Biophilic Design in
House of Sustainability
What’s on your desk,
Falling in love
with green again.
Cool and smooth, that’s how our offices should be – shouldn’t they?
What was until recently the dominant trend in modern office architecture
is gradually being supplanted by a new yearning: the rediscovery of green
love. Read in our cover story how biophilic design breathes new life into
offices. As an example, we shall show you how a 600-year-old building
was transformed into a place with a signal concept for the future.
Speaking of the future: we asked Horst Steinbacher, CEO of
officeMEDIA, how digitization will change the face of the office.
We also provide proof that the spatial environment can support the
ability to learn and exemplify this in the corporate campus. On top of this,
we give you tips on how to cut a good figure in video conferences.
Last but not least, we take a look at the desk of Manuelle Gautrand, one
of the most famous architects in France, and introduce to you a couple
of super-relaxed options for remote work, off the beaten track of the
With this in mind: lean back, relax, and enjoy the next few pages.
Laura and Markus Wiesner
Biophilic Design in office architecture .............................................. .04
Interview with Horst Steinbacher, CEO officeMEDIA ......................... 08
Reference story: House of Sustainability ........................................... 10
Corporate Campus. University flair in the office ................................ 14
How to look good for video conferencing ......................................... 16
Useful tips for everyday office life ..................................................... 18
What does job sharing mean for the office? ..................................... 19
Offices from around the world:
SPERBANK Headquarters in Moscow ................................................ 20
What’s on your desk, Manuelle Gautrand? ....................................... 23
Remote work apart from working at home & at the office ............... 24
Showroom ......................................................................................... 26
Publisher: Wiesner-Hager Möbel GmbH, Linzer Strasse 22, A-4950 Altheim, T + 43/ (0)7723/460-0, email@example.com, www.wiesner-hager.com,
thinknewwork.com; conception / editing: Wiesner-Hager, mintmind Communication GmbH; layout: mintmind Communication GmbH, guest author:
Wojciech Czaja; subject to typesetting and printing errors; 10/2021.
In the past few years, offices have been growing
cooler and smoother. But this time seems
to be over now. Thanks to recent developments
in longing for digitization and corona
office culture more and more people are looking
for green, natural materials and a stronger
relation to mother nature. A declaration of
love to Biophilic Design.
Steve Mitrione from the University of Minnesota
observed that patients who could view a green hedge
outside were noted for their higher level of alpha
activity. In other words: it makes them feel relaxed. In
contrast, patients who are fated to look at a concrete
wall show an increase in beta activity. They feel stress.
Roger S. Ulrich, professor of architecture at the Centre
for Healthcare Building Research at the Chalmers
University of Technology in Gothenburg, found that
patients with a view of the garden recover faster than
those who have to look at a brick wall. This shortens
their stay in hospital.
And Clare Cooper Marcus, professor emeritus of
landscape architecture at the University of California
in Berkeley, discovered that patients in a green environment
need far less pain medication and on average
leave the hospital a few days earlier than patients
without a natural environment.
Hospital architecture has been showing the impact
of the scientific studies made in the 1990s and 2000s
for some time now. The planning of hospitals would
be inconceivable today without the guidelines of so
called biophilic architecture; otherwise, their operation
would be far more inefficient and therefore more
expensive, because every unnecessarily occupied bed
devours economic assets – in Austria a hospital bed
currently costs 682 euros per day.
The advantages of biophilic interior design can also be
applied to the office environment, because poorly designed
workplaces generate dissatisfaction, an unpleasant
working atmosphere, health complaints, a higher
sick-leave statistic, and ultimately correspondingly low
work efficiency to boot. Or, as Andreas Gnesda, CEO
of teamgnesda, explains: “People have been around
for two million years, we’ve been living in houses for
12,000 years, and only in the last few decades have
we started to create a relationship to nature for many
people at work. How can we seriously assume that this
will remain without consequences?”
After many years of increasing digitization and virtualization,
says Gnesda, not to mention increasingly cool,
marketing-driven office design dominated by beautiful,
media-reproducible images, the yearning for a
certain naturalness is growing again in the workplace.
“The photogenic amusement of the information society
is over. People at last want to relate more to nature
again. They want to be able to look out into a green
environment, they want tactile contact with natural,
authentic materials, and they want olfactory stimulation
again, not just the smell of paints, adhesives and
plasticisers.” Elements playing a major role include
plants, the proximity to water, lighting design, natural
building materials, also asynchronic and dynamic
sensory stimuli that change over the course of the day,
such as light, view and temperature. The foremost elements
were identified by the US consultancy Terrapin
Bright Green and a research group led by Christopher
Alexander, Judith Heerwagen, Stephen Keller and
Roger S. Ulrich (yes, indeed, the man who produced
the hospital studies) and documented in the so-called
“Fourteen Patterns of Biophilic Design”. Many companies
already use the fourteen guiding theses as basis for
the design of their office buildings.
