Living Buildings. The future of office buildings until 2050 (SKANSKA)

//Living Buildings. The future of office buildings until 2050 (SKANSKA)

Everyone asks about the future – how will it be, how will we live, how will we work or how will we travel. Even though we can observe trends and directions, we must be aware that once a while a real disruption comes and changes the way we live, work or travel.

Future will always be a surprise, but this is not a reason not to be curious and you should try to foresee it a bit.

That’s why SKANSKA decided to study the future of offices and try to discover possible scenarios of what will happen in the following 50 years.

They’ve cooperated with Foresight Institute to explore the future, by conducting workshops and discussions with market experts and users, and invited architecture students to a speculative design project, where they have designed a building answering to the changes we see in the world. They didn’t look at the closer future, but way forward… 10, 20 and 50 years ahead.

In the report they present 5 future scenarios of office buildings:

  • For the people and by the people
  • In symbiosis with nature
  • Independent & self-sufficient
  • Adaptability & flexibility
  • Invisible architecture

Here are some insights from every scenarios:

For the People and By the People (Inclusion & Diversity) – office buildings are going to have to be characterised by an even greater openness and usefulness to accommodate age, sex, experience and needs of various groups of people to a greater extent. The diverse and manifold community of a particular space, comprising both tenants and inhabitants of neighbouring buildings, is going to become even more important. The local community is going to be increasingly actively involved in the life of buildings and office buildings, and they will make use of the space after standard working hours

In symbiosis with nature – it assumes that all buildings in the future are going to be “green” and that they are going to be making extensive use of solutions based on the so-called green infrastructure (green terraces, roofs, facades covered with vegetation, internal or external gardens, walls covered with plants). All of that will make the presence of vegetation more than just a decorative element. The scenario is also connected with a complete change of the way people think and the need to return to nature.

Independent & Self-Sufficient – it is based on an assumption that each building in the future will become an autonomous unit, i.e. it will be able to operate independently of external infrastructure. Buildings will supply 100% of their energy demand in compliance with all their tenants’ needs. In such office buildings the sense of security of its users is going to be very high, since any disruption of operations as a result of unexpected events, such as cataclysms, sudden weather changes, terrorist attacks or even simple failures would be impossible.

Adaptability & Flexibility – it assumes that office buildings in the future will be changing as time passes, flexible and not completely defined, as well as adapting to their users (both in terms of their shape and functionality). Currently, the scenario is driven by such trends, as: modularity, multi-functionality, dynamics and adaptation. Advanced technologies will enable efficient transformation of buildings depending on tenants’ current needs or the number of teams working inside them.

Invisible Architecture — it assumes that buildings become invisible for city inhabitants. They not only blend with their surroundings and do not disturb the space in any way – they also disappear, in a way, from the cities using latest solutions and technologies. The scenario is also an answer to the decreasing amount of space in cities and architectural disorder, and it is connected with the increasingly strong appreciation of cultural heritage and urban landscape.