Benjamin Koslowski, Chris Radley and Sam Ki from Fletcher Priest Architects – co-winners of the 2020 BCO NextGen Design Competition – give us the lowdown on their entry ‘FutureWork’.
How would you describe your vision of the future workplace?
When the pandemic first hit remote working was, once again, hailed as the future of work – with endless predictions about how our patterns of work were shifting permanently. While we believe remote working will bring about a positive cultural shift in attitude towards working from home, we also have seen over the past year just how valuable face-to-face interaction and physical collaboration is.
The workplace is fundamentally interlinked with the bigger crises we are dealing with
Collaboration technology will be a driving force in helping to build a nicely blended workplace that effectively bridges the gap between the physical and remote workplace.
How did you arrive at this ‘vision’?
The animation is the result of all of our experiences across the first lockdown in March 2020. We all spent a lot of time gathering feedback from our colleagues, too, on what the industry needs to improve. As designers and researchers, we quickly saw the need to cut through the surveys and reports and think practically about things spatially – in terms of location and distribution, but also in terms of mix and uses.
2020 had started with a real momentum in our discussions about the climate crisis, and this has always influenced our thinking. And in turn, the FutureWork thinking is influencing our discussions and design projects going forward.
Have you had much feedback from industry peers?
We often use our submission as a prompt in our discussions with colleagues and clients to discuss long-term shifts in the industry and present our thinking about the future workplace. Our animation is intended to encourage us all to look at the bigger picture and think holistically about the workplace and its role in society – whether that workplace is at home, a local café or in a shared professional space.
The global response to the pandemic gives us reason for optimism
Across all our conversations, though, we’ve been struck by the shared understanding that the workplace is fundamentally interlinked with the bigger crises we are dealing with at the moment i.e. the climate emergency, the health emergency and social inequities.One of the challenges we discussed with people is how we can think more broadly about equality and consider work within and outside of the context of just “the office”.
Which is the biggest problem facing us?
For us, it is less a question of the ‘bigger problem’ and more so about how we can tackle the multiple challenges effectively, without allowing a single issue to dominate – because they are all so closely interlinked. For example, unsustainable patterns of consumption and bad working and housing conditions really exacerbated the health crisis last year, and demonstrated the close connection between health, environmental and social challenges. We really want to encourage others to view the challenges we currently face as one big challenge, as opposed to a series of problems.
With attentions so focused on the pandemic, there is a concern that the climate crisis will be put to the back of the queue.
But at the same time, the global response to the pandemic gives us reason for optimism. The rapid development of multiple vaccines, for example, can perhaps serve to demonstrate what can be achieved when lives and livelihoods are under serious threat. A key challenge that remains is to treat the climate crisis and social inequity with the same level of urgency.
To find out about the other BCO NextGen competition winner, click here.
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