Design workplaces for the workers, not for the work
Harvard Business Review wrote about it. UNStudio wrote about it as well. Even ARUP published a report on it too. While many organisations are quick to speculate designs for future offices, what these discussions left out is the employees’ perspective of what it means to work. In these articles, work is carrying out duties to complete the organisations’ goals. But while we attempt to design a post-pandemic work environment, we need to first pause and question the meaning of work from an employee’s perspective. Only then can we create a post-pandemic workplace for its people rather than the work.
Sustainable architecture: for the building, or our environment?
Sustainable architecture is widely recognized for its use of plants, carbon-neutral materials, and net-zero energy systems. By re-introducing nature and minimizing energy consumption, these strategies reduce the building’s impact on the natural environment. But architecture essentially shapes our surroundings. Rather than just having a small ecological footprint, sustainable architecture must also cultivate a sustainable built environment.
Treat networking like a research project
I’m an introverted researcher. I’m uncomfortable with attending social events to meet new people, which can be problematic when it comes to expanding my network. I know networks are really important for a career, and I know how much of an issue
networking can be for me, so I try to be considered and prepared about what I do. I need more of a run-up to networking than some others, and this post shares the four steps I take to ease myself into making new connections.
Starting a consultancy can be like finding a date
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many universities across the world. It disrupted their revenue streams and most universities are finding leaner ways to operate. For many, this means laying off staff and discontinuing contracts. So, I thought it might be useful for me to share how I started consulting while working as a casual in universities. I hope some of these techniques can help you get your foot into the industry.
Drawing on an elegant palette of timeless materials, Brunswick House seamlessly integrates the original classic Californian bungalow with its modern alterations. Adam Kane Architects harmoniously unites the home’s two iterations through a pared-back approach to old and new.
When stores were closing in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a duo of Melbourne designers and makers did the unexpected – they started a business. Since then, Oku Space has emerged as a studio that is championing locally designed and manufactured furniture intended to last a lifetime.
When products are faulty, companies recall and fix them. But when products become outdated, who corrects them? Broached Commissions does. As part of the 2021 Melbourne Design Week, Broached Commissions exhibited Broached Recall, a showcase of 12 modern pieces repurposed from Victorian-era antiques.
For Fermob, “joie de vivre” is more than just an expression – it is an ethos of using colours to bring joy to everyday living. This French furniture company not only manufactures furniture in vibrant colours that enliven the outdoors, but the pieces are also sturdy and timeless, thanks to their UV-resistant paint technology.
How do we future-proof Melbourne?
As the population grows and lifestyles change and evolve, so too does the need for considered development that is designed for current and future generations. Architects, designers and engineers play an ever-important role in being able to shape communities and optimise lifestyles. Contextualised, these solutions tend to be climatically and culturally specific, adding layers onto the richness of a city’s past. However, the questions remain; How do we future proof Melbourne? How do we ensure the viability of life through exponential growth? How do we apply global inspiration while accounting for the local?
Pandemics shape our cities
Living with Covid-19 is a new experience for all of us. Yet, living with pandemics is far from new for our cities. Throughout history, our built environment has suffered many major health crises, such as cholera, Spanish flu and tuberculosis. And each time, our cities pulled through. Perhaps, we can find solutions to this pandemic in our history books.
in Pandemic Society, pp54-7, Non Architecture Publications, Barcelona, Spain
Micro-experiences of architecture
Architecture is commonly defined as the practice of designing buildings and the designed building. But it cannot be described simply as a structure produced by a design service. Architecture is also about the experience of a space. So small-scale architecture should also stand for the micro-experiences of architecture.
in What is small-scale architecture?, pp108 – 109, ARCHHIVE Books, London
Slow living in an overloaded society
We are truly living in a fast-paced world. Whether it’s working through the to-do list at work, or ticking things off the bucket list of things at home, we’re always in a constant state of doing. This may simply be an internalised feeling. But perhaps, our environment is causing us to feel that way.
Tree in the city, what is your value?
Remember the time in primary school, when you learnt about how trees help our environment? It converts carbon dioxide into oxygen and removes pollutants and purifies the air that we breathe in. How about the time you decided to enjoy your lunch in the nearby park? Perhaps it was a case of biophilia that stole you away from the office towers. Or maybe the tree canopy provided the much-needed refuge from the sun that was beating down on the back of your neck. Either way, there’s no denying that trees are valuable assets to our cities.
