Chiara Del Core 6 feb 2020 Articles 0 comments
Offices and new functional spaces as added value

Over time, the idea of ​​the office as a set of workstations made up of a desk, chair and desktop computer has been widely cleared through customs. In fact, the idea that large international companies actually choose to include in their management offices rooms intended for a use other than purely work use is increasingly widespread. This strategy has the dual purpose of providing greater well-being to the employee and increasing his productivity. At the base, the restyling of old offices provides an aesthetic and functional improvement, aimed at increasing user safety and comfort, while the new projects are shaped by the rapid changes of the moment. In fact, a society in constant movement and with ever-changing needs requires flexible and multifunctional spaces. Worker's day is thus punctuated by diversified activities and the concept of "social" is increasingly dominating. The functional mix is ​​increasingly in demand: the meeting rooms are located near the open space offices which are interspersed with relaxation areas and spaces intended for the employee's entertainment. Of these, the playrooms with table football or ping pong are suitable for relieving tension and spending a few minutes in the company.

Even the lunch break becomes an excuse to socialize and rest a bit from the hectic pace of work: in some cases, companies decide to recreate a family environment, reproducing kitchens similar to those found in private residences. Having the ability to use appliances like at home, to heat food, prepare coffee or tea, helps the employee's good mood. If you want to make the spaces healthier and more vital, it is an excellent idea to introduce plants and green inserts that will give breath to the whole environment. Sports activities are also important for the health of the worker: this is how company headquarters are increasingly equipped with environments for yoga, for collective fitness activities and even for basketball and tennis courts. It can therefore be deduced that the idea of ​​a multifunctional space is developing more and more, which embraces the life of the worker at 360 ° and that stimulates him, in order to make the day spent in the company enjoyable and improve performance at work.


Yoga room inside a co-working space, London
Ph: Tony Murray from  www.officesnapshots.com

Common spaces with swings in a Software House location, Poland
Ph: Tomasz Zakrzewski from www.officesnapshots.com


Functionalization of an internal environment of  the Linkedin headquarters, California


Contemporary executive offices

As anticipated, with the passage of time the concept of office has changed a lot and its design today must adapt to contingent needs. In step with the times, with innovative ideas, with an increasingly smart and shared way of working, large multinationals conceive their corporate headquarters in a distinctly different way than in the past. This is why we are witnessing a progressive dematerialisation and greater fluidity and continuity of spaces. In addition, the insertion of functional areas that are very different from work is increasingly frequent, designed to stimulate the worker and involve him in extra-work activities. Sometimes, a floor of the building or an area is prepared, depending on the size of the specific company, intended for the consumption of meals (canteen, bar, food islands) and for the rest of the lunch break, with entertainment areas ( table football, lounges) and sports (equipped gyms). This type of attention is considered normal in view of the employee's well-being, real capital for the company; however sometimes it is a double-edged sword which the worker should be aware of.
We can now list some examples of established realities, in today's scenario, which adopt these principles for the design of their corporate offices.


Vodafone Village - Milan Lorenteggio, PRP Studio, 2012

Conceived within the redevelopment project of the Lorenteggio district, it occupies the space of a disused factory. The purpose of the project was to refer to the traditional concept of gathering place and attracting pole, where workers could feel at ease. Called Borgo Lorenteggio, the complex consists of a plurality of white concrete and glass buildings, arranged in a circular manner in order to embrace a central, internal square. With a distribution over 9, 11 and 14 floors above ground, the first three buildings house offices for 3000 workers. The design of the interior spaces was conducted with a dual objective: to guarantee functionality and at the same time respect the aesthetics of the corporate image. The floor plan combines environments designed for holding meetings and updating activities, large open spaces ideal for team working and individual offices where you can concentrate and work in privacy. The paths and connecting elements are often enriched with seats and armchairs where colleagues can exchange information, while the areas for the break are equipped with automatic food dispensers and support surfaces with seats, where you can have a quick meal. The predominant color of the furniture and finishes is red, selected to directly recall the corporate identity. Each choice was made with the aim of promoting sharing and collaboration between colleagues and favoring the well-being of the worker. To this end, two other buildings have been added: the first houses a gym, a nursery and some commercial businesses inside.

