GLOBAL

The Collaborative Office

We speak to Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor about the shifting role of workspaces.

Revisiting Wingårdhs award-winning design for the SEB bank’s headquarter in Stockholm, we talk to Helena Toresson and Sara Helder about natural materials and the social potential of workspaces, and explore how the pandemic is accelerating the shifting role of the office.

SEB ENTRANCE

In March 2017, the American political analyst, Professor Robert Kelly, along with his wife and two young children, became a global internet sensation, when, during a live-streamed interview between Kelly and the BBC, the children burst into their father’s office. A moment later Kelly’s wife skidded into the room to retrieve the youngsters, scurrying them out the door and locking it behind her.

Three years later, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Offices around the world closed their doors, and work began at the kitchen table, on a laptop, in tracksuit bottoms. Since then, some of us have found ourselves starring in a Professor Kelly-esque scene, with work-call cameos from partners, flatmates, children and pets. Others have experienced extreme isolation. The pandemic orchestrated a mass experiment on the impact of working environments – not just in terms of our productivity, but perhaps more crucially, our wellbeing.

Longing for office life


Wingårdhs arkitektkontor in Sweden, suggests that it is indeed faces – and movement – that we miss the most about office life.

“In the office, physical movement is just as natural as being sedentary. It is the people and the activity – and indeed the agility – that is missed. To be able to meet without technical impediments, to easily and quickly discuss something with your co-workers; the conversations by the coffee machine, the greeting halfway up the stairs, the buzz between meetings.”

She also points out that the physicality of a workplace brings with it a feeling of context. “When a group of people reside in the same place, it will give an individual the notion of belonging to a bigger picture. In the best circumstances, it can also make employees feel proud, and is a tool for the employer to express that they care about their workforce.”

Productivity was a key concern as the work from home movement was enforced. However, according to a recent report from Cardiff University and the University of Southampton, 69.8% of homeworkers reported that they were able to get as much work done, if not more (28.9%,) from home as they had from the office. These statistics encourage us to reevaluate what the role of a workspace will be post-COVID, now it’s apparent that, for 70% of us, the office isn’t actually integral to getting work done.

Auditorium cladded with wood panelling in birch
Bank entrance interior with wood paneling in solid wood slats
Office interior with solid wood slats

Office design for collaboration

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.

ASH INTERIOR

Natural material choices

The project features wood throughout, tapping into Biophilic Design, anchored in human’s innate connection to nature. Studies have proved that being in the presence of natural materials has physiological and psychological benefits, including reducing stress and increasing positive social interactions, something that will become even more important for the ‘experience-based’ office of the future. Gustafs supplied ribs, acoustic panels and custom-made solutions for a range of spaces; from boardrooms and auditoriums, to the entrance hall and atrium in one of the buildings.

Helena Toresson comments,

“Wood is a fantastic material. It’s sustainable over time, ages well, and it’s colours create a warm atmosphere. With the wood panels used in the project, important functions such as acoustics and fire safety have been embedded into the cladding; covering issues that have to be addressed in all public buildings.”

The shifting role of the office


As we look back to 2017, and the then newly designed SEB office, it is clear that the primary role of the workspace was shifting already, towards flexible, agile and collaborative working.

Looking now to the future, we are likely to see more offices catering for the social needs of a hybrid workforce; where spaces for presentations and in-person brainstorms will sit side by side with high-tech booths, optimised for glitch-free virtual meetings. With collaboration and experiences at their heart, perhaps offices like SEB’s head office, will be best placed to thrive in the legacy of the pandemic.

References:

Felstead, A and Reuschke, D (2020) ‘Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown’, WISERD Report, Cardiff: Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research. Available for download from: https://wiserd.ac.uk/publications/homeworking-uk- and-during-2020-lockdown

Lowe, G (2020) ‘Wood, Well-being and Performance: The Human and Organization Benefits of Wood Buildings’ British Columbia, Canada: Forestry Innovation Investment. Available for download from: https://www.naturallywood.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/wood-well-being-and-performance_report_graham-lowe.pdf

Photos: Andre Pihl & Devis Bionaz

Sign-up for future Stories
SIGN-UP
More reading
MORE OFFICE INTERIORS
STORIES

Our latest news and views English

Underpinned by our Scandinavian design heritage, we bring you regular stories about architecture and interiors, exploring natural materials, acoustics, and the creation of safe and harmonious environments.

