The workplace environment is intrinsically
dynamic, yet architecturally it is treated as
something that is fixed. Functional layouts
specific to the thinking of the time (zeitgeist)
are built into the structure leaving little
opportunity for adaptation. Frank Lloyd
Wright’s Johnson Wax building is one such
example; built to function in the Taylorist
paradigm with little scope for alteration.
The contemporary workplace often lends
itself to the adaptive reuse of a range of
building typologies or the construction of
new structures with Green Star ratings.
At the same time, a significant amount of
office buildings, constructed prior to the
green building movement of the 1990’s, are
still in use, despite the typically hermetic
and unhealthy spaces they contain. The
possibility of adapting an office building from
pre-1990 building stock is investigated.
Previous workplace layouts inhibited
conversation (since interaction in the
workplace was frowned upon), but today
workplaces are designed with social
interaction as its core. The largely unused
potential of this aspect within corporate
culture and the influence it might have on
spatial organisations is investigated.
Interior architecture, as mediator between
office buildings’ accommodation and their
dynamic programs, forms the premise of
the study. The hypothesis that an interior
architectural intervention can make a positive
translation from an unhealthy to a healthy
building is tested by designing for the
interplay between the character of a space
and its design elements.
The design process is guided by the Open
Building methodology of fixed, semi-fixed
and loose-fit. The intervention translates this
methodology into a responsive and context
conscious proposal with an emphasis
on the users and their sense of place.
Finally, traditional architectural elements
are reinterpreted in terms of their ability to
enable or disable interaction between users
according to the theory of social friction.
Three types of interaction are considered:
official meetings, casual meetings and
chance encounters. Human interaction,
central to the creation of a workplace as
opposed to a work space, is a constant
theme throughout the study.
Dissertation MInt(Prof)--University of Pretoria, 2013