“One of the subtlest yet most logical examples of
biophilic design is the furnishing of Apple shops
around the world,” remarks Christian
Prasser, who with his office
CP Architektur has specialised in
the interior design of offices, shops,
hotels, restaurants and so forth.
“The ultra-modern Apple products
are presented surrounded by indoor
plants and warm light choreography
on relatively massive wooden tables.
The natural oak with its strong grain provides the
perfect contrast to the high-tech products. On white,
squeaky-clean, characterless surfaces, the unique aura
of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks would be completely
extinguished.” These, says Prasser, are precisely the
reasons why we also have to rethink office design.
While people needed smooth and bright surfaces for
analogue work, this tends to be a hindrance in the
age of digital work processes and of devices boasting
increasingly improved illumination. “Slick office furnishings
and perfect, minimalist lobbies are unthinkable
today, such as we know them from the 2000s when
major corporations became global trendsetters with
their reduced architectural language. With increasing
digitization, constantly improving high-tech products
and the enervating tedium of virtual work forced on
us by the coronavirus, we are now yearning yet again
for the natural, for the imperfect.” What might this
look like? “Linoleum instead of Formica, wood veneer
instead of imitation wood, lots of different colours
Plants in the office
and lightness, they
connect us to the
earth and calm us,
and are veritable
instead of a monochrome CI colour
palette”, says Prasser. He especially
underlines the benefits of flora:
“Plants in the office spread freshness
and lightness, they connect us to the
earth and calm us, and they are veritable
symbols of individuality, because
they are the opposites of the serial
and celebrate the imperfect. Nothing
in nature is absolutely perfect. And the human being
as part of a larger organisation is also far from perfect.
This has to be respected in office design and subtly
incorporated into it.” But the biophilic design offices
cited and dreamed of by many experts also harbour
dangers. “Not everything that is natural is actually
good for people”, says the Viennese architect Ursula
Schneider, CEO at POS Architecture. “Some woods
contain formaldehyde, and we shouldn’t underestimate
substances such as glue and chemicals added to
increase longevity. In fact, some synthetic and surface
materials have far lower emissions and are therefore
better suited for indoor use.” To be on the safe side,
Schneider advises comprehensive product management
during the planning and construction phase regardless
of whether it involves clay plaster, lime plaster,
natural paints, oil, wax or natural furniture materials
such as wood, linoleum or textiles. Absolute safety is
assured by checking the VOC values. Volatile organic
compounds provide information about the emission
ehaviour of different products. Schneider: “If the smell of
a just completed building is so new it reminds you of new
cars, you should be suspicious.”
For Bernhard Kern, CEO of Roomware Consulting
GmbH, biophilic design, the use of recycled materials
and the self-evidence of the circular economy concept are
still in their infancy. “In theory we’ve come quite a long
way – both industry and the specialist media see biophilic
design as an indispensable part of today’s office culture,
but in practice we’re still lagging behind somewhat.” So is
everything just a bubble? “No, of course not, but I’ve actually
observed that many companies back biophilic design
because they need good results and as many climate-active
points as possible. In the end, it’s all about acquiring the
right certificate.” The first ideas, impulses and initiatives are
already germinating, no question about it. As so often the
case, innovative pioneering companies in the private sector
are forging ahead as a good example. It will be a few years
until biophilic design reaches the masses and is utilised by
companies with the conviction already evident today in
the planning and interior design of hospitals. The relevant
analyses and benefits corresponding to the asset class have
long been on the table. Cary Cooper, professor of organisational
psychology and health at Lancaster University,
found that performance, creativity and cognitive activity
all increase when the workplace is designed with natural
patterns and fabrics. The flooring manufacturer Interface
discovered that employees with a view of trees on average
take fewer days off than employees with a street view or
without any kind of external visual stimulus.
And the study “Creating Positive
Spaces” by Oliver Heath and Well
Building Standard concludes
that the inclusion of vegetation
in the office context leads
to a faster return on investment.
Biophilia: how can you
not love nature when looking
at these figures?
© Ema Peter
Living walls designed by Gustavson Wylie Architects
(www.gwa.ca) in collaboration with Green over Grey
How much technology do offices need? What
is expected of modern workplaces? And will
technology supplant us at work at some point?
Horst Steinbacher is CEO of officeMEDIA
and with his company supplies digital office
concepts. He provides answers relating to the
digital future of the office.
What does a modern digital office concept look like?
At all events, it needs what we call a holistic viewpoint.
This means that all experts specialising in the
themes of human culture, space & technology must
sit down at one table. Today, companies want to adapt
their facilities – work and meeting rooms but also
social and team rooms – to the employees and not the
other way round. We call this human-centred design.
