Platform 5 is an award winning architectural practice founded in 2006. They have a diverse portfolio of projects in the residential, education, commercial and cultural sectors. The firm designed the Shoffice (shed + office), a garden pavilion containing a small office alongside garden storage space. The glazed office space nestles into an extruded timber elliptical shell, reminiscent of a wood shaving that unfurls to form a small terrace in the lawn. The interior is oak lined and fitted out with a cantilevered desk and storage.
The way the modern office has developed has meant that flexibility is more important that ever before. Often our desks can be full of the latest gadgets, documents, books and much much more. With all these things, life can get a bit cluttered, and I for one can find it difficult to concentrate when all I need is a simple writing space to jot down my thoughts. This is why the Connect-It Tablet Desk is such a wonderful idea, the desk is made by Monarch Specialties and combines a sleek low-profile desk with plenty of hidden storage compartments for hiding all that clutter. In addition, it’s got a set of built-in slots for organising the mass of wires that regularly snake their way around your workspace, so you don’t have to put in a lot of effort tidying up chargers, cables and power hubs.
The farmhouse workstation was developed by Software Advice‘s Don Fornes, in collaboration with Wendy Dunnam Tita at Dunnam Tita Architecture + Interiors. The principle design tenant was openness, the aim was to furnish collaboration and coworking. As with all open workspaces, it was important not to stifle collaboration, but at the same time balance this against the need for quiet work areas that allow private contemplation.
The farmhouse table was created to be a multi-purpose workstation, with its inspiration coming from large French farmhouse tables. Employees would have enough room to have their own designated workspace, but at the time time there would be no hinderance to inter-employee interaction.
In a cubicle-oriented workspace, employees are often cramped in close quarters, with their personal space dictated by wall partitions. In this open workspace, personal space is designated by just that: ample room for each person. Through the size of these workstations, we allowed for both personal space and collaboration at the same time.
In keeping with the spirit of openness and collaboration, Software Advice decided to open-source the plans for these tables here under a Creative Commons license, so that you can take the plans to your local craftsman and have them built too.
Feiz Design Studio designed the Alpha desk programme for the Dutch furniture company Kembo. The design was a direct response to the changing ethos of the office, allowing for greater flexibility and more freedom. Great office furniture adapts to the requirements of the working environment in which employees find themselves, and this fully height adjustable table system does just that. Not only does this desk look amazing, research has show that by changing one’s posture throughout the day, significant health and well-being benefits can be gleaned.
as work tools become smaller, smarter and more flexible, so too should the furniture. modern offices are rapidly evolving as technology, working patterns, space allocation, and mobility create new attitudes towards the ways in which work is achieved.
Virtual Skylights Improve Staff Well-being
In leading companies around the world employees are finding an attractive sight deep inside their buildings. Virtual skylights and landscapes are starting to appear in conference rooms and cafeterias, populating enclosed interiors as high-tech avatars of nature. These fine art biophilic features are the ideal alternative in areas where, by design or function, it’s not possible to bring forth the healing properties of green outdoor views.
It’s been almost 30 years since Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson introduced the Biophilia Hypothesis. Since then, there’s been a steady stream of studies that document the positive impact of nature in our physiology and psycho emotional disposition. The rise of biophilic design has made architects and designers well aware of the sustainable benefits of incorporating views to nature into our built environment.
However, a vast majority of existing buildings have no views of nature in their enclosed interiors. Thus, the idea of simulations, the creation of illusions of nature in artificial spaces to connect with the natural environment for wellness and cognitive restoration has taken hold with remarkable results.
Throughout history visual artists have used clever illustration techniques to conjure depth through the astute combination of scale, perspective and contrast. Add to these techniques the use of high resolution photography and carefully calibrated color light temperature, and the subtle hues and saturation of real skies can be convincingly forged.
The technique of engineering illusions at the hands of fine art and technology artists unveils a new tool for workplace design, one that uses the blueprint of human perception. By using the brain’s inherent ability to fill in the gaps of a well-designed visual puzzle, the Sky Factory –a small company based in southeast Iowa, USA- creates photographic images that are perceived as having an additional dimension, depth.
Sky Factory’s Luminous SkyCeilings™, the company’s virtual skylights, are sophisticated illusions. They serve a healing purpose as an innovative application of biophilic design. In fact, evidence-based design has found that looking at realistic imagery of nature evokes the same relaxation response and calming influence in the physiology that real panoramas of nature command.
At the French Railroad Network Operations Center in Paris, where staff is surrounded by dozens of monitors and control panels that keep the pulse of passenger train traffic rolling through the French capital, the office has no windows or access to the outdoors.
Throughout the day, one of the half dozen operators on duty will take a high stakes call with a station manager or platform engineer. During these important exchanges, operators will sometimes exhale in relief and ease back in their chairs, eyes naturally gravitating to the ceiling where their gaze meets the deep blue skies and white clouds that appear to float behind a few leafy branches that emerge from the edge of the 4” X 8” skylight above the operation center.
Inside this control room, teeming with colorful warning lights and live video feeds of train tracks, this skylight is the operators’ only connection to the natural environment. The skylight, a serene and harmonious focal point, becomes a visual oasis for engineers who can benefit from the occasional respite after hours of methodical focus on the arteries of the vast French Railroad Network.
Interestingly enough, what employees sometimes forget is that the skyline above their heads is not real. The visual cues their eyes and brain receive create the uncanny sensation of expanded space above their heads. It feels real, triggering a physiological relaxation response.
