Frost on…. Extensions

Extending your existing home by linking to an outbuilding is an increasingly popular and cost effective way of expanding your living space by making use of a garage or storage space that is no longer used the way it was intended. The way we live and use our homes is changing all the time. We value high quality living spaces for working, relaxing and entertaining over a place to keep the car dry! Similarly, a nicely converted garage to provide a stunning sun room or play room may not get the use it deserves if you need to walk out in the rain to use it on a winter’s day.

This is where the simple extension link is a great opportunity to do something a bit playful and different. By joining spaces together they can become much more useable and can really add space that is both valuable and enjoyable.

A glazed link is often a great idea. Not only does it bring light into a space that might otherwise be dark and enclosed, it also allows the two elements to be read separately, providing a sense of the site’s historic narrative. Inside the link, the external walls of the building become internal walls, which can work out quite nicely – our Hare Lane project used the exposed brickwork to add character to the new space. By creating a distinction between the traditional and contemporary you can clarify what’s new, what’s been retained, and explore the relationship between the two.

If the outbuilding is in close proximity to the house, whether and how you link them depends on how you live and intend to use the space in the future. Flexibility of use is important, it may start as a study or playroom for the kids, but over time become a media room, home office, or artist’s studio. The possibilities are endless and it’s important to retain versatility while ensuring the design and function reflects the short term requirements of the space.

It is of course important to consider planning and building control requirements when undertaking any building work. Whether or not planning permission is required is project specific and dependent on a variety of factors, such as proximity to boundaries, neighbouring buildings and if the building is listed or protected. We recommend seeking advice from the local authority before proceeding with any plans.

With a little knowledge and creativity, there are many ways to give those under used spaces in your home a new purpose.

 

Frost on…. Wellbeing

Office environments are continually evolving as we adjust and adapt to meet the demands and opportunities that technology offers. But are we meeting the needs of the modern-day worker? The ability to be ‘on-line’ and available 24/7 puts a strain on the mental and physical health of us all. Working environments, therefore, need to respond to meet this changing dynamic. The mental environment is as important as the physical environment and wellbeing is now high up on the workplace agenda.

So what makes for a place of wellbeing? Designers are well practiced in putting the pieces of the physical jigsaw together to create high quality spaces. We are masters at using light, colour, ergonomics and materials to create spaces people want to be in. But we need to look beyond these physical and sensory experiences. We need to consider working practices. Admittedly this requires a receptive client and is perhaps beyond our normal remit, but the commercial realities of offices are changing. Technology has given people more options than we thought possible. Employers are having to alter contractual terms to meet the demands of the employee, who now leads the charge when it comes to how we work.

What can we do as designers? We now need to be experts in knowing the market (location, technology, style), knowing the demands of the workforce, ultimately knowing our clients better than they know themselves.

Every day the market makes strides in evolving trends and our industry follows. Can we predict and anticipate the next trend?

Co-working is the hot trend at the moment. This relatively small part of the sector has given fresh impetus to the changing workplace. Subscription membership, hot desks, dedicated desks, team rooms – all variations on how we structure space. These spaces are popular not only for sole traders and start-ups, but give the range of environments everyone likes to work in – informal work areas, quiet work areas, presentation spaces, meeting rooms, break out, cafe. This mix of spaces allows the chance to ‘switch off’, unwind and have a change of pace. These spaces and the means to do so need to be part of the workplace offer. We must look beyond our surroundings and embrace aspects such as nutrition, exercise and fun, if we are to keep pace with the demands of today’s workforce.

Only then can we hope to have well-beings.

By Daniel Frost RIBA

Crown Estate – Future Offices

In 2017 the Crown Estate commissioned a competition for Architects to design the office of the future, utilising their building portfolio.

Our proposal for the competition was for a Distributed Office environment that allows businesses to retain a fixed, leased office space while offering shared resources, spaces and facilities available on-demand. With greater physical flexibility, fixed office spaces can be smaller than required in a traditional office setup. Businesses subscribed to the proposed co-working membership scheme will be able to offer their employees access to a large network of office spaces across the city. With greater flexibility workers will be able to work more locally and maintain a desired level of wellbeing.

Within each office hub, businesses will be offered a workBOX; a fixed unit to provide private space to complement the preferred operational model of each business. Each workBOX varies in size and provides traditional office space in one location or a network of private office spaces across the city, or simply a fixed storage space for businesses to spill out into larger shared working areas. The membership structure will provide co-working spaces, allowing start-ups to work alongside larger, more established companies and creating the possibility for networking and collaboration.

The growth of the Knowledge Economy and developments in technology are expected to be major factors in the next shift in office working practices and design. Our workBOX proposal provides a platform for the evolution of the workplace.

By Abre Etteh RIBA