“The fundamental notion of what work is has shifted”

The office is a typology dominated by the plan: efficiency, marketability, endlessly multiplied vertically. It is therefore inseparable from the economy it implies. At the same time, the development and evolution of the office is deeply indebted to technological innovations. However, it is deeply tied to its social and historical context: as more and more emphasis is placed on innovation and creativity, various modes of working – brainstorming sessions, video-conferencing, cross-disciplinary collaborations, telecommuting,etc – have challenging the office organizational and spatial definition of the office plan.

The idea of work has also come to encompass activities beyond what is commonly associated with the office. Informal meeting areas such as lounges, cafes, even ping-pong tables are opportunities for casual encounters that may spark new ideas and collaboration.

Leisure and work: no more distinctionLyon Par-Dieu Offices

New terms such as playbour, enterprise gamification and hackathons suggest a general “ludification” of work, the merging of leisure and obligation. The worksphere has become one big social playground, its players, a hybrid troop of nomadic urbanites – dressed up with a menagerie of technologies.

Intimacy and individuality within the masses – Hertzberger’s Centraal Beheer

Therefore, the changing definition of work today demands a new conception of the office space. The increasing integration of informality, pleasure and even play – notions often seen as the antithesis of work – into the office has profound implications on the architectural evolution of the workplace. With the contemporary office population being mobile and unstable, it make perfect sense to think of office spaces being used in varying degrees, generating new types of specificity and flexibility.

However, while the relentless monotony of efficient planning kills morale, too much play can also be counterproductive and economically unfeasible. The design of an office building and search for a new architectural paradigm is therefore a game: a give-and-take between the generic and the specific, between the economy of the grid and the added-value of spatial exceptions, between the desire for maximizing floor space and the responsibility for creating inspiring environment.

notes from A-typical plan, Jeannette Kuo

Fluidity, Openness, Bluriness: a game between privacy and collectivity – Logan Headquarters