unit C agenda , our bond with nature.

Our workspaces have been becoming increasingly devoid of nature for a very long time as they became more industrialised and urban. It could be argued that our disconnect with nature is being worsened further by this digital immersion and extended time at work.
As a reaction to these issues Unit C will investigate the workplace through addressing the
following areas:

Provide Biophilic + Human needs
With societies work habits not looking to change anytime soon, what more do our places of work need to offer beyond a desk and staff kitchen? The tangible benefits of nature is our
workplaces is well documented and proven in increasing productivity, employee happiness and reducing sick days2 However putting a green wall in an office atrium with a few plants around will not be enough to fulfil notions of relationships, diet, exercise and recreation. The unit will investigate the potential of hybridised programmes and typologies to make these fundamental human needs more accessible in our working day.

Re-imagine our workplaces of the future empowered by technology
Technological advances in the last 10 years has given rise to questions surrounding the
appropriateness of the current spaces in which we do our work. Personal devices and the internet have the power to change the way in we do our jobs, we can effectively take our desks with us wherever we go. This has allowed the possibility of remote working for a small number of people, however should this instead be considered the norm? . How could this dynamic way of working shape the workspaces of the future to incorporate notions of flexible hours and spaces? What is the office of the future?

Energy Efficient Workspaces
Our offices are very energy hungry and often wasteful as we heat, cool, ventilate, light and power a variety of different spaces. Unit C will attempt to alleviate these energy demands by
incorporating a new way of thinking about our workspaces and through looking to biomimetic principles. By examining nature we will devise structural, material, spatial and environmental
mediation systems to passively create appropriate conditions for us to conduct our daily business.

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