Ritual of forgetting, impossible in today's digital age
When my calendar reminds me to send you a birthday greeting, I stop in my tracks. When my phone asks me to invite you to an upcoming event, I pause and must say no. Whenever I see your face in my contact list set as “Away”, I must remind myself that you are permanently away. Once a sad reminder of your passing, your digital presence has now become a fleeting haunt. Yet deleting anything about you seems disrespectful. You are no longer with us, but you are also more with us than ever.
in Dying – Alternative Designs for Cemeteries, pp57 – 59. Non Architecture Publications, Barcelona, Spain
Biophilic design, more than just plants
Biophilia, in its essence, is the fondness for life. Popularised by Professor Emeritus Wilson from Harvard University with his Biophilia Hypothesis, he argues that humans have an attraction to other living organisms. But biophilic design is more than adding greenery into our living spaces.
The future of work-life balance
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were asked to work from home. While some argue that the lack of interruptions has led to increased productivity, others have also complained that the distractions at home have made it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to focus on work. So, is there any consensus of what will help workers stay productive while working from home?
Growing clean and healthy air
When you need a short break during the day, a stroll through the nearby park comes to mind. And when you need an extended break from the busy city life, a weekend escape to the rural reserves may help you connect back to nature. These are just some ways to reap one of the benefits of greenery – access to fresh air. But is the occasional access enough?
Making nature work for you
For many of us, evenings are a time to retire from a tiring workday. We turn on a movie on Netflix or play video games to switch off mentally. After all, such activities make you forget all the outstanding items that you didn’t get to do. It turns out, these activities may actually be draining your energy. So how should we re-energise at the end of a busy day?
Healthy living in breathable spaces
One of the ways green buildings are energy-efficient is that they seal the indoor spaces to prevent heat from escaping. While this reduces the energy needed to maintain an optimal indoor temperature, such designs may inadvertently be causing you harm. Harm, which scientists recognise as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).
Creativity is the process, but ambiguity is what you want
Creativity is using your imagination to create something new; to invent based on an original idea. We see business employ creative individuals to create innovations for the company. We see nations call for creative solutions to tackle environmental problems. But how does creativity work? How do we use it productively? And what exactly does it offer?
in Thinking – Alternative Designs for Offices, pp25 – 26, Non Architecture Publications, Barcelona, Spain
Home of Mother Rhea
A long time ago, when Gaia’s playground reached out as far as the eye can see, Mother Rhea descended from the skies and played out on the open fields. She loved the fields so much that on her birthday she called out to her children, “Apollo, Athena, Haphaestus and Hestia, I gather you here today and ask that you build me a home so that I can protect and nurture the open lands for all to enjoy. I will visit at dusk to see what you have built”.
in Fairytales, When Architecture tells a story, pp152 – 161, Blank Space Project, New York, USA
Academic terms or time prisons?
Majority of universities around the world follow the academic calendar of quarterly or semesterly terms. Though these terms help to measure the amount of time spent studying by students, it does little to measure their quality of learning. Instead, they regulate students’ speed of learning and bind them to at least three years of education before they can attain a formal baccalaureate degree. Students aren’t the only prisoners to these terms. Academics are robbed of the agility to experiment with new curriculums. So why are universities not considering alternative forms of education?
in Learning – Alternative Designs for Universities, pp59 – 60, Non Architecture Publications, Barcelona, Spain
Mocapæi by Aeiva
Today, music no longer compliments dance. Today, music IS dance. Clubs have transformed into sanctuaries of music co-creation. AEIVA, the sound system in the trendiest night clubs, mines motion data from the dancers in the club. With the motion data, it creates electronic dance music in real-time.
in Dancing – Alternative Designs for Clubs, pp125 – 126, Non Architecture Publications, Barcelona, Spain
Where to let the dogs out?
Dogs can play many positive roles in our lives. Golden Retrievers can be a great jogging companion, pushing you to finish another kilometre. A German Shepherd can serve as a guard dog, protecting you while you sleep at night. A Siberian Husky can be an excellent comfort cuddler on a cold and rainy day. These are just examples where dogs make us happy and healthy. But are we doing enough to keep them happy and healthy too?