December-22 Design, Interview, Sustainability,
Villazero: A carbon neutral home

Mondo Arkitekter build Sweden’s first carbon neutral house.

November-22 Design, Interview,
Karen Haller on colour in interiors

Colour expert Karen Haller tells us how behavioural colour and design psychology can create harmonious interiors.

October-22 Acoustics, Product news, Sustainability,
Introducing Feltfon Linear

Gustafs introduces Feltfon Linear, a customisable linear felt solution which gives a soft, warmth to walls and ceilings.

May-22 Design, Interview, Sustainability,
Designing for longevity

Thomas Sandell on design with an enduring appeal.

May-22 Design, Project news,
Our guide to the top five interiors in ash

From courtrooms to concert halls. We list five favourite projects that use ash.

May-22 Design,
Geometric patterns in interiors

Shaping design from ancient times until today

May-22 Design,
Gustafs’ guide to wood species

The patterns and colours of our most popular veneers.

March-22 Interview, Project news, Wellbeing,
Biophilic School Design

How natural influences can improve learning environments

March-22 Interview, Wellbeing,
Andrew Waugh on building with wood

Architect Andrew Waugh talks about his appreciation of timber

March-22 Interview, Sustainability,
White Arkitekter’s Anna Graaf on material circularity

Anna Graaf’s three thoughts on circularity.

March-22 Sustainability, Wellbeing,
Benefits of biophilic design

Exploring biophilia in architecture and design.

February-22 Sustainability,
Modern manufacturing, the Scandinavian way

Sweden’s sustainable approach to building materials.

February-22 Design, Interview,
3XN’s centre for climate research and collaboration

Jan Ammundsen talks through Denmark’s gamechanging Klimatorium scheme

January-22 Acoustics,
An introduction to office acoustics

An overview of how material choices affect sound absorption in a workplace environment.

January-22 Design, Interview,
Less waste, more natural materials

Ola Jonsson C.F. Møller’s sustainable approach to materials

December-21 Acoustics, Design, Wellbeing,
An introduction to neurodiversity in design

We explore how workplace design can be adapted for people with neurodiverse conditions.

December-21 Acoustics, Design, Interview,
The design of accessible workplaces

A conversation with Daniel Rönnqvist, Architect and Accessibility Consultant at Gatun Arkitekter, about human-centered architecture and workplace design.

November-21 Design, Interview,
Three thoughts on building materials, with Jan Ammundsen

3XN’s Design Director explains the studio’s approach to material selection.

November-21 Design, Interview,
The importance of silent study spaces

Architect Colin Moses reflects on his key learnings from the University of Bedfordshire library project.

November-21 Design, Wellbeing,
Designing for mental wellbeing

Exploring how architects can create happy cities by designing for mental wellbeing.

November-21 Fire, Interview,
Wooden Ribs: New research in fire safety

Fire engineer Håvard Strøm Halvorsen examines interiors with wooden ribs.

October-21 Design, Interview,
Three reasons why I love wood

Property developer Folkhem’s Anna Ervast Öberg talks about her favourite material.

October-21 Acoustics, Interview,
Flexible learning environments

An interview with Graven’s Ross Hunter on designing multi-use education spaces.

October-21 Fire,
Three key points to know about fire safe wooden panels

The benefits of avoiding fire retardants, and other important points.

September-21 Acoustics, Wellbeing,
Does architecture affect blood pressure?

Workplaces designed with acoustics in mind can avoid noise and stress.

September-21 Acoustics, Design, Fire, Interview,
Associated Architects on University libraries

Joe Belcher lists his key learnings from The Davison Library, University of London.

August-21 Acoustics, Design, Interview,
Malmö Live, a community house on an international scale

We chat to Kristian Ahlmark of Schmidt Hammer Lassen about how this “city within a city” was designed for the local community.

August-21 Acoustics, Design,
The top 3 trends in Swedish school design

We examine how architects focus on daylight, acoustics and materials in educational facilities.