The second, on the other hand, is intended to accommodate a large company canteen and several rooms for conferences and training activities. In addition, the elevated central square was conceived as a social incubator, a place designed to increase the exchange between workers during lunch breaks and internal travel. All buildings with different functional destinations are designed as belonging to a single large system of which the worker must feel an integral part. Finally, the design process was conducted with a particular focus on energy saving and respect for the environment. In fact, eco-friendly materials were used, such as photocatalytic concrete panels designed to reduce air pollutants and cost containment systems. Examples are the numerous panels that make up the so-called "photovoltaic garden", capable of producing a lot of electricity or the system designed for the recovery and exploitation of rainwater. Also from the thermal point of view, the technological choices provide for the exploitation of renewable energies and the maintenance of environmental comfort, thanks to the use of triple glazing with mobile screens, controllable through dedicated software. In this way, it is possible to change the inclination of the slats on the facade and obtain the ideal light intensity by using natural light and adjusting it as needed. For all these reasons, the Vodafone Village in Milan has earned the LEED silver certification by becoming the largest Italian environmentally sustainable and at the same time technological complex.

  
External view of the complex and the internal square - Source http://www.ordinearchitetti.mi.it
Right: First floor plan Vodafone Village - Source https://www.greenbuildingmagazine.it




Conference room and functional rooms equipped with acoustically isolated armchairs from the Vodafone Village
Source http://www.dantebeniniarchitects.com


Facebook Italy - Piazza Missori Milan, Studio RE | value, 2013-2014

The project for the Italian Facebook office proves to be responsive to the corporate values of the giant of social networks, for which social interaction represents its very raison d'etre. From a spatial point of view, these principles translate into environments without diaphragms where continuity and fluidity are the masters. In fact, the interaction between colleagues is essential as transparency and communication; the environments follow one another between areas with open workstations, meeting and meeting rooms and those intended for breaks. The floor plan is free, characterized by 650 square meters of open space that welcome work surfaces and seats and that allow all colleagues to work and interact freely. From an aesthetic point of view, it was decided to merge the Italian tradition with the identity of the American company.

The choice fell on a pop style with bright colors, recreating familiar, welcoming and socially stimulating environments. Craftsmanship and quality are harmoniously combined with typical furnishings of the USA scenario, but there is also space for the recovery from vintage taste inside the kitchen which reproduces a dairy, symbol and meeting place of the Milanese tradition. What matters is to recreate a friendly, familiar place, where the worker can feel at home and be free to express their ideas without hesitation, just like on the social network. For this reason, the environments seem designed to give the impression of not being completely finished but of being subject to constant change and growth, just like the company they represent.

   
Open space office and recreation room inside the Italian Facebook office
Source http://www.businesspeople.it


Dropbox Headquarters - San Francisco, Rapt Studio - Avroko, 2016

The Dropbox headquarters in San Francisco represents the classic example of a contemporary office project aimed at satisfying the well-being of the worker. With approximately 30 thousand square meters, it houses 1,500 employees and offers them a wide variety of functional interiors. In fact, the goal of the entire design process was to recreate livable, bright and relaxing environments where the user felt at home, with a view to well-being directly proportional to professional performance. Starting from what had been the deficits of the old office project, it was immediately clear how to intervene and solve these problems. In the face of cramped, narrow and uninspiring environments, we wanted to equip the headquarters of the American giant with multifunctional environments that guaranteed optimal communication between colleagues and the free development of differentiated work activities. For this reason, the design concept focused on organizing spaces that were bright, welcoming and functional with respect to the needs of each worker.

The differentiation also concerns the material and formal choices of the furnishings and finishes of each individual environment: the predominant idea is that of a complex that is continuously growing and evolving and which founds elements belonging to different traditions. The bright colors and original graphics prevail, making the rooms pleasant and informal. From a planimetric point of view, small offices for individual work (which requires particular concentration) alternate with large rooms designed to accommodate a large number of people who gather for corporate events. Light is an important element and the exploitation of natural light is maximized so as to make the environments more vibrant and healthy. This measure guarantees cooperation, favors the carrying out of activities and the continuous exchange of information and material between colleagues. However, a good level of privacy is also ensured thanks to the insertion of acoustic and insulating solutions, designed to make collaboration enjoyable by avoiding the propagation of disturbing sounds and noises.

The common thread that accompanied the entire complex project is the desire to refer to the urban scenario, full of public and private places, each with different functions. In the same way, the internal spaces are used both for collective and individual work, but also for meetings and for relaxing (library and blue relaxation room). Everything is designed on a human scale, in order to be perceived directly, with the freedom to move and move according to the need, in spaces where flexibility and adaptability reign supreme. And there is no lack of references to international cultures: traditional Danish ceramics, water walls and Japanese minimalism, karaoke and gardens with American plants. Finally, green together with light contributes to making the environment more vital and to making it live with a positive and productive spirit, all values on which Dropbox's corporate reality is based.

   
More or less permeable offices: open offices and reserved spaces for few people - Dropbox S.Francisco
 
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