Designed to perform
Functional, Beautiful, Ecological.
How did we get here?
Our journey began (way before the pandemic) realising that many of the workspaces we all use were largely unsupportive for knowledge workers. Open plan traditional offices have scored terribly in office satisfaction surveys for years largely due to their inability to support activity-based working – the notion that employees need to be supported spatially, technologically and culturally based on the activities they do in their day-to-day work.
We set ourselves the goal to design a durable workspace platform that is productive, healthy, beautiful and inspires.
Moving beyond the needs of the knowledge worker
Realising that the need for healthy, productive and inspiring spaces doesn't just stop with knowledge workers, we welcomed the notion of the Studio to become a healthy building platform that can be used for all sorts of applications including small dwellings.
Leveraging the EASI Rituals framework of 'Energise, Author, Share, Interact' ® gave us a blueprint of how a Studio space can support the user across a range of activities from work, to play and living.
Creating a well building platform
6 Well-being Essentials
Essential conditions for our performance and health
Control of sound both in terms of privacy and quality through insulation, absorption and deflection.
Regulation of the right temperature for maximum comfort all year round.
Air quality including humidity, freshness, purity and scent is vital to our health and performance
Promoting an ergonomic environment and encouraging physical movement wherever prossible.
Appropriate exposure to the right lighting conditions depending on the type of activities, time of day, and our body clock.
Use of the right materials that cause no harm to us or the planet and supports the other essentials
Sound or ‘Acoustics’ play a fundamental part in providing a suitable auditory space that is private and has a well-balanced internal sound quality.
Looking through the EASI rituals lens:
“Energising” requires the pleasant sounds of nature and music.
“Authoring” requires inspiration and focus so the need for noise abatement and sounds of nature is extremely important.
“Sharing” requires great speech intelligibility for arresting communication impact.
“Interacting” requires the ability to be heard and clearly hear what others are saying.
Noise levels are in fact the number one source of irritation in both poorly designed offices and ill-equipped home offices. Leesman, who are leaders in surveying offices and resulting employee satisfaction, in their most recent review found that there was only a 33% satisfaction rate of noise abatement in offices. The desperate need for quiet spaces was equally worrying with an employee satisfaction rate of only 33%.
Creating a quality sound environment has been the biggest contributor to the resultant unique design of the Studio. Adding organic rounded corners and avoiding too many parallel walls avoids acoustic pitfalls that amplify unwanted noise. Interior material choices and the mass of the structure equally ensure interior sound is absorbed and outdoor noise is restricted.
Beyond providing us with crucial oxygen, air has many aspects that are important in any space let alone a workspace where most of us will spend plenty of time.
In fact, people spend approximately 90% of their time in enclosed spaces including work environments. During this time, any exposure to poor air quality can lead to a variety of negative short and long-term health issues.
These can be avoided by controlling the following 5 sub-categories:
Humidity - This relates to how much water is in the air and is measured in percentage terms using a hygrometer. It is advised to ensure the right level of humidity in the winter and to dehumidify in the summer. Low humidity levels for example can cause dry skin and itchy eyes.
Ventilation - This covers the importance of bringing in fresh conditioned air into the room from outside.
Purification - Purifying air is crucial to remove harmful fungal and pollen allergens.
Flow - Avoid stale air and introduce a delicate flow of air that is more organic and natural by not repeating in a looped pattern e.g. a fan turning from left to right has an unnatural rhythm.
Odour & Scent - Deodorising the air removes any nasty smells such as from tobacco or pets. It is also important to introduce pleasant scents to lift our moods and connect with nature - e.g. the soothing scent of lavender promotes relaxation and is believed to reduce anxiety.
The Studio features a hospital grade HVAC system that is able to regulate humidity, purify, and crucially bring in fresh filtered air from outside. We have also partnered with Prolitec and their Aera products that eliminate odours and introduce the right scents based on your activities.
Just as the quality of the air is important for alertness and overall health, the quality of light brings about a much more complex set of systems that is not just linked to our vision.