August-21 Acoustics,
Helping architects design spaces with great acoustics

Experiencing how buildings sound at the design stage: we look at a new research project of sound simulation software.

July-21 Acoustics, Design, Interview,
Spira Culture Centre

Gert Wingårdh talks ten years of the Spira Culture Centre.

June-21 Design, Wellbeing,
Harmony in the home

Wood and other natural materials boost wellbeing and harmony in the home.

June-21 Design, Interview,
Scandinavian design essence by Tengbom

Take a trip around Arlanda VIP Services as Mark Humphreys of Tengbom Arkiteker explains how it epitomises Scandinavian style.

June-21 Interview, Wellbeing,
A deeper dive into forest bathing

Jenny Lovebo of Linnaeus University answers three questions on the wellbeing effects of forests.

May-21 Wellbeing,
A wealth of wood at Hejmdal Cancer Patients House in Aarhus

The wooden interior of Hejmdal Cancer Patients House.

April-21 Design,
Line up for linear interiors

Exploring the trend for vertical wood panelling.

March-21 Acoustics, Interview,
The new campus of Stockholm’s Royal College of Music

Architect Annika Askerblom of AIX explains how interior design and acoustic excellence were combined to create stunning performances spaces.

February-21 Acoustics, Wellbeing,
Optimising room acoustics to improve wellbeing

We explore how reducing noise and creating harmonious sound environments can improve wellbeing.

February-21 Sustainability, Wellbeing,
Forest bathing

Why forest bathing is here to save your social life: exploring how woodland walks have become the new way of socialising.

February-21 Acoustics,
Sound in digital meetings

Want to get the best out of your digital and hybrid meetings? Get your acoustics right.

February-21 Acoustics, Interview,
The design of music

The legendary Swedish acoustician Jan-Inge Gustafsson joins us for a conversation about concert halls, collaborating with architects, and the creative process.

January-21 Fire, Interview,
Fire Safety in Wooden Interiors

We ask fire consultant Anders Bach Vestergaard of COWI consulting to answer three questions about the creation of safe, beautiful and design-led wooden interiors.

November-20 Wellbeing,
Sloyd – The Next Scandinavian Export?

In this article we explore the Scandinavian culture of educational sloyd, and its potential to inspire future generations of wood-centric designers.

June-21 Gustafs' history, Interview,
Renovating the Riksdag

The interior details that transformed the Chamber in the Swedish parliament.

March-21 Articles, Gustafs' history,
The Origins of Gustafs

The story of our heritage: from a forest in rural Sweden, based on traditions of carpentry and craftsmanship, to world-leading wood panel systems.

November-20 Articles, Gustafs' history,
A Colourful Collaboration

Recalling the challenges and joys of making a spectacular acoustic solution happen – from design to installation.

November-20 Articles, Gustafs' history,
Innovative Solutions in Doha

Recalling the challenges and joys of making a spectacular acoustic solution happen – from design to installation.

November-20 Articles, Wellbeing,
Fighting Stress With Wooden Interiors

Wood is nature’s original stress-reliever, and studies have proven that its use in the built environment can greatly improve our wellbeing.

November-20 Articles, Wellbeing,
The Collaborative Office

We talk to Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor on the future of offices and the shifting role of workspaces.

May-21 Product news,
Introducing Lamellow+

Introducing Lamellow+ from Gustafs, a beautiful combination of felt and wood for indoor public spaces with natural fire safety properties.

May-20 Awards, Product news,
Cisco’s Webex Room Panorama Awarded Red Dot: Best of the Best

Gustaf’s collaboration with Cisco has resulted in a fantastic conference solution that has been awarded with Red Dot: Best of the best

May-20 Product news,
New Narrow RIB Dimensions For Creative Installations

We have developed a new design for our timber slats. A narrower model is now available for walls and ceilings.

February-20 Product news,
Lund District Court Featured Under Best Applied Products on ArchDaily

The project Lund’s district court is featured on Archdaily – Building of the year award. The project is featured under Best applied products.

January-20 Acoustics, Product news,
New Gpod at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2020

Once again we have a new product to present at the Stockholm furniture fair – come and experience our new meeting pod.

