Reporting on the Bop! What is the Creative Workplace? challenges for design, business and strategic HR in the knowledge economy (Central Saint Martins Innovation Centre, Southampton Row, London)
Tricia Austin, Bop! co-investigator, Course Director, MA Creative Practice For Narrative Environments, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design
People are dissatisfied with their workspaces. We need to innovate in the global knowledge economy Not just talking about the creative studio but the workplace. We also want to demonstrate the Bop! research outputs.
Keynote: Dr Frank Duffy, Founder, DEGW: Building on Memory or Building or the Future?
When I was training there was a lot of attention paid to design of housing, but no idea of user input into office design. Assumed we knew what offices were. Found reference by Reyner Banham in about Bureau Landschaft (office landscaping. Also influenced by US thinking on office space planning. Then worked with IBM. Challenge of understanding how differentiated European needs and expectations were.
Conventions in use of space and time. Step change taking place that is equivalent to that of the industrial revolution. Amazed about how inhibiting office building can be. Architecture/space planning has failed to solve many problems in this area. How to use space in a catalytic, creative way. The three Es: Efficiency, effectiveness and expression. [Key]
British Museum masterplan project: about memory, interface with the public. What do places do? what are they for? Buildings are "built out of time" not steel and glass. Challenges of new temporal and spatial conventions. What justifies space in an increasingly virtual world? [Key]
See comments by Richard Sennett in a recent lecture. Erosion of public space, over-determined forms and gross scale are all indictments of current building. Invisible processes generate highly visible disasters: Chain of investors; chain of planners and architects; chain of corporate real estate, facilities managers, IT, etc. Unpicking these is a big intellectual task for us. Don't re-invent C20.
Buildings and time
Christopher Alexander: "A building or town will be alive to the extent that it is governed by the Timeless Way" see The timeless way of building . And Stewart Brand on what happens to buildings after they are built in How Buildings Learn. Levels of design: Shell (50 years); Services (15 years); Scenery (5 years); Sets (5 days). Brand picked up on the separation of delivery systems. Add up the costs and you will find that "architecture is a branch of interior design".
See the Centraal Beheer, Herman Hertzberger, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, 1972, allowing people to bring in their artifacts [check]. The Larkin Building, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buffalo NY, 1904 (demolished). Architecture is inevitably about politics and values. See limited degrees of freedom of certain employees.
The evolution of the office building
Taylorist office: post-craft, human being as a unit of production. Scientific management. Dominant office type "being replicated as we speak. The Social Democratic Office: post-WWII, reaction against totalitarianism (see Hertzberger, and Niels Torp SAS offices, Stockholm 1988). The Networked Office: made possible by robust, reliable, powerful, ubiquitous C21 IT.
Why are there so many cubicles ('cubes') in US offices? The delivery mechanism. SAS offices is about equality. Has a street that links the buildings, boardroom ("the theatre of decision-making") is transparent. Taylorist office assumes work is about concentration, not collaboration; that buildings are about exchange. Social Democratic Office could only happen in countries in which there is long term investment, privately held companies, democratic values [check all], etc.
New temporal and spatial conventions
MIT Professor Bill Mitchell's iron laws on workplace a product of synchrony and co-location. But work is incredibly mobile today with ubiquitous networks. More shared than individually owned spaces, for face-to-face work with large numbers of people. Role of physical environment in communicating to employees [check]: "If you want to make people miserable and unhappy use architecture".
New real estate strategies: core and non-core space. But mobile working is not new. See the worklife of Samuel Pepys (see Pepys' Diary). And the invention of the coffee house for 'semi-programmed' interactions and the 'happy accident' (Dr Johnson).
The justification of place in an increasingly virtual world
Virtual - Physical. See Starbucks as a semi-permanent, privileged environment. In reality it points out a gap in the architecture of cities. [Notes that advanced telepresence systems are quite compelling.]
How do you justify place in an increasingly virtual world? Memory; Chance; Sociability; Meaning. What Lewis Mumford (books) called 'the Culture of Cities'. Why are London and New York still so successful in C21? They are dense, multiple, overlapping networks. Distribution of space in C17 Rome (and other cities) included much semi-permeable space. Soho vs Canary Wharf. Former is economically successful, while latter is too much about security. Bank of England (Soane, 1820) was a fortress but was toplit, like the Pantheon, and (originally) semi-permeable, for transactions with its customers.
Reversing Sennett's critique
- Appropriate scale: smaller, cheaper...
- Building that can learn
- More permeable public and semi-public urban space
"Buildings should justify themselves by the ideas they generate"
Design Dilemmas: Retaining a creative workplace as you growChair: Philip Ross
Rakhi Rajani, the Bop! design research team
[Report on photographic-/interview-based research on creative studios]
How to design the workspace to support creative thinking: Ben Adams
What does your lobby say about you? We need to "lobby hard for lobbies".
Importance of keeping it calm
Toilets are important
Discusses ex-Emap building in Bowling Green Lane and how to unify it and make it more efficient. Also, what to do with 25 year lease
Lucien Freud's house/studio hasn't been 'over-refurbished'
Does increasing the scale of a creative workplace reduce the creative output?, Enrico Caruso (Gensler)
To establish if a space is performing need to look at: People/Identity – Space – Performance – Process - Technology
[Reports on Workplace survey findings]
Gensler, SF office: has communal spaces for chance encourages but also for telling a story [check]. Need for people to be able to adapt spaces.
