The basket will be cleared if the country is changed. Do you still want to change country?

Interview with Sarah Müllertz, Head of Design at Henning Larsen Architects

HOW TO BENEFIT FROM AN ACTIVITY-BASED SPACE

SARAH MÜLLERTZ, PARTNER AND HEAD OF DESIGN AT HENNING LARSEN ARCHITECTS, SPECIALISES IN ACTIVITY-BASED SPACE PLANNING. WE PICKED HER BRAIN ON THE CONCEPT AND ON THE BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH IT. 

WHAT IS ACTIVITY-BASED SPACE PLANNING?
It is a form of office layout: how you sit and how you work and how you interact in your organisation. It is not only about furniture but about how your organisation works and how your workflows underline and enhance your performance as an individual.

HOW DID THE CONCEPT ARISE?
Activity-based work spaces has been around for many years, though not in the shape we see today. When Frank Lloyd Wright built an open floor plan office in Chicago in the 1930s a new space emerged, and other architects soon followed him. In the 1960s people broke out of their small cubicles and began embracing open office spaces that made communication easier and broke down barriers – by physically breaking down walls. Today several parameters influence the modern workspace – such as advanced IT or globalisation of the workplace. The landscape is much more divers and defined more and more by the activities present in the organisation.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF ACTIVITY-BASED SPACE PLANNING?
Firstly, activity-based space planning is not about placing furniture in an open office – it is about enhancing the productivity and the co-working of an organisation. Second, it is important to underline that interaction within the organisation is key. Knowing how people act within their work flow, what do they use, what do they need – these factors together can help define and build the activity-based work space. 

WHAT ROLE DOES FURNITURE PLAY WITHIN THIS TYPE OF SPACE PLANNING?
Soft padded furniture and creating a feeling of home has trended in office spaces within the last 10 to 15 years. Sitting more comfortably leads to a different situation or interaction with a colleague – it might be more relaxing and help build trust. This trust you can take with you to the next formal meeting in the conference room and translate to an efficiency and thus a beneficial factor for the company.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING BREAKOUT AREAS IN OPEN OFFICES?
A key factor is the possibility of creating an informal room for privacy. Furniture like the highbacked sheltering sofas for open offices encourage to sitting down, having confidential conversations with a colleague or on the phone. Furthermore, the breakout area calls for chance encounters and informal chats that lead to decisions. By sitting in a soft environment with the acoustic sheltering it adds, the term ‘meeting’ can take on quite new meanings. Within an organisation it is important that people see each other and talk to each other. In break-out areas conversation and interaction becomes natural.

WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING WITHIN ACTIVITY-BASED SPACE PLANNING?
Introducing a homelike environment is an emerging trend and with it comes soft seating or soft padded furniture. Since work and private life is intertwining like never before, a busy day at the office can be accommodated by places that encourage you to take a break. I think we are going to see soft padded furniture evolve to fit the workflows of today and tomorrow.

Plenum sofa

The Plenum sofa by Jaime Hayon comes in all fabrics and leather types, and in three different variants.; one-seater, two-seater and three-seater.