New trends in office architecture

May 2019 | News

Professionals and companies are increasingly aware of the influence that architecture has on new work spaces. Places that are becoming increasingly versatile and flexible, in which the building that houses them plays an important role in the design thereof and their relationship with the environment. Whether open or closed, dark or bright, diaphanous or compartmentalised; they can all be transformed into cosy environments.

In the face of the creativity and innovation that have characterised office design in recent years, modern work spaces are increasingly committed to the happiness and well-being of employees. Aware that each company and place require a personalised formula, professionals undertake these projects from a global perspective, which involves analysing both the work philosophy inside the building as well as the architecture of space, acoustic and visual comfort, the biophilia, colours and materials, new technologies or furniture.

Occupying a new work space designed for that purpose or reconverting an old premises, both in new buildings designed to be used as offices such as in charismatic historic city centre buildings, involves very different processes. The diaphanous spaces and glass panels, in the former, and the rigid structures or protected facades, in the latter, condition the design of the spaces that are housed inside.

Sustainable and with a deep respect for the environment, modern offices share their commitment to efficient materials and products, with innovative customisable facilities according to the use and needs of each user at all times. Energy efficiency and water consumption, as well as the use of alternative energies, are some aspects that characterise these places and that have been measured for years by the LEED Certification.

Directly conditioned by the original architecture, lighting and ventilation are fundamental when it comes to designing workspaces. Although modern office buildings opt for large glazed panels that enable controlled natural light and ventilation, it is also possible to build comfortable environments in more closed and, a priori, not so attractive locations. Filtering sunlight according to the orientation of the facades, taking advantage of patios or using glass panels to allow light to reach the darkest corners, are some of the solutions that optimise natural lighting in favour of more efficient spaces.

Designing artificial lighting is the result of a joint study of the architecture and distribution of the interior space and natural light.  To correct the lack of sunlight, companies are increasingly turning to new technologies and customised solutions with which to create different environments. In this way, a luminous balance is achieved that reduces the negative effects on sight and health as much as possible, managing to accommodate very diverse uses in the same environment, ranging from individual workstations to meeting rooms, collective work areas or training classrooms.

In the same way, colours and textures directly influence our mood. The serious and boring aesthetic, traditionally associated with offices, is a thing of the past, in favour of a warmer and more welcoming image, which, until recently, was reserved for domestic or leisure environments. Facing the initial explosion of colour, the current trend of workspaces is the intelligent use of colour, both on floors and walls and in the furniture itself, depending on the use and purpose thereof. Quite often, to transmit the company's values, the tones chosen are governed by the corporate colours.

Both the exterior spaces and the interior vegetation, through patios, vertical gardens or specific green elements, now play a key role in office design. In addition to its sustainable nature and respect for the environment, the presence of natural elements in the interior promotes relaxation and worker well-being. Just as nature enters the office, in many cases, it also takes over the outside, in the form of terraces, roofs and courtyards that house improvised workstations or meeting spaces.

All these aspects, such as the air and light quality, thermal and acoustic comfort, biophilia or materials, among others, are analysed by the WELL Certification, that puts the focus on the well-being and health of its occupants.

The changes in the way of working generated by new technologies also determine the way to undertake office projects.  In this sense, the architecture and design of furniture must respond to a new way of understanding a work space where fixed positions and hierarchical distribution have given way to open and flexible working, resting and meeting environments. To achieve this, flexible separations, mobile surfaces or smart furniture are used, which boost innovation and collaboration among workers, both face-to-face and online.

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