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Human + Nature Office Design: Design to Support and Enhance Work and Life

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Title:Human + Nature Office Design: Design to Support and Enhance Work and Life
Authors:Wong, Dayton Hinu
Contributors:Noe, Joyce (advisor)
Architecture (department)
Date Issued:May 2011
Abstract:This study investigates how architecture can improve the well‐being and productivity of urban office workers by examining the problems with traditional high‐rise office building and discovering new methodologies to design offices that support the basic human needs of employees, the demands of the modern 21st workplace and the need to be environmentally sustainable. Research on the traditional office environment has provided evidence that they do not support the well‐being of workers and the demands of the 21st century workplace. There is evidence that shows that the disconnection, both physically and visually, from the natural environment is detrimental to the health and satisfaction of employees. Some common problems include poor indoor air quality, Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), worker stress, absenteeism and low job satisfaction. Sustainability has also been a challenge in high‐rise office building because it lacks a human connection and a deeper meaning that goes beyond energy saving, which is not always enough to justify the added cost of a sustainable office. Current sustainable practices lack a connection to human benefit and experience, so it is difficult for a building to be sustainable overtime if the building does not provide added value and a deeper meaning that evokes stewardship. Most offices today do not support the work processes and values of the 21st century workplace. Spaces were designed to separate people based on the type of work they did, which does not support today’s collaborative, interdisciplinary workforce. Space was distributed based on traditional models, instead of where space is needed most. This often meant a generous lobby up front and small cubicles with no spaces for teaming in the back. New office space typologies were developed to address the problems with the traditional office. The hypothesis of this study is that “Human+Nature” space typologies can improve the well‐being of workers while supporting the needs of the 21st century workplace. These Human+Nature space typologies are informed by two sets of attributes that describe the sensitivities required of each space. The Biophilic Human Needs attributes, are derived from Biophilia, which believes that humans have an innate attraction and fascination with nature and depend on it for their physical and mental well‐being. The Operational attributes come from the needs of the 21st century workplace, the work processes and values of a specific company and the physical environment necessary for health and wellbeing. H+N | 13 The relevance and value of these space typologies were established through 4 processes: Preference Experiment, secondary surveys and data, case studies and finally a design project. The design project is a redesign of an existing office space in a high‐rise, glassskinned building, using the Human+Nature space typologies and the two matrices, the Biophilic Human Needs Matrix and the Operational Attributes Matrix. Communications Pacific (CP) agreed to be the client in this hypothetical design project. A client analysis was conducted to determine the values, goals and work processes of CP. Their office was analyzed to determine the successes, challenges and needs of their current space. The matrices were used as a guideline that was further tailored to support and strengthen the unique identity, values and work processes of CP and their employees. New space typologies were identified as necessary to support the goals and values of CP. These include a gallery space, locker room and showers and a kitchen and dining area. The design response was a synthesis of Biophlic Human Needs, demands of the 21st century office and the values and work processes of the client, Communications Pacific, all while integrating sustainable features that provide added value and human benefit. The Biophilic Human Needs Matrix and the Operational Attributes matrix were shown to be successful tools in designing for the needs of the employee and the demands of the 21st century workplace. The Human+Nature office not only improves the health and well‐being of the employees, but also uses the work environment as a business tool to maximize the value of its employees while strengthening the company’s unique identity and values providing a truly sustainable office that supports and enhances work and life.
Pages/Duration:182 pages
Appears in Collections: D.ARCH. - Architecture

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