One problem that arises here is that many companies
still think in the extremely hierarchical or exclusively
process-oriented structures of the past. This hinders
things enormously and prevents the unfolding of full
potential. Furthermore, social change accelerates with
future generations. We therefore recommend looking
at the entire organisation from the vantage point of
a user journey map and discussing everything openly
and at eye level. This can be supported by using agile
and creative process and collaboration tools, such
as Miro.com. First comes workspace strategy, then
technology! We at officeMEDIA cannot configure a
perfectly tailor-made digital environment until we find
out the needs of employees, customers and partners.
How does an increase in remote working affect
the office concept?
The pandemic has forced companies to resort to
remote working. But we already foresaw the development
of remote working beforehand, and in the
meantime it has quite obviously become established in
the working world. Overall, we predict that the equipment
of future activity-based zones will be of an even
higher quality. Standard workplaces, namely, one fixed
desk per employee, will be greatly reduced. The zones
in the office will offer more options and flexibility
while reducing the total area. There is a strong trend
towards communication hubs such as team or meeting
rooms, creative rooms, rooms and facilities for social
communication and event zones in the office.
What digital equipment is required for working
Working from home requires the same technical and
ergonomic conditions as a hybrid office, and also the
support of in-house IT services. Our customers’ IT
departments have extended their helpdesk dealing
with questions about communication technology at
the workplace to their employees’ office at home. This
means that every employee avails of exactly the same
service conditions for notebook,
video conference, etc.,
when working from home.
It becomes somewhat more
complicated with regard to
the equipment. We assume
that by 2022 more than
eighty percent of all office
workers will use a notebook
for work and communication.
Things become more
difficult when choosing suitable
tools for video conferencing
or collaboration. The
range is extensive here, but
only few tools are feasible in
the long term. Among those
we recommend is the global
market leader poly.com in
combination with MS Teams
applications. Speaking of
Microsoft Teams: since over
ninety percent of domestic companies use Microsoft
as an office solution, it is obvious that the poly.com
video conference or collaboration tool should also
work closely with MS Teams applications in a tightly
networked and disruption-free handling of media.
Microsoft and poly.com have accordingly merged into
an alliance that perfectly and harmoniously maps the
data exchange. Easy to use.
What digital developments will affect offices
in the future?
Among the factors shaping the rapidly advancing
development of technology at the workplace we must
count artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality
(AR), and the virtual reality (VR) of all office, conference
and meeting rooms, together with the high
digital experience expectation of a new generation
of employees. Any company that doesn’t entertain
the idea of hybrid forms of work in symbiosis with
attractive digital collaborative technologies will in
future find it extremely difficult to arouse the interest
of potential employees. The optimal digital environment
is turning out to be the supreme game changer.
Although robots won’t replace us in our work, smart
technologies are already able to assist us and relieve us
of sometimes tedious routine work.
Horst Steinbacher is CEO of
officeMEDIA in Vienna and
Munich. He is an innovation
driver and scientist especially for
technologies in an increasingly
hybrid working and learning
environment. As a consulting
and planning company,
officeMEDIA is optimally
represented in medium-sized
and ATX companies.
We at officeMEDIA think this
is pretty cool. That is why we
test such ‘useful little helpers’
in our own work environments
in Vienna and Munich and so
obtain valuable information for
Finally, imagine the following:
Marie from Generation Y
works in a modern office
campus. She is connected to her
colleagues around the world
via her MS Teams app and can
work from anywhere. Today,
she can’t make it to the meeting
with her colleagues until later.
So, via MS Teams, she joins
in the meeting while she’s still
on her way to work. When
Marie finally reaches the
campus, the software ensures
a seamless transition to the
Overall, we predict
that the equipment of
zones will be of an
even higher quality.
House of Sustainability:
a pioneering concept
in a historical shell.
Even on approach, the Hofmann House, a fiftheenth-century building and former pewter
foundry in Ried in Upper Austria already strikes the eye with its period charm. If you
enter the Foundry, as it is still called today, you will encounter a combination of modern
and above all sustainable design, embedded in old walls.
The Foundry has recently been named “House of
Sustainability and Regionality”. Hence their users,
too, are companies that orient their activities on
sustainability. In addition to various shops and service
providers, the facilities also include a coworking space
and scope for events and workshops. Wiesner-Hager
supplied a large part of the furniture. Most particularly
in the café the furnishings chosen included the
creative font wooden chair, also the nooi bar stools and
m.zone tables. Motivator of the overall project is the
TRAFOS association, which has set itself the task of
promoting sustainable lifestyles in the region.
Environmentally conscious refurbishment.
