The Easy Office

Case study: Canary Wharf, London, England

Project details

A fundamental research and de- and reconstruction of the typical large scale headquarter office, into a more qualitative, human-scaled, pleasant, healthy and sustainable model. Following a radical simplification and ‘easy’ architectural approach where a working space with more liberty, challenging programmatic combinations, and a more comfortable environment with natural light and ventilation and openable facades is offered.

The project is driven by the Give Me Back My Freedom-manifest with observations on the status quo of our spatial environment – the characterless, artificial, conditioned and interiorised environment – and its effect on us as users. It proposes a radical shift in design approach, to regain qualities and answer to the global urgencies we are facing. Are our built environment, our buildings and products that we use daily actually ‘logical’? And is the organisation and design of these elements optimal? There must be a better way.

A design driven research illustrates the manifest. The Easy Office offers a new prototype for the standard single-tenant office for a big bank, based on the volume and all market’s standard requirements, with the aim to maximise quality and liberty in usage. The office as the typology being most exemplary for the generic and artificial character and the interiorisation of our built environment; the result of the mindset of our culture and symbol of capitalism. A place where millions of people spend their time every day, but gives almost in any case a feeling of sadness and creates the most desolate environments of our built environment. It has the possibility to most clearly illustrate the potential of a maximised quality for its users.
The Easy Office answers to the problems and missed opportunities of current archetypical-solutions as first illustration of this possible, appealing future: from a ‘dead box’ to a more sympathetic, healthier working-environment, and from a large-scale, mono-functional cluster as ‘dead district’ to a qualitative environment

Jeroen Zuidgeest PORTFOLIO 2014 6
1 The Easy Office

The research deconstructs the typology, investigating the office’s different standards, which reveals the different crises of the typical office: the ‘sealed’ interior and working-environment with a quality that can be strongly criticised, and the tower as paradigm for the office, to express corporate identity and as main reason for the lack of urban quality in office-districts.
Secondly, the raison-d’être for the office tower and the characteristics of the environment of the office-district have been investigated, from which arguments that disprove the need of the tower as archetype for the office can be concluded.

Based on these investigations the Easy Office was reconstructed following an easy architecture and simplification of engineering solutions. It focusses on the elements that influence the quality of the working environment the strongest: volume and climate / facade. Following optimal sun-orientation, daylight-access and interaction with the surrounding environment, the volume is optimised. Following a radical simplification of all elements of the building, the quality of the working environment is improved into a healthier, naturally regulated environment, with more quality. Following a series of interventions in circulations to optimise communication and flexibility, and the addition of a series of ‘activators’, liberty in usage, and the effectiveness for working-processes is maximised.

The result is a ‘rack’ of spacious and open floors with a warehouse-like quality as platform for activities – a work machine in a positive sense – that challenges its users to use, adjust, optimise and activate their environment in the broadest sense.
‘Machines’ or activators, that regulate climate, organise logistics and social interaction, are added. Each one contributes in a specific manner to this work machine and creates an added value to the building’s character.
They create a collection of (arche)types within the typology as identifiable elements that directly represent what they add: the Light-bays, the Brise-soleil Balconies, the Windscreen, the Air-and-elevator Shafts with the Wind-holes, the Diagonal Voids, the Service Towers, the Business Foyer with the ‘Business-accelerators’, the Solar-roof with the Kitchen Beam, the Shortcut (escalators) and the led-light covered Monitor (real-time displaying the trading floor and investment actions as next step in ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’). Enjoy your freedom!

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Role Urban research and architecture Client Graduation project Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design, Nomination Archiprix NL Program Office program Size 100,000 m² Year 2007 Status Completed