Friday, 27 September 2013

Activity-based work spaces - the Commonwealth Bank

Yesterday a small group of colleagues and I had the opportunity to tour Commonwealth Bank Place in Darling Quarter as part of our research into the built environment, particularly with reference to the relationship between space and function. the opportunity arose through a parent at our school.

These buildings are on the leading edge in Australia of activity-based work. ABW recognises there is a spectrum of work styles, demands, functions and activities and that each day, people will have different activities to complete requiring varying levels of concentration or collaboration. Activity-based working delivers the working environment and tools for staff to choose different work styles to suit their work activities. 

Our question was: what can our school learn from this emerging field of thinking about workspaces?

There was lots to enjoy and appreciate about the tour. In no particular order of reflection:
  • Furniture can provide quiet nooks, privacy and isolation - you don't necessarily need walls!

  • Digital technologies are the great enabler of flexibility. If you don't need access to lots of paper files/records/documents, you don't need filing cabinets - nor do you need somewhere to dump your stuff! With mobile phones, you don't need a landline; with a laptop you don't need much else!
  • Atriums are great for visibility, light and generating a sense of connectedness

  • Even in a very big space, there can be a very human sense of connection created by being able to see lots of people getting on with doing their own thing - sitting, walking, talking, as individuals or groups. (Unfortunately, the people are absent from these architectural shots!) 

So what are the takeaway lessons for the school?

Not sure yet - other than that furniture is a key consideration in any construction of space!

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