'An office that goes with the flow!'
Just like elsewhere, Dutch ministries are lacking spatial support for emerging new (post-COVID) work forms. Simultaneously, large office canteens go unused outside the traditional lunch rush. How can we create an innovative concept that bridges these two aspects?
In collaboration with Random Studio, we got the opportunity to rethink the whole third floor of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of the Interior Affairs building. It offered a chance to explore burning questions on the future of work at the second largest office space in The Netherlands.
Informed by extensive qualitative and quantitative data on how people move through this space and what they would like to use it for, we came up with the 'Sluispoort' – in engineering, a responsive mechanism that optimizes the flow of water – as the backbone for a series of modular spatial interventions. Each Sluispoort will change state depending on the activities and needs. Oopening or closing– for example, to accommodate short informal meetings, to then change into a portal for smooth flows of people during lunch rush hour.
Along with the rise of the knowledge economy, technological developments, and, of course, the covid epidemic, new standards for work have emerged. Work is increasingly flexibly organized, allowing us to work where and when you want. Work takes place in increasingly varying compositions and 'modes' - from individually focused to brainstorming with a hybrid group. We found that the current standard requires enormous flexibility from the people themselves. You have to search and decide where to sit. You must provide the equipment and conditions in which you work most comfortably. In our proposal we tried to reverse this fact. By using innovative technologies in new ways, we are moving towards a relationship between people and space where the responsibility to be flexible is placed on space, rather than on people. It is the space that has the intelligence to adapt and think along, according to a diversity of use(s).
During the prototype phase we are collecting data on how people use and experience the space in various possible configurations. The transformation of the Sluispoort is operated manually, but eventually should be autonomous and responsive to data received through sensors and able to predict the activity of the space.