Technology as Culture

Design for work in a virtual world means that the rules of workplace design are changing and the workplace will be a new type of ecosystem. Digitised buildings and inanimate objects that are connected and communicating with each other in real-time are already part of our present day, and will be even more so in our future. There are several different paths to follow in order to see how design is progressing – ways of making the already smart workplace, smarter.

The idea of technology being embedded in every object allowing these objects to communicate through the web – known as The Internet of Things – has been implemented into design ideas and development for quite some time now. The number of so-called Machine-to-Machine devices using the world’s wireless networks has reached the level of billions, with some predicting that by 2020 the number of Internet-connected things will reach or even exceed 50 billion. This development is now being joined by the view of technology being divorced from objects other than interaction surfaces, which can be seen as an extrapolation of The Internet of Things. This creates two design ways forward, and opportunities arise from both.

However, both ways of creating ‘Techiture’ are means to the same end – living a high-tech lifestyle in a visibly low-tech environment. This Techiture makes the office smarter by mainly making technology invisible and working in a more flexible way through simple things such as less cables and sockets as well as more advanced devices such as screens used as a blank canvas on your wall, ready to receive your ideas and store them in the cloud.

On a grander scale, embracing Techiture is about rethinking the way we work from a macroperspective. Much of the workplace architecture of the past is based on working patterns that are decreasingly relevant. As mentioned above, digitised buildings offer a key to unlocking new patterns about people, how they work and how they use space.

For instance, the design thought of an office space may be to create a place for collaboration between many people, but in real life, people use this space to shut themselves in to concentrate one person at a time, thus ’hacking’ the space. With real-time information in digitised buildings, this hacked space can be discovered and be learned from for future architecture design. Today’s architects have great opportunities to redefine what a workplace means in the built environment, especially if future builds are based on an authentic understanding of how people go about their days work and life.

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"The buildings will be aware of who’s in them and what’s happening inside, and will go from being ‘dumb containers’ to becoming a real-time asset."

- Philip Ross, CEO, Ungroup – UnWork
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