Make Architects founder and president of the British Council of Offices (BCO), Ken Shuttleworth, talks about the future of workplace design ahead of this year’s BCO conference in London.
What one thing do you think needs to change in the next generation of offices?
We need to consider and elevate the shared amenity spaces – the breakout spaces, cafés, gyms. These should be an integral part of the building. Places to work are no longer just rows of desks; they are places to meet, collaborate, share. The social side is critical.
Do you think the offices you have designed over the last 10 years are flexible enough to respond to future demands?
That’s an open-ended question really – how far into the future do we go? Most buildings are built to last 25-30 years, but we have always tried to exceed that. And where the client shares in our ambitions, we always look to push the boat further. 55 Baker Street is a renovation completed in 2008 which has served numerous occupants and easily performs on par with newbuilds.
Has the environmental challenge of office design been cracked?
No. There have been huge strides, but without doubt more needs to be done. Glass is still the material of choice for office facades, which, when combined with the need for cooling, instantly present an environmental challenge. It’s not just the engineer’s job though – there needs to be a cultural shift to push sustainability up the agenda.