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Shuttleworth: ‘Foster’s Bloomberg building will be a standout office of this generation’

  • 4 Comments

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 is the main theme for this year’s BCO conference?
London Refocused, providing attendees with an opportunity to see the city afresh and think about how to make it even better.

How is the issue of Brexit being addressed at the conference?
We’ll be joined by leading Brexit economist and former economic adviser to Boris Johnson, Gerard Lyons, who will be debating the impact of leaving the EU on London with former US diplomat James Rubin, former British ambassador to the US Christopher Meyer, and BCO chief executive Richard Kauntze.

Which new technologies are altering – or will alter – the way offices are designed in the future?
At Make we’ve embraced virtual reality to help clients better understand their schemes and for us to design smarter. We can experience a space before it’s built and – in an age where floorplans are getting deeper to accommodate more people – make sure the balance between people and floor space isn’t tipping too far.

Make Broadgate

Make Broadgate

Axonometric cross-section of Make’s 5 Broadgate

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.

What mistakes in new office design do you most often see?
Assuming that one size fits all. It doesn’t. It’s great to see more landlords being creative and adaptable in the offices they build, whether speculative or bespoke.

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 presents 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.

Is the new wellbeing drive a fad?
As a principle, no. But I’m not sure how robust the grading is at the moment. It certainly needs to be able to work alongside other drivers, ensuring the building itself is sustainable as well as providing for the wellbeing of its occupants. The two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, but as it stands, some areas seem to preclude one or the other, which will need to be reassessed if it is to succeed.

What is your favourite office building, by another architect, of the last five years?
The new Bloomberg office by Foster + Partners will be one of the standout office buildings of this generation.

Foster + Partners' nearly completed Bloomberg building

Foster + Partners’ nearly completed Bloomberg building

Foster + Partners’ nearly completed Bloomberg building in central London

How is the BCO relevant in these times of uncertainty?
The BCO provides members with an opportunity to share best practice and new ways of thinking so we may continue to help the UK produce world-class office buildings – putting the UK commercial property market in a good position to address the evolving challenges.

Ken Shuttleworth is the conference chairman and incoming president of the British Council for Offices. The British Council for Offices Annual Conference will take place in London between the 9-11 May 2017.

Click here to see this year’s BCO conference programme

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • MacKenzie Architects

    I think the biggest challenge facing the construction industry in the next 20 years -for high density workplace design- is the crazy expansion of MEP.

    Electrical distribution and controls need a radical re-think; pushing warm and cool air everywhere in ducts is old-hat, centralised plantrooms need a review, even un-co-ordinated services supports is a complete waste of money. The number of ceiling voids I look at with forests of drop-rods, layers of unistrut, single-purpose cable-trays, last-minute loose cables (alarms and fire mostly) is just shocking. Plumbing about the only thing that hasn't gone completely over-blown in the past 25 years (maybe it has).

    The cost of MEP these days as a percentage of the building, is staggering.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    -actually plumbing, when you talk about the price of the porcelain, has gone through the roof.

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  • One of the things that interests me with office design is how the continued drive to squeeze workspaces with things like more and more hot desking might affect or be affected by things like design guidance. Currently most design guidance for buildings seems to be based on observation of what has worked well in typical buildings over a period of decades of similar levels of occupancy. Typically it seems design guidance frequently bases all its ratios and calculations on presumptions of typical levels of occupancy, but with more hot desking meaning different ratios of desk and floor space usage we potentially see more people per square metre at any given time, - more noise, more fresh air required, more cooling required, more use of water, more flushing of toilets, higher levels of telephone and I.T. network usage, more wear and tear in any given time period, -will that carpet last 10 years or is it now 7? do the door hinges and other ironmongery have to be repaired/serviced/replaced more often?

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  • chris Dyson

    The new Bloomberg office by Foster + Partners is indeed a fabulous addition to the cities canon of great architecture, complimenting No1 Poultry, the former Midland bank [now The Ned] by Edwin Lutyens, the Bank of England, the Mansion house and Hawksmoor's masterpiece St Mary Woolnoth, to name a few.

    The city and the corporation is also building some exemplary public spaces and places around these buildings inspiration for many other parts of London.

    New ways of working and living bring it on!

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