A strange topic you may think … but one occupying my mind at present thanks to an imminent move to brand new office premises. The new office is clearly very beautiful, all curves and ergonomic design epitomising a 21st Century ethic. There is nothing not to like, it will be a great place to work and will undoubtedly improve morale and increase productivity for a whole raft of reasons.
But … you knew there was going to be a but, it was the “vs.” that gave it away …
I have an unnatural love of the linear… the squared away, the boxy chart, a grid. I’m never happier than when looking at straight lines, I find them comforting because they have a defined start and end, you know where they are going, you can see the joins and the directional choices you can make. They are more predictable !
I like that because change is a constant in my work and that is healthy … but in a building … I like a degree of constancy, I like the rhythm of the building I’m in, it knows what it’s there for. Is that time driven or design driven? I’m not sure its down to time, or indeed familiarity. Owen Hatherley in “The new ruins of Great Britain” suggested it was a building that looks like “… businesslike modernism…” that sums it up nicely for me.
It does help that I work in, what I think is, a modernist masterpiece (designed by Gordon Tait), it is a soaring statement of sixties confidence, it’s proud, a landmark, a symbol of certainty, but with touches of beautiful delicacy.
Too often, sadly, those embellishments go unnoticed. We cover up a masterful relief sculpture (by Griffiths and Mitchell) with wire racks and pull up posters that obscure a dynamic abstraction that is breathtakingly beautiful; purely and proudly of its time. I look at a different part of it each time I walk past. It inspires creativity in me.
I wonder if the video wall in the new building will have such emotional punch and lasting integrity. I hope so, but fear it will not, through no fault of its own – the technology is designed to move on, the 21st Century is fast and constantly changing and this is reflected in the spaces we create, and that is fine, it just makes it hard for me to connect emotionally straight away – I have to work out where its going, I don’t know where its ‘lines’ are taking me yet.