The House of Sustainability is a showcase project
exemplifying successful and environmentally conscious
refurbishment. “Most real estate developers
and construction experts rated the house as ripe
for demolition. Neither the room height nor the
electrical and sanitary fittings came anywhere near
meeting current standards. Despite these facts, after
a long period deliberating the priorities of sustainability
and preservation of the architectural heritage,
it was decided to refurbish the existing building and
to attain a well-balanced combination of traditional
A special feature
is the merging of
user areas and
concepts such as
building stock and modern extension”, explains Karl
Weilhartner, TRAFOS deputy chairman. The interior
design was entrusted to Verena Waidmann and Lukas
Gstöttner from the bonpart design studio. The two
designers explain: “Since the Foundry was planned as a
‘House of Sustainability’, the facility should ideally be
a future-oriented interpretation of the theme, one that
goes beyond contemporary formations. A forthright
eco-look would have steered the topic into a niche
where it no longer belongs. This is why we’ve focused
on modernity, high quality and heart-warming comfort
in the design so as to appeal to as many people as
possible and to inspire their enthusiasm for the topic.”
Old meets new.
A special highlight is the café on the first floor of the
building. The historical roof beams enhance the room
with a charm all of their own. If you sit at one of the
small round windows, you can let your gaze wander
over the alleys of the inner city. The dark wooden
chairs, round and whimsical in form, welcome you
with a friendly promise of cosiness and comfort. And
there’s a refreshing and informal counterpoint in modern
bar stools with high tables. Right next to the café
is a small shop with regional delicacies and sustainable
products. “A special feature is the merging of user
areas and concepts such as gastronomy and shop.
In the course of planning, we made sure that the
areas complement each other positively and that the
various requirements don’t come into conflict”,
If you leave the café area and climb the wooden stairs
made of regional ash, you reach the top floor, planned
for coworking spaces and with an area for events and
conferences. “ The coworking area is embedded in
a really impressive setting under the historical roof
timbers. The unique appeal of the design is achieved
by fusing modern, bright Wiesner-Hager workplaces
with the centuries-old beams. Architectural elements
such as the new, waxed concrete floor and the wooden
beams – supported on metal posts as part of the
refurbishment – conjure up an atmosphere that is as
warm and friendly as it is fresh and spacious. A glass
wall with sliding doors divides the room into a
coworking and event area. The other conspicuous
features of this floor are the two atriums with glass
parapets and a floating, organically configured light
sculpture in the roof structure”, says Waidmann.
“The Japanese repair technique ‘Kintsugi’ doesn’t try
to cover or hide damaged areas, but cunningly repairs
them with high-quality materials. This might also
To sum up, you might say one of our
ambitions was go beyond the expected
eco-clichés and demonstrate the core essence
of the theme. Our impressions as product
designers on the international industrial
design scene have made us aware of a distinct
and encouraging trend: in the future, more
and more things will exist whose intrinsic
values and sustainability we shall not be able
to see at first glance. To put it another way, it
will become more normal, a new ecological
standard, if you like. Sustainability is finally
about to shed its image as a niche topic.
be a way of summing up the Foundry agenda. The
spirit and beauty of the centuries-old building were
preserved and complemented as far as possible with
modern, aesthetically pleasing and functional materials.
Weilhartner concludes: “Among other things,
what made this at all possible was that around seventy
association members and shareholders contributed
thousands of hours of work without pay.”
© Lothar Prokop
Total area: 716.51 m²
Client and operator: TRAFOS
Studio bonpart Design
bonpart, Lukas Gstöttner & Verena Waidmann
© Studio Perspektiv, Prague
University flair in the office.
Management literature abounds with titles addressing the organisation of learning. The pivotal question
here is how organisations should develop so they can be characterised by a capability to learn.
One aspect is frequently neglected here: the spatial environment and its underestimated importance
in supporting the ability to learn. Corporate campus is a new interior design concept that fosters
creative collaboration – and thus shared learning.
hub – whether informal one-on-one discussion or
fully fledged event location. In design, anything goes –
as long as it pleases: stepped rostrums are particularly
popular, inviting you to linger but also ideal for presentations,
lectures or briefings. Upholstered furniture,
lounge chairs, cafeteria chairs, bistro tables, sofas –
there’s a long list of options for taking a relaxed break.
Nonetheless, creative freedom is not an end in itself.
It fosters a change in perspective, liberation from the
desk concept, and stimulates creativity and initiative.
If you need a break from working at your desk, the
campus will give you plenty of scope to work elsewhere
from time to time. Of course, the campus is also
ideal for activities during breaks and social interaction.
Depending on the situation, it can be a random
meeting point as well as a coffee break hangout, etc.
So the characteristic feature of this central hub is its
vitality. In practice, however, employers frequently get
While routine tasks will be automated more
and more in the future, creative processes
will be of much greater significance. The
nucleus of attention will be on the innovative
strength of learning organisations that manifest
agile structures and are constantly in motion.
