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A comfortable office space makes people happy

14 April 2020

We have asked Signe Blomquist, Head of Interior and Workspace Design at Henning Larsen, about the most important factors when designing the future office space. It is not only about, sound, light and air, but also our understanding of the environment and the people who will use the space, now as well as in the future.

general illustration, people, meeting, meeting room, office

The climate challenge and how to overcome it?

If you have to select one overall challenge that will affect our approach to architecture and design for the many coming years – it will be the climate. Signe Blomquist, isn’t in doubt how important this task will be to solve.

“When I was born in 1978 we were 4.3 billion people on earth to consume our mutual resources. Today we are 7.7 billion people. If this continues, and if we continue to use the same volume of resources in construction as of today, then in 2050 we will need 3.5 times more resources than what the earth delivers today – This is a calculation we have to consider, especially as architects”

“The tendency is luckily that we to a much greater extent consider the environmental footprint before we start drawing up the projects. We are seeing a big increase in the development of sustainable materials for interior which take into account both climate friendliness and healthy indoor climate” Signe Blomquist explains.

Which tendencies affect office design today?

“We have become way more flexible in regards to our physical presence at work. Today we are working from many different destinations and across many different platforms. We’re therefore talking about a new type of employee, called the “digital nomad” who has only a small connection to the physical workspace. And we see that companies find that the occupancy rate on a daily basis can be as low as 30% of the total staff”

Signe Blomquist explains that when you ask employees without a physical connection to the workplace what challenges they experience, the answer is clear: They feel disconnected to their team and lacks an affiliation. On the positive side the majority of people answered that they to a greater extent are capable of working more concentrated and without getting disturbed. In other words they are more in state of “Deep Work” as architecture professor David Dewane calls it.

“We have to design the future workspaces with this in mind. To create an environment that accommodates the different needs of the employees and support their different work tasks, it is must that we as architects think carefully about this. We have to create an environment, which attracts and retains the attractive workforce and at the same time supports the companies vision and needs of employees”

How to work with sound, light and air in design?

“A successful design project consist of many factors. One of the more fundamental is a good and sustainable indoor climate. It is crucial that you can breathe freshly in the afternoon and not worry about wet spots under your arms half an hour into a meeting”

“The open plenum office space is something we need to consider as architects. An open office space equals acoustic challenges. Because of this many of projects starts with an acoustical solution”

She explains that ceiling in combination with wall and flooring has a great importance for the experience of the room. The ceiling therefore has a special place in architecture, also when we look back in time

“Pantheon's dome in ancient Rome and the story that is partly told through the light, like the impressive cassette ceiling, have been a great source of inspiration for architects throughout time. Today, the stucco ceilings in Copenhagen apartments are still in high demand and tell a special story that creates a truly unique interior design in each apartment. The ceiling, in combination with the walls and floor, can help create the special expression that we as architects would like to achieve when we create space"

Where to start when designing and what is the perfect office?

“Fundamentally, it is important that we listen carefully to what the customers want. We know a lot about creating a physical space that supports different types of work. But we do not know what is essential to each business we work with until we ask them. That's why we start all of our processes with a greater or lesser degree of user involvement as needed. Based on the findings we make during the initial processes, we create the interior design proposal.”

“The perfect office is a community for colleagues, where the physical space supports collaboration and accommodates differences. Where the company's vision is clearly communicated in the interior and sets a common direction. It is a place where you really want to stay. And where the physical, mental and digital work environment unites”