Workspaces have to be ready for some kind of change. Architects and designers are always trying to renovate, improve and leave a real mark. Flexibility is not a new concept, but architects are trying to analyze how to re-interpret it in the most actual and innovative way.
Foster for Apple’s new headquarter
Norman Foster is one of the most important and influential architect of the last decades, and with his firm Foster + Partners he realized projects in more than 50 countries around the world. He is very well know for giving a lot of attention to high technology, something that characterized many of his first masterpieces. One of his most famous project is 30 St Mary Axe in London, jokingly called by Londoners as “The Gherkin”.
Foster and his firm just spent the last 8 years in the completion and improvement of the plans for Apple’s glassy Campus 2 in the Apple’s headquarter in Cupertino, California. The Mothership, so called because of its resemblance to a spaceship, is the last project conceived and followed by Steve Jobs. It is surrounded by a man-made forest of 7,000 trees, andit 100% runs on renewable energy.
It didn’t start as a circular building, it really grew into that. Since April 2017, it is finally welcoming its employees.
Norman Foster on the future of offices
For what concerns the office spaces design, at the WIRED Business Conference Foster said: “the only hesitation I have (about the project) is in terms of the changing patterns of transportation”. The reason why he claimed so is because even if they built an 11,000 spots underground garage for Apple’s employees, he really thinks transportation systems and patterns will change soon. In his opinion, cars will be less important in the future, and new conceptions of travel will arise.
So, the space thought for cars and other vehicles, in the future could become something totally different, and, in his opinion, this is the idea of flexibility that work spaces should have right now. Work spaces have to be ready to reinvent themselves and offices must accept the idea that in few years every dynamic and priority may change. Evolution is in the air, and employees must face it.
Not only flexibility, but also democratic pavilions
Foster also claimed: “a workplace that is a good place to be attracts people to stay, and that translates directly into improved productivity and material reward. It can also break down divisions. For example, we’ve challenged stereotypes [..]; instead of separating them, we bring them together in what I call democratic pavilions“. To be truly competitive, architects and companies have to think beyond productivity. As Foster said, an office is all about lifestyle.
Foster’s experience with Apple tells us something: an office is made of walls that can constantly change, and they do serve a purpose for the present moment, but it does not mean it has to stand still for ever. Offices have to bring people together, and not drive them apart. And the solution to all of this is to be flexible.