In addition, this calls for meeting places
that are more unconventional, emancipated
from the classic desk. It involves the activation of areas
and spatial zones in the office building that as yet have
hardly been taken into account: underexposed central
or peripheral zones, staircases, entrance areas, crossways
and so on. One creative way of designing central
zones is the corporate campus. Its design conjures
up associations with a university campus: places that
combine learning, work and the private and public
spheres. Quite in the university style, unused spatial
zones are converted not only into places for creative
collaboration, but also for relaxed communication.
The campus flair mellows the occasionally inhibiting
character of formal meeting and conference rooms.
The campus thus becomes a central meeting point and
nervous about too much easygoing conviviality, spatial
freedom and reduced efficiency. Nevertheless, studies
on activity-based working demonstrate the opposite:
attractively designed encounter zones are beneficial
for everyone. Innovation and creativity levels are
enhanced when employees can avail of multiple and
ideal opportunities for spontaneous encounters and
conversations. Well-designed crossways and hubs
offer more potential for success than a complex
team-building measure. But it’s important that the
respective design matches the corporate philosophy.
The corporate campus will thus come to be a core
component of modern offices because it is fertile
ground for New Work to flourish and reach fruition.
How to look good
for video conferencing.
Organisation consultants have been promoting remote communication via video conferencing for
many years now. The advantages are undisputed – reducing travel saves time and costs and protects
the environment: two flights from Vienna to London produce more CO 2 than the complete equipment
for a conference room throughout its entire life cycle. Nevertheless, a pandemic had to happen before
the idea of remote meetings was kissed awake and immediately hit the limelight. Speaking of the
limelight: not all participants are aware that certain quality criteria apply just as much to their online
presence as to their physical, face-to-face conversations. Below you can find some recommendations
on how to look good during video talks.
Modern collaboration technology
as basic requirement.
Oops! The picture’s jerky, the sound cuts out, or the
meeting only starts after a 15-minute delay because
the dial-in doesn’t work. But this doesn’t have to be
the case: technology companies have achieved a great
deal in recent years and months in hard- and software
for conferencing. They now provide sophisticated,
easy-to-use products of high video and audio quality.
The prices – especially in the professional sector – are
significantly lower than they were ten years ago. But
we are still left with the issue of the Internet connection:
stable lines and sufficient bandwidth are basic
requirements for quality online talks. It’s not possible
to make a general statement about the transmission
rate since it depends heavily on the type of work and
the applications. To be on the safe side, you can refer
to the provider in order to guarantee the highest – but
admittedly the most expensive – bandwidth.
Positive prevailing mood thanks to
a creatively designed setting.
The first impression counts – also online: and this
first impression starts with you – for more than fifty
percent of communication proceedings are enacted
non-verbally. For example, if you stage your video
meeting from your home office wearing your pyjamas,
it may (or may not) go down well in a team meeting
with your workmates. But for more formal meetings
take care to maintain an appropriate dress code. Your
outfit, like the background design, has a considerable
influence on visual mood and transmission quality.
Strong contrasts – for instance a black top worn
against a white background – should be avoided. Instead,
you should wear appealing colours that are not
too robust and not overly patterned. The setting can
be slightly structured. One or two creative accents –
such as pictures or image visuals – catch attention and
often break the ice in the talk. Altogether, you should
try to establish a relaxed and reassuring atmosphere.
This also applies to furniture in the field of vision, a
table or shelves for instance.
The ideal spatial setting for
Hybrid conferences in meeting rooms with physically
present and virtual participants require the tables
to be arranged in such a way that the configuration
visually supports face-to-face communication between
the participants. To put it simply: all participants
should be clearly visible on screen. This applies to
rooms with both smaller and larger groups. Even
if modern conferencing cameras can be focused on
the speaker source, constant panning of the camera
should be avoided, as it often annoys and can also
impair image quality. For the set-up, this means: avoid
excessively spread-out table arrangements and place
additional microphones for elongated set-ups or larger
rooms. And last but not least: do not point the camera
directly at bright light sources and windows.
A typical but not ideal-typical set-up in a
meeting room for hybrid communication:
there should be a distance of two to three metres
between the first (occupied) chair and the
camera so that the camera doesn’t have to pan.
The room camera should be positioned at a
height of approx. 120 to 140 centimetres –
ideally below the display – to enable a talk at
Useful tips for
everyday office life.
Putting a stop to the mess.
Trello is a straightforward and flexible visual tool you can
use to manage and organise projects. Trello is trusted
by millions of users around the world. It costs between
$ 0.– in the “Free” version, and $ 10.– per user per
month in the “Premium” version.
The new experience
in wireless headphones.
QuietComfort earbuds fulfil every criterion.
A highly efficient premium driver ensures a superlative
sound experience. Microphones on the inside and
outside of the earbuds pick up all noises, react immediately
and generate a corresponding counter signal
for the most effective noise reduction. QC earbuds are
available in the colours Triple Black, Soapstone and two
limited editions, Sandstone and Stone Blue, and have a
battery life of up to eighteen hours.
