“The biophilic office of the future is where work and nature interact together in harmony, in an organic and horizontal architecture responding to the surrounding context”.
~ Kengo Kuma
Kengo Kuma is one of the world’s most highly acclaimed architects. He runs his Kengo Kuma & Associates practice in Tokyo, and has branches in Beijing, Shanghai and Paris. Kuma, 66, believes that in a post-pandemic world, the days of designing structures as enclosed spaces are numbered.
“Covid-19 has taught us that enclosed boxes and high-density living in city centers have no place in the future of design,” he said recently in an interview from his head office in Tokyo. “The pandemic came from uncontrolled industrialization. It’s time to listen to nature.”
And it is to nature that Mr. Kuma looks for one of his current projects – the “Welcome Feeling at Work” office complex in Milan. That project envisages a back-to-nature vibe for the office environment – the whole of it, from work spaces and lounge areas to office furniture. Warm woods by skilled Italian artisans can be found everywhere in the space which spans more than 50,000 sq m. The various facades of the development showcase lush greenery and landscaping instead of the ubiquitous office building materials of concrete, steel and glass.
The avant-garde project is commissioned by the Italian property firm Europe Risorse, and is being built in the former Rizzoli area at Parco Lambro in Milan. It is designed to showcase how work areas can be more liveable in a post-pandemic era, with natural lighting, greater ventilation and generous allotments of biophilia such as indoor plants and outdoor landscaping.
When completed in 2024, “Welcome” will also boast zero carbon emissions, renewable energy resources, conservation of water and endemic species of flora and fauna, which Mr. Kuma says are essential for a more people-focused and multi-sensory office experience.
Photo Gallery: The “Welcome Feeling at Work” Office Complex, Milan