Campus-style offices: the future of office design?

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The latest trend in the world of office architecture seems to be the design of low-rise office buildings, more reminiscent of university campuses than traditional office blocks. Seen as a way to encourage collaborative working and social interaction, campus-style office developments seem to be overtaking high-rise offices.

Designed to encourage collaboration between different departments, the design of these buildings undoubtedly reflects changing attitudes to the way we work

A number of variations on the campus office theme have recently been in the architectural limelight: HOK’s Central and Wolfe office campus, Apple’s donut-style campus building in Cupertino (built at a cost of $5bn) and Amazon’s glass dome buildings. All of these buildings are designed in the campus style with the inclusion of rooftop terraces, cafes, and tiered seating areas with traditional partitioned office spaces taking something of a back seat. Designed to encourage collaboration between different departments, the design of these buildings undoubtedly reflects changing attitudes to the way we work.

However it wasn’t so long ago that corporate skyscraper where the undisputed kings of office building design. Take the Gherkin in London: designed by Norman Foster and Ken Shuttleworth, this building was voted as London’s favourite building in a recent survey. Built at a time when the often repetitive nature of office work was geared towards a more cookie-cutter approach to office design, the upper floors of the building were reserved for tenants prepared to pay the high rental prices required to achieve maximum investment returns, rather than for use by the workers themselves.

If you compare the design of buildings such as the Gherkin to the open plan, tiered campus buildings with their breakout spaces and small meeting areas, it just goes to show how times have changed.

Posted July 1, 2014

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