Formerly a lorry, now a laptop bag!
Laptop bags by “Freitag” are based on an
ingenious idea. Discarded lorry tarpaulins
are transformed into highly functional
one-off bags. The idea might not
be new (the first prototype was
produced in 1993), but it’s still
brilliant. Each bag is unique.
F304 MOSS, specially developed
for mobile equipment.
Available in all FREITAG stores,
from selected retailers and at
© Bruno Alder
a job shared gets
the work done.
Full time or part time? Today, the options are
more diverse than ever. With new models such
as job sharing, firms can integrate temporary
or permanent constructs for planning working
hours that benefit both employers and
In job sharing, the content of a full-time position is
divided physically between two people. Usually this
involves a very demanding position with a comprehensive
competence portfolio. In contrast to the classic
part-time position, the tasks are performed jointly in
From pairing to splitting.
However, job sharing can take various forms. Job
pairing means that two people are simultaneously
responsible for all the tasks of a full-time position.
Then there’s job splitting. Here the position is exactly
divided. Each partner has precisely assigned areas of
responsibility. And top sharing refers to managerial-level
tasks that are performed in a team. The classic
division of a 100-percent position is 50/50 for each
of the two employees. In practice, however, there are
also other ways of splitting the work, such as 40/60.
The exact division must be individually adapted to
each situation. Job sharing is often only used temporarily
to complete an important project or to prepare
the successor for taking on a position. The important
thing here is to set down the exact conditions of the
job-sharing model in the employment contract.
There are wide-ranging advantages for the employer
– double expertise, greater efficiency, and much
more. Employees benefit from flexible time allocation
and experience-sharing with their job partner.
The model is also excellent for reintegrating parents
after their leave. Of course, job sharing not only
has advantages, but also involves increased organisational
investment. Communication between the
partners has to work, so when choosing the team it
is important that there is harmony and sympathy
in the tandem.
Spatial requirements for job sharers.
Besides their tasks, many job sharers share their
workplaces as well, or do their work in the same
office. Job splitters can use a shared desk by allotting
their areas of activity. The requirement here is that
both partners have agreed on attendance times.
Top sharers or job pairers need zones in the office
for communication and collaboration since they
deal collectively with their work and the decisionmaking.
Particularly helpful features in making job
sharing as uncomplicated and as efficient as possible
include intelligently deployed central zones, collaborative
areas in team offices, temporary silent rooms
as a retreat for undisturbed work, and dedicated
Offices around the world
© Sergey Melnikoff / Sberbank
For thirteen long years, the office building stood as an unfinished shell in Moscow’s financial
district. The Russian Sberbank took over the ruin and in it created a chipper and cheerful
office world. Its heart is a conference hall like a cut diamond suspended on twenty steel
cables in the atrium. Daring!
© Sergey Melnikoff / Sberbank
Like multicoloured televisions the polygonal projections
protrude into the cold, unembellished inner
courtyard. Expressionistic steel boxes, six in number,
house the intern meeting rooms of the individual
departments. “As a contrast to the otherwise cool
architecture of the atrium, we decided to inject life
and energy into the meeting rooms”, says Tanya
Ruegg, creative director at the Zurich planning office
Evolution Design, “and not only the furniture, but
also the floor, wall and ceiling.” They are warm, snug
caves conceived at the interface between the intimacy
of concentrated work and a side open to public view.
The Sberbank headquarters, although the largest financial
institution in Russia and Eastern Europe, isn’t
located in a new building like their rivals’ headquarters,
most of them on the opposite side of the river
in the futuristic skyscraper district of Moscow City,
but in an unspectacular building started in 2007 but
never completed. The unfinished shell on Kutuzovsky
Prospect stood for years on the banks of the Moscow
River until Sberbank decided for reasons of resource
technology to waive the idea of a new building and to
refurbish and extend the ruin with a contemporary
“The building structure was therefore self-evident”,
says Ruegg. “Our task was to work within this strict
portfolio and create an office environment as open
and inviting as possible for flexible and activity-based
work.” Grey carpet and cream-coloured linoleum
predominate on the office floors, moreover, the
planners opted for light, friendly types of wood and
ring-shaped ceiling lights. Various interventions
intermittently relieve this very neutral structure:
colourfully furnished job clusters, amorphous glass
boxes with diverse ornaments on the panes, and an
interplay of open spaces and slightly offset regeneration
areas partitioned off by curved screens.
“Particularly in the banking business we usually find
neutral, soberly designed office environments, but
our idea was to reflect the fluid and flexible corporate
culture in the rooms. So there are hardly any orthogonal
rooms in the entire building, but mainly curved
and triangular or polygonal room flows. We wanted
to inject a certain dynamism into the rooms.” This
is reflected in the flexible workstations, also in the
overall office structure, which supports great deployment
versatility. Each floor has in addition its own
© Sergey Melnikoff / Sberbank
Offices around the world
reception area and can be decoupled from the rest of
the building and operated autonomously, if necessary.
