The Virtual Architecture of the Future Workplace
August 28, 2007, 9:23 pm
Filed under: architecture, virtual architecture

There are a number of statements in this ABC piece on the future of the workplace that I think architects and designers should take note of. A workplace with no corporate headquarters? Not even the CEO has an office with his name on the door? Having a desk with pictures of loved ones is a thing of the past? Who needs an office?

So many of these ‘workplace of the future’ pieces seem to focus on the dispersion of the workforce. They refer to these employees as ‘remote’, and describe how companies are rearranging their physical spaces to better accommodate ‘abscence’, de-emphasizing the idea of a personalized workspace, and claiming that there is no longer any need for a headquarters. But is this really a good idea?

I think there will always be a distinct value in having the sense of a central headquarters where people gather, and I think the CEO should have a desk. There is definitely value in enabling individual employees to have a space they can customize with their own content – perhaps even pictures of loved ones if they so choose. Just because we no longer occupy the same physical space doesn’t mean we can’t occupy the same virtual space.

I think virtual workplaces actually offer the chance to place a new emphasis on re-establishing presence, and the idea that everyone can now be together occupying the same space, no matter where their bodies are located geographically. By perforating the perceived boundaries between virtual spaces and physical spaces, we can even stitch the two together seamlessly.

Where should architects fit into this new paradigm? Should architects be the ones designing these spaces, or is this responsibility better served by game designers, graphic designers and 3D modellers? Or, since anyone can build their own content in Second Life, perhaps the workers themselves can design their own spaces?

What if an architect is asked to design a new building where half of the employees occupy a virtual space and half of the employees will occupy the new physical space?  Can the architect help rethink and design the virtual architecture?  Or, should their role stop at the bricks and mortar?

1 Comment so far
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Id suggest some history from the Chait offices in LA in the 80s…..

to many, the “open playground” concept of the workplace was a failed experiment.

lessons to be relearned in the “new” metaverse vr office?… time will tell.


Comment by larryr

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