May-19 Fire, Product news,
New Stripe-XL With Dark Core Achieves Unique Fire Classification A2-s1,d0

Architect Arata Isozaki has been awarded the pritker prize. One of his projects is QNCC, which consists largely of Gustaf’s interior panels

March-19 Project news,
QNCC Among the Pritzker Prize Winner’s Project

Architect Arata Isozaki has been awarded the pritker prize. One of his projects is QNCC, which consists largely of Gustaf’s interior panels

February-19 Acoustics, Product news,
An Office Meeting Pod with a Modern Design – Gustafs Acoustic Gpod

Gustafs Gpod is our new Office meeting pod, designed for both meetings but also as an exclusive wooden furniture with perfect acoustics.

January-19 Product news,
Product Launch at Stockholm Furniture Fair

During the Stockholm Furniture Fair we will be launching a brand new product – we’re redefining the workplace, again

December-18 Product news,
Introducing Gustafs D-Line Spot

We continue to develop our product range. It is now possible to install spotlights as D-Line, we introduce Gustafs D-Line Spot

October-18 Project news,
DTU Building 202 Awarded Detail Inside Special Prize 2018

Once again DTU Building 202 has been awarded for it’s design. This time the prestigious Detail Inside Special Prize.

September-18 Product news,
Introducing Linear RIB-S – A New Linear RIB Design

Introducing Linear RIB-S design. a new design with sharper edges that give the increased feel of a solid wooden rib.

August-18 Product news,
Gustafs D-Line – A new linear LED lighting for our Linear System

Gustafs D-Line is our new integrated LED lighting system, fully compatibel with our Linear System – LED lighting for wall and ceilings.

June-18 Awards, Project news,
Library Project Receives RIBA Award

Bedfordshire library project has been awarded the RIBA East Award 2018. We are delighted to have been part of this project.

July-17 Project news,
DTU Building 202 Awarded Carpentry Prize 2017

The stunning project DTU building 202 has been awarded the Carpentry Prize 2017. We are proud to have delivered our panels to the project.

June-17 Project news,
European Healthcare Design Award 2017

The Brunel Building of Southmead Hospital has been awarded European Healthcare Design 2017. Gustafs and LSA have produced and supplied panels to the project.

May-17 Project news,
New Library at University of Bedfordshire

Gustafs together with LSA have produced and supplied slatted wood panels to this new library at Bedfordshire University.

April-17 Project news,
Royal College of Music nominated for the building of the year

The Royal College of Music in Stockholm is one of ten projects nominated for Stockholm Building of the Year.

February-16 Acoustics, Project news,
Gustafs Panels at Royal College of Music in Stockholm

Gustafs are producing interior acoustic wood panels for all music venues at the new royal college of music in Stockholm.

December-15 Project news,
Gustafs Awarded for the environmental work at NKS

Gustafs have been awarded by the contractor Skanske for our environmental work at the project site NKS, we are truly glad!

November-14 Project news,
Emporia, årets BREEAM-byggnad

Gustafs have contributed with interior wall panels in laminate and wood surfaces to the BREEAM Building of the year project.

October-14 Product news,
Dark Core Fibre Gypsum

Our brand new dark fibre gypsum core can be used to hide the perforations in a better way, using dark veneered wood panels.

October-14 Acoustics, Project news,
Gustafs win Malmö Live contract

Gustafs have won the Malmö Live contract and will produce and install interior wall and ceiling panels for this spectacular venue.

December-13 Project news,
First project in China

We’re happy to announce Gustafs’ first ever project in China. We have produced and supplied this auditorium with wood panels.

July-13 Gustafs' history,
Gustafs Scandinavia celebrates 100 years

This summer Gustafs celebrated 100 years as a business, with the start of Andreas Tunander acquired the business back in 1913.

May-13 Project news,
The New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburgh

Together with our Russian supplier, Gustafs has manufactured and delivered fireproof wooden panels for this historic building.

January-13 Product news,
Introducing Gustafs Linear System

Gustafs Linear System is our brand new cladding system with linear design, utilizing real wood veneer and a Quick-Up installation system.

November-12 Fire, Product news,
Gustafs wooden panels with A2-s1,d0

Gustafs’ wood panels are now certified with fire classification A2-s1,d0 according to the European fire class.

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.