Humans and animals have something that is called the circadian rhythm, which is our own 24-hour internal clock that synchronises physiological functions such as hormone levels and the sleep-wake cycle. This clock is synched up with natural daylight and is what makes us want to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Any disruption to this rhythm is linked to a variety of disorders such as obesity, diabetes and even depression.
A healthy light system doesn’t just focus on natural daylight. Humans incorrectly exposed to artificial lights too will bring about dire consequences. Human Centric Lighting, or HCL for short, is a lighting strategy that introduces the circadian rhythm to lighting so that the temperature and brightness of artificial light adapts from bright in the morning to warmer and dimmer at night.
Along with light temperature and brightness, artificial lights also need to perform well by ensuring there is sufficient illumination for the activity at hand and that they can operate without flicker to eliminate any visual discomfort.
The lighting experience in the Studio starts with bringing in natural light from a variety of different angles including a skylight whilst sunscreens and blinds regulate light intensity. Optional features like our large luminous ceiling pendants provide diffuse lighting to minimise harsh shadows during video calls. All interior lighting is able to follow optimum HCL curves.
Temperature is a highly subjective subject matter and thermal comfort that is optimised for one person isn’t always as enjoyable for the other.
It is also commonly known that due to physiological differences, men and women prefer different temperatures and usually can’t seem to agree on what temperature to set the thermostat at in a communal space. The keyword however here is ‘comfort’ and this comfort is what leads to people enjoying the space and being productive within it. Any movement away from the desired comfort state quickly manifests symptoms associated with ‘sick building syndrome’. Looking at the most recent Leesman studies it highlights that on average the employee satisfaction rate for temperature control in offices is only 33%!
Not only is temperature important for human well-being, we also need to keep in mind thermal control in terms of maximising the energy efficiency of the building itself.
The Studio regulates temperature not only through heating and cooling via the sensors and HVAC system but is also supported by high performing insulating materials, solar control glass, sunscreens & blinds, and a sedum (green) roof.
Movement is a vital part of the human condition. And although we are not all equally as fortunate to be able to move as freely or as willingly as we like, movement remains a key aspect of our health and therefore needs to be promoted wherever possible.
Worryingly, despite the well understood benefits of regular exercise, global estimates from 2016 show that 23% of the adult population are physically inactive. This lack of care for our bodies by some cost the global healthcare systems an astronomical $54B in 2013. What is even more worrying is the amount of time that is spent by adults every day performing low-effort activities such as sitting - otherwise known as sedentary behaviour. A study published in 2011 reported that on average adults sit between 3-9 hours and that this behaviour is strongly linked to obesity, diabetes, and premature mortality.
As knowledge workers most of us are unfortunately ‘desk-bound’ which strengthens the case to ensure workers have the right ergonomic furniture that at least reduce any chances for bad posture over extended periods of time. Tools and habits such as using standing desks, treadmills under desks, and going for ‘weetings’ (having a meeting whilst walking in nature) make a huge positive impact to our health and well-being.
Movement is also found organically in nature through the wind blowing in the trees, clouds changing shape and moving on by, the sun’s rotation and the shadows it casts, or even rain drops moving down a pane of glass. The world constantly moves and capturing or focusing in on that movement and exploiting it within a workspace is of equal importance.
Promoting movement has been a key factor in the design of the Studio. The covered terrace invites users to make the most of being out in nature whilst the interior space invites the user to transition between activity zones. The playfulness nature of the design also captures natural movement.
A space or building is composed of a range of natural and manmade materials and throughout its life will be subjected to additional materials being used for longevity.
It was important to us that any materials used therefore need to conform to the following cardinal rules:
Not be detrimental and hazardous to our health.
Not be detrimental and hazardous to the planet (including animals and plants).
Always be fully transparent in what they are, how they are sourced, and how they can be recycled.
Represent nature either directly (e.g. wood and moss) or artificially (e.g sand pattern on carpet tiles) wherever possible.
No compromises have been made in the high quality, ecological and responsibly sourced materials that collectively make up the Studio. From the beautiful solid timber core structure to the wood wool insulation and cork flooring, they all play an equal part in providing a building that makes the most of nature and how it promotes human well-being.