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  • Davide

Spurhouse: (our) office of the future

How do you describe the project for one's own office? What is more important? The way the office was brought together with others was a form of cooperation and a way to demonstrate that professionals should and could find more ways of improving their lives, their companies, and their position in society. Or from the sustainability strategy, based on reducing the footprint of the fit-out and keeping the office running without natural gas, of course! Or the quality of our work environments and the importance of having a bright office with fresh filtered air, plants, natural materials, a standing desk, and nice smells. Or perhaps from purely architectural considerations of proportions, space, light, and texture. The whole point I have been making is precisely that 'architectural' today should mean society, space, light, texture, employees' well-being, sustainability, finance, and collaboration. Inevitably, our project for our office encapsulates ideas and ambitions related to all the above. So, I will need several blog posts to describe them all. The first one is an introduction and a table of contents.

I. 'A beautiful space': Thanks to very few design moves, we have created a space that is easy, welcoming, looks excellent and feels great. Two distinctive floor finishes mark the serving areas and the served (work) area, separated by a plywood and polycarbonate piece of joinery/partition. Sliding panels allow roaming around the space and through the two zones.

II. Sustainability A. As we progress towards a low-carbon grid and lower energy prices in the future, emphasis should shift to embedded carbon, i.e., favouring recycled, low-carbon materials. When designing the new studio, we planned to reuse as much of the joinery as we had in the old space. Our old desks became sliding doors, the bookshelves were clad or formed new walls, and were adapted to become interior shelves. We made the elements we couldn't build from recycled materials with cut-to-size plywood assembled by our expert Neapolitan joiner friends, Mario and Antonio. Towards the end, when the large panels were gone, joiners and architects became more creative and still managed to build a boiserie for the meeting room and a standing desk from offcuts. It was a fun experience and a rare opportunity to see our design ideas take form in days rather than months or years. In the case of our office, most of the budget was therefore invested in expert labour rather than materials. (Imagine how much we could reduce our carbon footprint and increase well-being if taxation shifted from labour to carbon (materials)).

Our meeting room boiserie built with offcuts

III. Sustainability B. The same attention to carbon informed our heating and hot water strategy. Windows are kept shut, and the air is circulated mechanically thanks to an MVHR system, which recovers heat from the outgoing air. Thanks to this, heating requirements are kept to a minimum and are covered easily by our six infrared ceiling panels (infrared is the most efficient direct electric heating system). A tiny electric boiler heats the little hot water we need.

IV. We chose a space with large windows on the street. The office is flooded with light. We have a standing desk to get out of our chairs occasionally (a new obsession of mine after reading "The Miracle Pill"). We wave to children walking by and feel the changing light conditions.

V. A company with more than one shareholder owns the office. The people who share the space can purchase shares proportionally to their desks. The exchange of shares is done without making a profit on others. Oddly, this is one of the aspects of the project that interests me the most now. Is there a way for professionals to join forces and build the workplaces they need for their companies?

We love being almost in the street.


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