By 2025, your office might look a little like a high-tech greenhouse: When you look at the plants growing near your desk, your augmented reality contact lenses could tell you which of them you should harvest for lunch based on your current health. Nearby, your coworkers might be scaling a wall of vegetables, picking spinach to give to a chef, before returning to their standing desks.
That's the vision of Sean Cassidy and Joe Wilson, the winners of the Workplace of the Future 2.0 Design Competition sponsored by Metropolis Magazine and Business Interiors by Staples. "We wanted to create a place where nature and man had a symbiotic relationship, and a place which promoted healthy living," say the architects.
In their design, an urban farm plugs into the side of an office building, adding a wall of vegetables several stories high. On each floor, workstations are surrounded by more plants. Technology is a key part of the design—augmented contact lenses would give health tips throughout the day and teach office workers about the food growing around them.
"We wanted to really provoke new thoughts and debates on how to make the workplace a destination, and a place that can react to each individual and stimulate them in a positive manner," say Cassidy and Wilson. "The user is constantly updated by the augmented content around them, such as the news feeds and health information linked to the user's augmented contact lens which monitors their health and suggests food to eat."
The rest of the office—desks, walls, and meeting rooms—is also designed to use augmented reality. Instead of looking at a monitor, you'd use your augmented contact lenses to scroll through work on a wall or above your workstation.
Each element of the office is also portable, so employees can configure the space as they like. If you need a temporary meeting room, you can slide walls along the ceiling to create it. If you want to shift part of the space from an open layout to private offices, it's a simple switch to make.
"It has the potential to meet the needs of privacy, individualism and collaboration within a workplace, with all the design elements flexing to those needs," the architects explain. "The ability to completely customize your workspace, making any surface a workable one, makes the whole work experience a transformative one which can constantly adapt."
The modular design avoids the need to remodel if a new company moves into a space, and it's intended to fit easily into existing buildings. "We wanted to create something that worked with our existing urban fabric and the current architecture that surrounds us," say Cassidy and Wilson. "Land is a finite resource, and as it becomes more scarce, we feel it should become necessary to work with the existing to and break down this unsustainable cycle of build-demolition-build."
Though the design is just a concept, the architects hope that it helps inspire better office design, especially as people spend more time at the office and the lines between work and home become more blurred. "In essence it demonstrates that the workplace can actually be anything you want it to be," they say. "It becomes all about the employee, which is the most important part of any business."