But the undeniable heart of the entire building is the
central meeting room for twelve to fourteen people.
Like a cut and polished diamond made of glass and
stainless steel, the daring construction hovers in
nothingness, buoyed in the air – reminiscent of a giant
spider’s web – by twenty traction cables. “You won’t
find a suspended room of this size a second time in
Europe”, says Polina Voevodina, project manager at
© Sergey Melnikoff / Sberbank
the Moscow partner office T + T Architects, which
was mainly in charge of the official side of the technical
Lurking within this apparent lightness is a fair amount
of elaborate monitoring technology: each individual
steel cable is equipped with a tension sensor and monitored
around the clock. In the event of the slightest
irregularity, a signal is immediately transmitted to
the technical centre. A green detail on the side: the
planners from Evolution Design and T + T Architects
maintained the strict criteria of LEED and breeam
in their selection of products and building materials,
however, no certification was obtained for the building.
Tanya Ruegg: “To be honest, we didn’t have the
time. We were traveling in the fast lane. It took exactly
twenty months from the draft to the handover of
© Sergey Melnikoff / Sberbank
What’s on your desk?
What’s on your desk,
Boulevard de la Bastille, located directly on Canal Saint-Martin, a few
steps away from the Opéra Bastille. This is the very spot where for fifteen
years or so one of the most famous architects in France, Manuelle
Gautrand, has had her office. “I love this building”, she says, the woman
with the everlasting smile. “This is a simple but absolutely beautiful
industrial building from the 1920s, with a frame structure of industrial
reinforced concrete and brick walls, and a long line of windows. And
just as in those days, some commercial firms still rent premises here
– printing shops, toy manufacturers and small jewellery workshops
that even operate their own smelting furnaces. And so we’re here,
too, the creative people – architectural firms, design studios, startups,
coworking spaces and business incubators. It’s a great, wild mix.”
Manuelle Gautrand’s studio is on the fourth floor, 300 square metres
of it. She has remodelled and rebuilt the offices a number of times,
using it herself as an experimental laboratory for her own architectural
language. Her actual workroom she deploys exclusively for confidential
discussions and zoom conferences, and is separated from her employees’
open-plan office by plywood and glass walls. This harmonises with
the industrial charm of the entire building, she says. And it complies
with their company philosophy – uncomplicated, transparent and
egalitarian. We visited the Parisian architect and talked to her about
the design of her workplace.
© Studio Gaudin Ramet
© Manuelle Gautrand Architecture
I like the raw aesthetic and warm tactile quality of plywood. It’s a
cheap yet very sensuous material that blends in wonderfully with
the industrial spirit of the reinforced concrete skeleton.
A photo of our refurbishment project in the Gaité Lyrique in Paris,
which we completed in 2011 – a flamboyant pink room with large,
mobile seat sculptures.
I can’t work without paper. Nor without a touch of chaos. Sometimes
I check out old concept brochures again years later to see
how the plans and concepts have turned out and how a building
has actually evolved after completion.
We work a lot with models, especially in wood, gypsum and
cardboard. I make some models myself to familiarise myself more
with the project.
I love plants. Most of all cacti! Four years ago, I went on holiday
to Mexico for the first time, and I’ve had a passion for cactus ever
since. We also have a huge climbing plant in the office; it clings to
reinforced concrete beams, cable ducts and acoustic panels and
grows incessantly from year to year.
My Eero Saarinen table: I love marble in all its forms and types.
And for me the table is the perfect symbiosis of geometry and
Matching white Panton chairs.
A handbag with Bambi? Why not! As an architect, you spend part
of your time dreaming. This means as well that you’re allowed
deep down to remain a child.
We have lots of books and magazines in the office. In my own
workroom I mostly have art catalogues, urban planning books,
writings on architectural theory and publications on nature, landscape
and garden design.
This is a 3D-printed plastic model of a concept store with a radial,
circular construction grid we designed for Cairo. Unfortunately, the
project was not built. Dreaming and not building is part of my job.
garden and café.
Remote work apart from working
at home & at the office.
Remote work, i.e., working independently of location, is often
equated with working from home. But the places that lend themselves
to mobile work are legion. We want to present to you a few
options other than the office mainstream.
Outdoors: the workplace
in a world of green.
Even as a child you were told: run
outside and get some fresh air! Yet
today we sit in the office for up to
nine hours a day. All remote workers have the option
of temporarily relocating their workplace outdoors.
