More Than A Building

Last night Channel 4 broadcast, The Secret Life of Buildings, on the impacts of buildings on our work, education, relationships and well being.


For many years research has shown that the design of buildings and its interiors can play a huge part in how people engage and perform from people’s happiness and health to productivity and creativity. Architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff explored different buildings and work places and its effect on users.

One of the most innovative buildings was the BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany, designed by award winning architect Zaha Hadid. She is also responsible for the Olympic Aquatic Centre. Her design for BMW brought factory assembly and administration under one roof as the conveyor belt ran through the administration departments from marketing to legal. The impact was that it created a better understanding of the product, better relationships between factory workers and administration teams and a better working environment.

So how does your work environment fare? Most of us take in photos of our children, maybe other family members, a plant and maybe one or two artefacts to make us feel more at home and improve our working environment. We work in open plan offices that create as much distraction as they do effective communication. We rarely have spaces to stimulate the different types of work we may have to do in our day.

The Interpolis offices in Netherlands is a dream for most people. Here, different zones have been created for people to work in depending on what kind of tasks they are doing. Desk are often left empty as people pile into the hotel like areas. Productivity has increased, employee satisfaction has increased and furthermore, profits have increased. It is a win win building.

The programme suggests that we have a long way to go in the UK for such innovative buildings and even goes to recommend that we take our influence from Europe and not America. Even buildings can be politically charged!

I watched this programme with fascination and would recommend it to anyone who has a keen interest in architecture or even in the psychological impacts of buildings.


2 Comments to “More Than A Building”

  1. Zaha Hadid is amazing! My sister and I went to see her exhibition at the design museum a few years back which was incredible. She exhibited a miniature of the aquatic centre for the Olympics and it was very exciting to see the unveiling!

    I agree that a building’s design is important – if I feel proud of the institution that I work for – which for me, includes the ability to use cutting edge technology – then I am happier and work more productively.

  2. What an interesting read I would love to visit the BMW factory to see it in practice. Zaha Hadid is such a talented architect way ahead of her time.

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