The Office - London's Workplace

Tuesday 29 August 2006

The Office – London’s Workplace. An exhibition at NLA on London at work. 6 September – 28 October 2006

The Office, a major new public exhibition taking place at New London Architecture (NLA) from 6 September to 28 October 2006 in association with The British Council for Offices, uncovers the issues behind the design of London’s workplaces. Asking the nation’s work-force to have their say on what their really think of the office they spend nine to five in, it will reveal the latest ideas in office organisation and investigate the economic imperative and human impact of good design.

Does the well-designed workplace make us more efficient? Are companies in smart new offices more profitable? Does working in an architectural showpiece make work any more easy or enjoyable? Are developers taking the changing nature of work into account when they design new office buildings? These are some of the questions that will be investigated in The Office.

With technology rapidly changing how and why we use our workplaces, how should we design for the office of the present, let alone the future? When the hard drive in your pocket carries more information than the average PC of just five years ago; when wi fi makes access to instant global information ubiquitous; when Blackberries keep you in touch with work while you’re sunbathing on the beach and you carry out video conferencing with a couple of laptops – why do the majority of people still travel into their office everyday? The exhibition will question what offices are really for and why we still need to meet our workmates face to face.

The exhibition will focus on the design and planning of a selection of new offices in London – ranging from Swiss Re’s ‘Gherkin’ to Shoreditch-based ad agency Mother – and examine these issues through video interviews with office and interior designers, workers and theorists. It will examine the impact of the revolution in communications technology on the evolution of the office into a place of social and interactive engagement and evaluate how good design can improve business performance. 

It is estimated that about 30% of the world’s top companies have adopted a mobile work style model, with 35% having a workforce operating outside the boundaries of the office. How have different jobs, new technology, increasing competition and business efficiency impacted on the way we work? And why do companies locate where they do, be it The City, Canary Wharf, Clerkenwell or Croydon? The Office will seek to explain the importance of location in relation to the interconnecting industries and business networks of successful cities. 

Video interviews with the people working in some of London’s newest, architect-designed offices will reveal their personal experiences of the impact of design in the workplace, while visitors to The Office will be able record their views on their place of work in the exhibition’s video vox pop booth. London’s economy relies on the city’s workforce as its biggest asset, making the retention of happy employees in efficient workplaces ever more crucial. The Office will give Londoners and its visitors the chance to have their say on what they really think about the places in which they work.

A series of free talks taking place on Wednesday mornings throughout September and October accompanies the exhibition.

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