[Missed a section]
Technology as an enabler: not a replacement for face to face. Example of Corinthian Television (client of Disney). Moved to Chiswick Park. Evaluation: staff retention has increased 150%
- Need to acknowledge the user
- It is about collaboration
- More and more space are about telling a story of the brands
Questions from David Excell, Innovaro; Frank Duffy; Nicola [?], HR magazine; Dale Russell, Central Saint Martin's visiting professor. Discussion of whether only creative people need creative workspaces; whether need to tell a story is an issue at all scales; impact of home working, mobile devices and work/life balance; balance of work vs meeting spaces; the limits of the designers role and the risk of too much sharing.
What is the optimal number for a creative community? Enrico: 35 or so. Rakhi: above 4-5 leads to 'meeting fests' to allow people to catch up. Ben: 3-10 seem to be able to work effectively.
What Web 2.0 means for the Creative Workplace Environment, David Excell, Head of TMT/innovation strategy, Innovaro
Innovation is creativity plus implementation
Value of social networks:
- Creative input from extended social networks. Can now post questions to your extended network on LinkedIn
- Who knows what about what. Who are the hubs of knowledge? See Creative Path for determining which colleague has the best connections to a possible client, and Trampoline Systems used to figure out who knows what.
- Facilitating the 'free agent nation' between people who need/have IP
- Access to distribution/promotional channels
Rapid prototyping and testing, eg: BBC Backstage, Google Labs, use of Second Life in prototyping new hotel concept by Starwood Hotels.
InnoCentive, Nine Sigma for innovation. MySpace and Radiohead In Rainbows models for music business.
What does this mean for the creative workspace? [Shows traditional cubicles vs Google offices.] Need for getting things to happen. Cubeville 2.0. See MIT Things that Think programme, eg: Serendipity tool for matching interests, UbER-Badge, helping you to meet people it might take you longer to meet otherwise. .
Questions from Nico Macdonald, Frank Duffy and others on whether Facebook is actually 'cube'-like; the lack of 'at handness' and context of use of information sharing tools such as Facebook; whether it wise to allow geeks to design our social interactions; and why when we have the technology in our phones already, eg: Bluetooth, we don't do these things already. Speaker: when you get the interaction design right that is when the real power can be realised.See DAON's biometrics tools
HR: what are they there for? Motivating employees, who are not engagement by management but are by saving the planet.
IBM Second Life tools for teaching employees about processes. But work should be work
Technological innovation is not the same as being creative. And creativity is not the same as play (to Rakhi).
See my book
The story so far
The office can't make people creative. Danger of design determinism ("We shape our buildings: thereafter they shape us" Winston Churchill). See Hilary Cottam on properly designed furniture improving education.
Expressive values preferred to efficiency [check]
Interstices are badly handled
See my book Why is construction so backward (John Wiley & Sons, 2004)
Community is something you grow up in, and get the hell out of (John Perry Barlow)
Need or for spaces for rapid prototyping is good. Walls of Stickies doesn't do the business when you need to effectively deliver.
BBC wants to have best buildings as it is the most creative organisation. But everyone wants to be the most creative organisation.
See Linda Gratton effusive Hot Spots book. But in the knowledge economy why does Gordon Brown deny knowledge around recently scandals. Networking doesn't end hierarchy. At InterSections argued that innovation is the combination of other ideas. But this won't produce the theory of relativity, or a maglev train from London to Manchester.
Harvard Business Review (where you read tomorrow's news today) is talking up inter-generational differences despite their being (see The Next 20 Years, Neil Howe and William Strauss) more attenuated today. A product of lack of adult confidence. Do not patronise the youth, etc. Talk up what innovation really is, such as Saul Bass's Psycho titles. [Quotes Marcus Aurelius on human strength.]
Why do we have so little leadership [check]. See OECD Main Science and Technology indicators. See BERR Scoreboard, November 2007. Grant to UK robotics about that of the cost of a Chelsea house.
We do live in a culture of fear, even in the creative industries. Believe that the communication rather than production of knowledge is the main event. It isn't (despite McLuhan). See Rachel Carson Silent Spring. Wary of science and technology, scientific method, rather we like the play of scientific paradigms (Kuhn). If you are afraid of unknown unknowns how do you move forward? [Presentation cut short due to AV failure.]
[Question not noted.] Speaker: funky-ness doesn't change the world. A space can't substitute for a proper R&D budget. Not against Stickies, etc. Don't like blue funk. Real innovation is hard work. Question: other than budgets, what can be a platform for innovation? Speaker: see perhaps pharmaceuticals [check]. See Eric Burn Games People Play (1966) on idea that much interaction that is assumed to be creative is really about people 'stroking each other', ie: no external value. Nico Macdonald: what changes in nature of leadership, and if there are changes what has driven them? Speaker: see Jim Collins From Good to Great and rethink of the celebrity CEO. Warren Bennis argued for more emotive leadership, and this is also seen in political leaders such as Blair.[Notes for afternoon session available on request.]