One British designer imagines future office space as symbiotic orchid farms.

Architect Richard Black thinks modern office space is boring and unnatural. He has a point: Did we really evolve over eons just to crouch like pale, flabby mole rats behind a monitor for nine hours each day?

So he's spiced it up a little, with this visualization of a London business tower as a hybrid greenhouse where getting a cup of java might mean passing through an "orchid library." The project, which Black completed for his architecture degree at Oxford Brookes University, takes aim at the financial center of Canary Wharf. The neighborhood is a dense thicket of gray buildings that today looks like this:

(In the background of this photo by Diliff is the "Isle of Dogs" because, yup, London has one of those.)

Booooooring, says Black. In his imagination, colorless office interiors shift and merge into green, parklike vistas. Furniture sits askew on little mounds of turf while bright flowers sprout from the ground.

A central pillar/sculpture serves as a trellis for climbing flora. Puffs of mist erupt from unseen sprayers, like you're in the produce aisle. One would imagine the office dress code would allow for ponchos.

Black explains his chlorophyll-rich vision so:

In the vastness of these office spaces the needs of the individual are largely overlooked and the repetitive, generic offices with their catalogue furniture offer little more than a place to work. The proposal is an attempt to open up these closed office cultures in which the basic needs of the individual have been forgotten. Floors are opened up and internal orchid gardens created.

The Symbiotic Office changes the way in which people use office spaces, creating internal relaxation zones where individuals can pause for thought, host meetings, eat their lunch or drink a cup of tea. In the digital age where the traditional place of work is a fluid concept, the project strives to highlight the importance of face-to-face interactions and to create an office space which not only boosts productivity, but one which the workers can enjoy.

Traveling to Black's website will yield many visual rewards for lovers of futuristic or green architecture. For now, here's the "pollination tower," meant to spread plantlife all through the vicinity:

And this is the "orchid library," because the building would be in the business of mass-producing the delicate flowers.

(H/t to Dezeen.)

About the Author

John Metcalfe
John Metcalfe

John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.

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