John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This visionary office attaches to existing buildings to fill them with light, hope, and zucchini.
What's worse than chatty coworkers interrupting your flow? How about a dude harvesting zucchini from a vertical garden falling and crashing through your desk in a hollering heap?
OK, so that's looking on the dark side of Sean Cassidy and Joe Wilson's architectural dream, "Organic Grid+," the winner of Metropolis Magazine's recent competition to design the "Workplace of the Future." Installing green walls probably would soothe office workers with computer-monitor fatigue. And it might be a nifty in-house method of providing healthy lunch to the workforce (as long as said workforce doesn't mind the occasional caterpillar on the keyboard).
The visionary office, which Wilson and Cassidy have imagined for their hometown of London, would latch onto an existing building like a chlorophyll-filled leach, injecting it with light, hope, and vegetables. It would incorporate a host of supposedly freedom-granting features, such as walls that could be moved around at an employee's whim. (Or more likely, a boss's directive.) The goal is to "change the negative associations of working in open-plan offices," write its creators:
In addition to a flexible layout, the approach embraces "health-conscious plug-ins" (technology worn by the employees to monitor overall well-being and make healthy suggestions throughout the day) to aid in reducing sick days and increasing focus and productivity. In keeping with this mentality, sky gardens provide fresh food for employees to enjoy, as well as natural cooling and acoustic buffering throughout the building. The intrusion of green spaces into the structure itself also generates a more welcoming and overall pleasant atmosphere in which to work, ultimately boosting morale for those inside.
I'm not sold on increasing morale through what sounds like company-mandated accessories that chirp at you to drink more water and do leg stretches. But everything else looks nice, in a space station-greenhouse sort of way: