The modern workplace has evolved from a dehumanized cubicle landscape to space designed for intelligent human life. While utility and amenity are vastly improved, what advances have been made in building truly creative communities that spark creativity, knowledge sharing and collaboration? Is the 21st century office performing at peak? Clive Wilkinson - The Theatre of Work proposes an intensified relationship between office users and the space they occupy. The new workspace should amplify and celebrate the activity of work and of human community, and in the process, becoming vital and compelling Theatre. In defining this new landscape, the author examines global developments in workplace thinking, historical antecedents, the performance touch-points for the new office, and proposes seven humanistic principles that will inform a holistic design process that can bring this concept of Theatre to fruition. Each of these principles is demonstrated through case studies of the work of his renowned design studio, Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWA), with rich iconography, diagrammatic strategy and contextual ingenuity. The outcome of this process, with its multiple performative layers, effectively promotes elevating a corporate brief of basic needs and goals to a profoundly human-centred presentation of ‘work as theatre’.
Setting the Stage As designers, we cannot write the play, or the story, to take place. Every community will produce their own unique stories. But we can set the stage. By listening to the community, by choreographing the use, by leveraging urban ideas, by responding to archetypes of community and human settlement, we can create the conditions within which great drama happens. Every complex community is necessarily layered with multiple requirements. In a search for simplicity and clarity, good design should address universal concepts of human habitation. By this we mean, those concepts that work as ‘archetypes’ of community forming: the essential constituents of the community organism without which the community will struggle to sustain itself. Some of these may appear capricious or whimsical: like the idea of Serious Play. However, in a world where creative thinking is essential to survival, serious play is the gym workout for maintaining creative health. How these ideas may be folded into the triad of a community vision, a strategic brief and a design process is illustrated through the examples of the project Case Studies, which are extracted from the project portfolio of our studio, Clive Wilkinson Architects. Clearly, no project is ever focused on a singular thing, so these examples inevitably overlap with the other concerns. The following concepts that play a major role in shaping successful and sustainable communities: 1. The City as Shared Memory The search for common language to structure community space. Case study: TBWA/Chiat/Day and SMC Center for Media and Design 2. The Culture Model How culture shapes both brand and the total environment. Case study: Disney Store Headquarters and FCB 3. Disruption and Serious Play Knowledge work is stimulated in an environment of controlled discord. The representation of diverse and contradictory messages provokes thought. Case study: Pallotta TeamWorks Headquarters and Mother London 4. Choice and Diversity Work happens in many different ways. The Workplace must support that. Case study: Macquarie, Shelley St, Sydney and Publicis New York 5. Flow, Fluidity and Transparency Speed of connection, frequency of interaction, speed to market – all are dependent on flow and transparency. Case study: Macquarie EMEA, London and Microsoft Canada 6. The Learning Organization In a rapidly changing world, continuous learning is essential to survival. Case study: GLG New York and Google Headquarters, Silicon Valley 7. Human Scale & Community Scale The optimum group and neighbourhood size is a factor in communication and engagement. Case study: Intuit, Silicon Valley and Barbarian Group