We don’t mean ‘will there be robotic assistants and virtual co-workers’ but rather, on a more basic level, what will the structure and fabric of the office look like?
It’s a question that Dutch design firm RAAAF have had a stab at exploring, along with the help of artist Barbara Visser. The results of their collaboration have just gone on display at the new Looiersgracht 60 gallery in Amsterdam; they make interesting viewing for anyone who has dreamt of escaping the desk + chair humdrum uniformity of the modern office environment...so pretty much everyone then.
"Chairs and tables are redesigned over a million times. But what if there are no chairs any more and you would like to afford people standing working positions?" asked architects Ronald and Erik Rietveld, the two founders of RAAF.
In exploring the possibilities of rethinking this engrained work space convention, the team have come up with what they call a ‘working landscape’- a jumbled mix of blocks, and slanted surfaces which allow workers to break from the traditional sitting work position.
The structure of the ‘work landscape’ is decidedly disorderly, giving staff a wide array of working positions to choose from, including all variations of leaning, lying down and reclining. Think, sea lions chilling on a rocky coastal outcrop.
“If it’s not broke, why fix it?” will be the reaction of many to this display, but I think rather than being a realistic representation of what the team envisage the office of the future might look like, they are encouraging people to think about the ways in which our traditional notions of the office space can be reimagined for the better.
"We have developed a concept wherein the chair and desk are no longer unquestionable starting points; instead, the installation's various affordances solicit visitors to explore different standing positions in an experimental work landscape." They told Dezeen Magazine (a very nice site for anyone interested in design / architecture).
There have been many studies over the years reporting that sitting all day at a desk can be really bad for your health increasing the risk of developing many conditions including back problems, diabetes and even some cancers. For most of us, it’s a risk that we are willing to take; besides we have no other choice!
Potential health benefits and extended life expectancies aside, what we are most interested in is how such a working environment, or even a much diluted version of it, would impact on things like productivity, collaboration, co-worker relations, and general levels of contentment.
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