Any conversation about the design of office space quickly becomes mired in competing anecdotes about trips to Silicon Valley company offices and coming to terms with the demands of the Millennials in the workforce. SKB ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN knows that helping clients to be better prepared to take on WHAT’S NEXT requires having a firm understanding of the trajectory of workplace design that we are on. The next mailings are going to look at that trajectory from many perspectives.

Peter Cook Metamorphosis

For a brief time in London in the 1960’s a small group of Architectural Association graduates created a studio they called Archigram and they dreamed up what seemed to be crazy visions of how humans would inhabit the built environment of the future. They scratched out a living publishing magazines, manifestos and theoretical projects illustrated with compelling and sometimes comical pop art collages. In 1968 Archigram’s published its seminal “Architecture without Architecture.”

Until fairly recently much of the architectural world wrote off Archigram’s work as a Euro-Socialist reaction to an industrialized society that had taken more than 15 years to finally recover from World War II. The UK’s transformation in the 1960’s was staggering and the shock of it made some big questions readily apparent. Archigram’s vision was of a world where the old models of the built environment were going to eventually become meaningless. They foresaw buildings and spaces as a kind of neutral mesh with no specific form except for temporary events. They foresaw people existing everywhere and nowhere, attached to personal appliances connected to other people and places through some kind of electronic network.

If “Architecture without Architecture” seemed like cheeky rhetoric then, it seems quite prophetic now. Today’s model urban space or workplace is less a coherent whole and more a series of events and images tied together with some sort of neutral fabric.

Today, as urbanists, developers, architects and designers are trying to provide work and living environments with “a sense of place,” with events that are meaningful to workers, defining what that means is becoming harder and harder because architecture and urbanism as we used to know it may be rapidly becoming irrelevant.


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