Monday, March 03, 2008

Welcoming Workplace

Welcoming Workplace is a fascinating and important research project which aims to rethink office environments to enable growing numbers of older people to participate in the 21st century knowledge economy (with obvious implications for shedworking). Based in the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre, it is funded as part of the Designing for the 21st Century initiative from January 2007 to December 2008. Here's an excerpt:
"Taken together, the ageing of the workforce and emergence of new patterns of knowledge work present a critical challenge to current practice in office design, which has traditionally been geared to younger workforces rather than older ones and simple, linear, process-driven work patterns rather than more complex knowledge-based ones. Technological advance with intelligent building systems and wireless technologies underpin this paradigm shift, supporting working styles that are more mobile and networked and work environments that can be customised to individual needs and abilities."
There are also some great photos in their image bank which are well worth browsing.

Among those taking part is Catherine Greene who has explored the idea of the office previously in very interesting ways, including her 'Inside it's raining', pictured above, for which she created a water permeable window so that if it rains, your desk gets wet. Apparently the desk is designed to deal with this and you can carry on working. I also like the look of her rain curtain pictured below about which she says:
"Time spent outside has a profound effect on our mental health making us feel happier and healthier. This project brings the outside inside the office using water to create a space that is very different from that of the computer, phone and photocopier. It separates the space automatically creating a different atmosphere and thought level. It provokes different senses from that which we are used to in an open plan offices, instead of the ring of phone, you hear the trickle of water. It is a stimulating thing to watch and automatically relaxes you. It contradicts the idea of an office and provokes thought of what is practical, what is possible and where do we want to spend our older working years - probably not in a stuffy, over-heated, equipment cluttered environment. But can we emulate an alternative?"

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