Given the constant proliferation of new technologies, it’s hard to say with any certainty what the workplace of the future will look like. Undeterred, design professionals continue to do their best at speculating—often via competitions and workshops—and many of their radical creations often appear ripped from sci-fi storyboards.
In November, as part of a one-day workshop, 16 London-based students were tasked with illustrating their ideal future-oriented workplace. The event, called Workspace Invader, paired students with eight leading architects from several U.K. practices who helped them draft their concepts for the offices of tomorrow. The results were fantastic—holograms, virtual-reality rooms, and in-office vegetable plots all figured into their collective vision.
“It was amazing to see how diverse our ideas were and how optimistic we are about the future,” said 17-year-old Basma Elboussaki. He explains how the inclusion of sustainable features like solar panels and wind turbines demonstrates that members of Generation Z are also “concerned with nature and the environment.” “We are aware of how we should sustain our future,” he adds.
Split into groups, students were given free reign to let their imaginations run wild. Each of the group’s ideas were then incorporated into a final proposal, where the blurring of the work and personal lives of employees was evident in designs for hanging pods for staff to kick back, on-site health centers, and interactive desks that turn into beds.
The students kept to four major themes: health, the environment, technology, and innovation. Hanging pods were designed as break rooms for staff.
Workspace Invaders was organized by the non-profit Open-City, which advocates for quality architecture and public spaces in London, and Norwegian furniture brand HÅG. The day-long workshop is similar in style to Metropolis’s semi-annual Workplace of the Future competition where participants are asked to “rethink” the office environment. Last year, Organic Grid+ took top honors with their user-oriented space that allowed for customization based on employee needs.
Many of these proposals still involve a lot of guesswork. But, considering how future-themed shows like The Jetsons foreshadowed present-day technologies such as smart watches and video chatting some 40 years in advance, it will be interesting to see which aspects of these speculative workplaces will actually come into fruition.