The bad news: sadly, tanking up on sunlight can’t be
reconciled with work at the computer screen. So look
for a quiet place – a park or (restaurant) garden – with
enough shade so you can see what you’re tapping into
your notebook and your device doesn’t overheat and
leave you high and dry.
The cruise ship: desks
ahoy on the high seas.
Since we’re talking about
mobile working, how about
a cruise? A voyage across the sea lasting days doesn’t
offer much scenic variety – perfect conditions for
working without distraction and stress. But caution:
the space in your cabin is not what you’d call opulent.
So it’s essential to clarify beforehand where to set up
your office on the ship. And the Internet connection
might also present a problem. By the way, do you get
The café: productivity with
cappuccino and cake.
The café has always been an inspiring
place and a setting for many a writer
to ply his trade. Reason enough to
pack your laptop and get stuck into work accompanied
by coffee and cake. Admittedly, working in this
remote space is not that simple. It requires preparation.
First of all, you have to find the right location for
this gastronomic work experience. Make sure of your
internet connection, outlets, sufficient seating and
a low noise level. If you plan to use your temporary
workplace for an extended period, don’t forget to order
a morsel or two every one and a half hours – after
all, the restaurant owner has to stay in pocket, too.
Once you have chosen your place to be, make sure you
pack your notebook charger, headphones and your
work documents, not forgetting your keys and wallet.
The train: The way is the goal.
Do you have to travel a lot for your work
and are irked by unproductive hours in
the car? What about taking the train for
dealing with pressing jobs during the
journey? Most trains are equipped with WiFi and
outlets. A seat reservation guarantees you your
mobile desk. On top of that, you’ll earn a medal
as a climate hero.
Camper van: work
You think it’s a great idea to have
a different view from your office
every day? A trip in the camper van is ideal to bring
a change of scenery into everyday work – mobile
working in the truest sense of the word. But what at
first sounds exciting needs a great deal of planning. In
order to do a good job, at all events you need a stable
internet connection. So don’t travel to remote places.
Apart from this, the camper doesn’t offer much room,
which restricts your workplace and possibly hinders
you in your work.
Workation: Go South!
You, the laptop, the palm trees… We’re all
familiar with these images. Sounds tempting,
doesn’t it, but it’s only half as romantic
the scene suggests. We’ve known for a
long time that the screen and the midday sun are not
the best of friends. This means you’re shackled inside
during your workation period (also because of the
mainly high temperatures). Although after work and
at the weekend, you can play happy holidaymakers
and enjoy the sea. But don’t go too far away because a
possible time shift hinders work with your colleagues.
Open units, central zones and hubs, or
relaxation oases: to meet the demands of
modern working environments, in m.zone
Wiesner-Hager has created flexible modules
for New Work offices.
Future offices will provide employees with sophisticated,
adaptable work environments that generate
a task-supportive atmosphere. This means fade-out
for rigid spatial structures. Requirements are more
closely oriented on activities. “Activity Based Working”
(ABW) is the order of the day. With m.zone,
Wiesner-Hager has developed a completely new
furnishing concept for offices which can be integrated
perfectly into the organisation of agile companies.
m.zone consists of individual elements such as screens,
combination and free-standing furniture. New worlds
of work can be created out of this modular furniture
– tailored in every way to suit the customer’s individual
ideas. Deployment areas in office architecture
are wide-ranging: m.zone is ideally compatible with
open-plan offices, central zones and hubs, crossways
and lounges, likewise in reception and waiting areas.
m.zone supports the philosophy of Activity-Based
Working. What’s on the agenda at the moment?
How much space does this need? And what does
the best place for these activities look like? In contrast
to classic desk sharing, ABW focuses on choosing the
workplace most suitable for the respective activity
profile. Modern offices are making more and more
space available in particular to accommodate collaboration.
The office is gradually becoming a place of
encounter. New types of rooms and spaces also enable
work to be done away from the classic desk. Open yet
small-structured coworking units are ideal for team
and project work and the development of creative ideas.
In supplying these work area options, m.zone has
come up with three different module categories for
For concentrated, temporary tasks –
inspired by the role of a classic secretary
– the work modules are designed based
on the respective combination to provide
individual and to some extent shielded
workstations for occasional jobs.
Spatial zones for collaboration and communication:
variably concatenated screens form the basis for
flexible (team) meetings, informal talks, workshops
for brainstorming and so forth. Depending on use,
the furniture can be chosen very individually.
Quiet zones and islands of retreat:
comfortable seating and screening
partitions create a relaxed atmosphere
during breaks, informal talks and
Rethink your office.
Seven scenarios for office space
planning after the coronavirus.
On the way to normality in the working world, it is necessary not just to overcome (short-term)
health-policy obstacles, but also to rethink sustainable developments in office design. While we are
currently mainly occupied with measures related to physical distancing in the office, companies will
also face many changes in the long term after the coronavirus. Seven scenarios for the office working
world are of special significance.
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