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What Architects Work From When They’re Designing the Best Offices

Article July 10, 2018  |  Text by Markéta Miková Text by Markéta Miková

Designing an office so that several generations of employees can work well there is quite a challenge. It has to accommodate modern technical requirements while also creating a pleasant environment for employees to work together. What guides architects and interior designers in their work? This was one topic at the E15 Premium Real Estate and Interiors event in June.

As a child, I loved my grandma’s office. I spent nearly every New Year’s there when my grandma — the director of a small manufacturing plant — was performing the new-years inventory and closing out the year. The office was small, but cozy. We counted small plastic products in dozens of boxes by the stove, within which a fire was crackling merrily.

I have to say that we we worked unbelievably well together. I counted out loud, and grandma typed the needed data into pre-printed forms on her typewriter. And just don’t ask what happened when one or both of us got mixed up!

Today’s offices are different, of course, but in some ways they do come close to my memories. Above all in the effort to create a friendly, informal environment where it’s a pleasure to work. After an era of depersonalizing open spaces, employees and their needs are coming back to the fore.

The work of today’s interior designers is demanding in how it has to take into account the needs of the given new space’s users, reflect within it the company culture, and ideally use it to push the company forward. And indeed that’s what was heard at late June’s Real Estate and Interiors event.

“The Holy Quaternity”

Today, offices are evolving into work environments whose space is divided into individual zones where work is done, information is shared, results/products are presented, and people eat and relax. “Today’s offices also cover a number of ‘non-office’ needs. When we’re designing a new corporate office, we always have an eye to how the company works and how its employees’ social interactions take place. We evoke discussions with the client, we work from these, we design the whole space, and we always want to develop it further,” states Roman Vrtiška from the architectural studio VRTIŠKA-ŽÁK, which stands behind renowned interiors for such firms as KKCG, Avast, and U1.  

Eduard Trembulak from IBA Architects describes his approach: “From my point of view, four aspects are fundamental for a modern working environment: functional usage, acoustic comfort, sufficient light, and the comfort of the given space. We’re interested in learning what a company is involved in and what its employees are like, so that we can prepare a space for them where they will work well. While I personally am an extrovert, I hold the opinion that at the workplace, what is of key importance is the peace for work itself. We allocate work activities within a given space so that employees have a maximum of acoustic comfort and a minimum of disturbances, but also so that nothing prevents them from communicating and working together. We base our whole concept upon that.”

This is the philosophy that IBA Architects applied when preparing, for example, the offices for the software firm SCS Software (photo below), highly regarded by both its employees and the jury for the Meeting Room of the Year competition.

The Human and the Technological

In a modern work environment, we encounter an ever growing number of innovative technologies and simultaneously an effort to support ordinary human solidarity, sharing, and friendly cooperation.

“We try to adapt to both of these trends, and we develop personalized mobile applications (photo below) for our buildings that enable employees to reserve things like parking, their working spot for the given day, lunch, or laundering and ironing for their clothes. At the same time, we make room for a number of informal and relaxation spaces in our buildings, whether these be on the roof, in the atrium, or in an adjacent garden. Come and see for yourself at our projects that are already standing, such as Corso Court and Visionary, or in future years at Praga Studios, Parkview, or Port7,” offers Skanska Property Czech Republic’s director Alexandra Tomášková.

Corso Court was the firt office building in Prague equipped with a dedicated mobile app developed by Sharry Europe.

GALLERY: Take a look at June’s Real Estate and Interiors event