Dating back to Greco-Roman times, skilled artists conjured ways to trick the eye into seeing architectural features that weren’t part of the three dimensional structure. Later, during the early Renaissance, artists painted windows in walls and cupolas in ceilings that blurred the line between architecture and illusion through the clever use of perspective and scale.
Applying the compositional sophistication of art history’s masters in a high resolution matrix where sections of the image cross the foreground element of a ceiling grid, forces the mind to fill in the missing information. This cognitive principle is called “amodal perception” and the enhanced perception of depth gives rise to biophilic illusions of nature™ that are experienced as real.
This curious ability, what neuroscientists call our habits of perception, are the cognitive means through which magicians pull their fantastic illusions and through which a masterful two-dimensional image can appear as a three-dimensional window.
Sky Factory, a global fine arts and technology company specializing in virtual skylights and windows, sponsored a research project at Texas Tech University’s Neuroimaging Institute. The results from the study have so far surprised researchers and indicate that Sky Factory’s photographic sky compositions cause unique neural activations.
Conducted by College of Human Sciences’ researchers Drs. Debajyoti Pati, Michael O’Boyle and Cherif Amor, the study investigated the effects of Sky Factory’s photographic sky compositions on brain activation.
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to generate brain maps of neural activation in healthy subjects when exposed to the unique photographic compositions used in Sky Factory’s Luminous SkyCeilings™ and compared the brain patterns with those generated by viewing other positive, negative or neutral images.
Initial analysis of the brain maps indicates that the photographic sky compositions shared the characteristic neural activations of positive images, while, additionally, activating other unique brain regions. Of particular interest to the researchers were the activations found in the cerebellum.
“Brain activation of the cerebellum is often associated with aspects of spatial cognition, in particular the experience of extended space, as well as imagined, or real motion through that space,” said neuroscientist Dr. Michael O’Boyle of Texas Tech University. “By way of speculation, it may be that viewing Sky Factory compositions evokes a sense of expansion into or through this extended space.”
With these findings, Bill Witherspoon, founder of the Sky Factory, expects additional research will further link this cognitive experience of the company’s virtual skylights (Luminous SkyCeilings™) to the positive results of biophilic engagement that has been reported by end-users for a decade.
As our understanding of the cognitive processes behind the physiological effects of these illusions of nature™ grows, more and more companies will grasp the economic implications and physiological benefits of these virtual skylights and windows for the workplace.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2011), individuals who are faced with nowhere to relieve stress in the office, are at risk of premature onset of psychiatric, stress, and anxiety induced illnesses. Hence, harnessing the power of biophilic engagement to transform our workplaces is more than healing sight for sore eyes or a positive distraction. Using biophilic design in enclosed office spaces is a smart, sustainable solution to insure daily wellbeing.
WorkNest is a flexible desk system which allows its users to configure and modify the working environment which they inhabit. Although this workspace concept is still only in the conceptual phases, we absolutely love the design and variability of it! According to the designer Wiktoria Lenart, the project was aimed at creating the perfect modular office for creatives; allowing its users to create a workspace that felt designed and modified specifically for the user’s needs.
The set lets you add things like planters, walls on the edges to create more privacy, wheels, and can be combined with other desks to create a large collaborative workspace. Each of the pods and walls included let you organized books, headphones, magazines, and the like.
I am sure we all know by now that sitting at a desk all day is bad for one’s health. It has been mentioned time and time again, in a number of different articles. I am assuming that it MUST be true at this point.
Actually, I am a true advocate for standing while working. I have been using a standing desk for over a year, and I will probably never go back to a conventional sitting desk. Standing while working at a computer makes a huge difference in one’s physical wellbeing. I feel more alert, energized, and I have less tension in my neck and shoulders from mouse and keyboard use. Foot fatigue can be an issue, but using an appropriate floor mat helps alleviate the problem.
The only real issue with a standing desk is getting your hands on one! They are pretty hard to come by, but with a little imagine, innovation, and elbow grease you too can have a standing desk! I did it! I created my own standing desk by sawing the legs off a convention desk and mounting it to my wall with L-brackets.
Here are a few other DIY standing desk ideas I found. Just don’t forget to remember proper standing ergonomics when setting up your standing desk!
Author – Josie from Josie Office Design
The design and architecture firm Synthesis recently installed a home office in Chelsea for a private personal investment advisor. The client wanted a discrete yet sculptural design to allow working from home. The solution was to include a work desk, storage units, printer, paper shredder etc. We especially like the horizontal spacers that are arranged in the pattern of a world map, allowing the owner to map out his travels.
Bloomberg is an international business news and financial organisation. Their offices are based at Finsbury Square in London. Jump Studios were commissioned by Bloomberg to create an installation as part of their ongoing arts program. They were given a space spanding three floors, the brief was open with the only caveat being that the design must be useful and accessible to staff. Thus, Jump Studios designed this funky three part broken down tree that appears to rise through the floors. The installation is not just aesthetic, it forms meeting and social spaces for all staff to utilise.
The trunk acts as a private nook or enclosure, the branches form a thicket with integral benches, and the canopy is made up of more informal soft-foam parts for lounging. The idea was born out of a desire to temper Bloomberg’s massively technological and frenetic environment of TV screens, monitors and audio broadcasts.
HENN Architects are behind this beautiful pavilion for Porsche at Autostadt in Wolsfburg, Germany. Autostadt literally translates to Auto City, and is a visitor attraction adjacent to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg with a prime focus on automobiles.
According to the Architects:
The organically shaped building is sitting in mirrored location to the Volkswagen Pavilion- at the central axis of the theme park and offers 400 m² of space for exhibitions and presentations. Its characteristic silhouette will become a distinctive icon amid the lagoon landscape of the Autostadt.