So how can office design cultivate social interaction and collaboration?
Wingårdhs sought to answer this question with the design of the headquarters of Swedish bank SEB, on the outskirts of Stockholm, in Arenastaden, Solna. Designed and completed the same year that Professor Kelly’s family went viral, its design (for which it was awarded the accolade of ‘Sweden’s most beautiful office’,) highlighted the shift towards a new type of workplace, which, post-pandemic, is likely to become even more important.
Accommodating over 4,500 employees, the office is made up of three buildings, and Wingårdhs were tasked with designing the interiors. As Sarah Helder, architect at Wingårdhs who co-led the project together with Helena Toresson, remarks,
“The kind of work that is accomplished in an office doesn’t only originate from working behind a screen and emailing. To be able to vary your environment for your work is incredibly important in all professions where creativity is part of the process.”
The building features four atriums, each with a specific function: the first encourages spontaneous meetings; the second, flexible gatherings; the third has the character of a living room – somewhere to go when you want to work in a relaxed environment; the fourth acts a flexible alternative to your own home office.
Whilst a physical office helps an employer create a harmonious space, focused on the wellbeing and productivity of its workforce, it’s also an opportunity to nurture and celebrate a company’s brand and ethos.
Helder refers to the layout and flow of the building as one that encourages “spontaneous meetings which enrich work, collaboration and friendships”, and that materials, patterns and colours have been chosen carefully to inject energy and identity to the work environment, reflecting SEB’s brand ethos and further enhancing collaboration.