The offices of the future look to the sea
15 Sep 2021 /

The offices of the future look to the sea

Before you process even one more word, dear reader, we would like to alert you to something you may already be imagining: no, in the future, not all of us will work in splendid spaces overlooking the sea, like the ones you see here. But that doesn’t mean we’re being misleading when we say that the future is being conceived from such places. 

Among the many lessons we have learned from the pandemic, one is the urgent need to accelerate flexibility, cross-disciplinary working and digital transformation in business strategies. “This acceleration will have consequences and repercussions on the way new workspaces are conceived and designed, which is something that we architects are duty-bound to resolve”, Amparo Roig, architect at Valencia’s ERRE Arquitectura studio. 

In recent decades, offices have also had to adapt to the customs and to the times: from the rows of desks of the 1960s to Herman Miller’s cubicles in the 80s, to the ground-breaking spaces of serendipity created by Apple and the large democratic spaces of the major technology companies, inspired by the organic office of Frank Lloyd Wright, who was determined that workers should feel part of a large, happy and fulfilled family. 

The latest concept in the working ecosystem is characterised by open, multidisciplinary spaces, flexible, collaborative and innovative environments, conceived from the Design Thinking methodology which places workers and their needs at the centre of the process. Through Transformative Design, environments are created that help to improve their physical, cognitive and emotional state, and increase their motivation. The “office of the future” offers a combination of spaces that make it possible to carry out five essential activities: concentrate, learn, collaborate, socialise and rest.

Which is when an image slips into our minds: the offices of Silicon Valley. What many people don’t realise is that these offices are fitted out by companies from Valencia that are fostering a change in business culture through the enhancement of the well-being of the people who work there, by means of design. In indoor spaces, brands such as Actiu, Andreu World and Punt are benchmarks. And as far as outdoor spaces are concerned, firms like Vondom, Point or Gandia Blasco export designs that make these open-air zones pleasant, comfortable and relaxing, so essential when it comes to encouraging creativity and meetings between collaborators. 

The Mediterranean Silicon Valley 

On the shores of the Mediterranean, in the Valencia Marina, is becoming established, an entrepreneurial ecosystem based on the creative economy and knowledge. This is where our unprecedented “offices of the future” are rising up: former warehouses built to house the yachts that took part in the 32nd America’s Cup, now turned in to innovation centres that generate talent and opportunities and attract the most creative and entrepreneurial minds. Such is the case of Marina de Empresas, an initiative promoted by Juan Roig that houses the EDEM Escuela de Empresarios university and business school, the Lanzadera incubator and accelerator, and the Angels investment company, a space covering more than 18,000 m2 and home to almost 300 start-ups. In its facilities, collective spaces (a canteen, workshops, a library, an assembly hall, work areas) coexist with others that allow people to really concentrate on their work. 

Offices, come hell or high water 

The ERRE Arquitectura studio accepted the challenge of recycling the former bases of the BMW-Oracle, Shosholoza and +39 teams. To ensure that the skin of the building would withstand the salt, the sea and the wind, they copied the boats and used Fibreglass Resin, a material frequently used in the construction of vessels and buoys, but totally innovative in architecture. And, applying energy efficiency criteria, they protected it from excessive sunlight by means of different louvre panel systems, depending on the orientation. 

“The most important thing about our architecture is not the building itself, but rather what it really makes possible”, José Martí, an architect at ERRE Arquitectura tells us. And this is where David Hart comes in. David is co-founder of Saigu, a brand that sells natural and natural and organic make-up from its base in the Marina de Empresas. The space has been designed with entrepreneurs like him in mind, the users, “to increase knowledge and creativity, to turn work into passion, to create conditions that facilitate their path to success”, comments Amparo Roig.

David has his desk in an open office that can accommodate 256 people, a networking opportunity that he values highly: “Every day you’re in contact 

with similar or different companies that have had to face the same obstacles and can give you advice. This contact improves your ability to solve problems”. 

What is comfort at work, as far as I’m concerned? Well it means having different areas that allow you to be in an optimal state of mind to solve whatever it is you’re working on at any given moment. (David Hart)

Here the narrator is going to switch off and articulate the dialogue between the perfect duo (the architect and the user), who coincide on many issues. 

A. ROIG: “Our goal was to create an innovative and flexible ecosystem that makes it possible to adapt to the different situations and constant changes that characterise an entrepreneurial work environment. To design spaces that aerate and enhance communication, knowledge and thought”. 

DAVID: “What is comfort at work, as far as I’m concerned? Well it means having different areas that allow you to be in an optimal state of mind to solve whatever it is you’re working on at any given moment. For example, I need the silence of my desk when I’m working on Excel, but a chair facing the sea or a blackboard when I need to be creative. 

A. ROIG: “We needed to create large yet at the same time flexible spaces by means of transparencies, double heights and visual connections that manage to extend and, in a way, dilute the physical limits between the different areas”. 

DAVID: “This environment enhances creativity, thanks to both the design of the space and the spectacular sea views.” 

(Which brings us back to THE SEA) 

J. MARTÍ: “The project is intended to encourage Valencia and its citizens to open up to and connect with the sea. That’s why we introduced spaces where people can move around and interact with one another, with views of the entire dock, which acts as a viewpoint overlooking the Mediterranean, a real window facing the sea”. 

DAVID: “We’re surrounded by the Mediterranean. I’m from Menorca, but here there are times I can feel the same sense of disconnection that I have there, when I’m by the sea. But then again, I just have to turn around and I’m here in Valencia, a big city. What a marvellous combination! 

J. MARTÍ: “We design things in the hope that things like this can happen”. 

There’s little more to add to that.