The office of the future must be flexible
The Swedish firm of architects Krook & Tjäder is behind one of Gothenburg’s new office buildings, Slakthuset, which embraces the history of the former abattoir while incorporating flexible design.
Read about the architects’ thoughts, and listen to what they have to say about current and future office trends.
The most sustainable and economically responsible thing to do is to design office buildings that do not need to be completely renovated every time a new tenant comes along. This calls for a lot of flexibility – also on the part of the architects and builders who need to think about the possible long-term uses of the buildings from the outset.
This is the opinion of the architect Lisa Karlsson who is responsible for offices at Krook &Tjäder – one of Sweden’s largest architectural firms, which has 300 employees based in Gothenburg, Malmö, Stockholm, Halmstad, Borås, Uppsala and Östersund as well as in Kristianstad and Oslo in Norway.
Krook &Tjäder is behind the new corporate headquarters of the real estate company Klövern, a thoroughly renovated historic building located in the heart of Gothenburg’s old Slakthus district. Here, a former cold store has been converted into attractive offices on two floors while respecting the raw industrial look of the building.
Klövern was one of three finalists for the title of ‘Sverige Snyggaste Kontor 2020’ (Sweden’s Nicest Office).
Flexibility is a must
According to Lisa Karlsson, the overall trend for office domiciles is the need for flexible working environments.
“The market has become more unpredictable, and today many business owners are finding it difficult to predict how many employees they will have in five or ten years’ time. We’re therefore seeing shorter tenancies and a need for greater flexibility with the possibility of quickly increasing or reducing capacity. This is naturally impacting the way offices are designed,” she says, adding:
“Building offices with a short life cycle is neither economically sound nor sustainable. Instead, we must build flexible office spaces that last a long time – in terms of both the floor plan and the overall look. As architects, clients, tenants and others involved in the projects, we must help each other to find the right solution.”
What can I do with my dog?
According to Lisa Karlsson, another trend, which also has to do with the need for flexible buildings, is a growing demand for service and a ‘special experience’ when you decide to go into the office. In light of all the working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, simply having a desk at work is not enough – more is required.
“It’s a trend that we’ve seen before, but which has intensified with the pandemic. People want services that make daily life easier, but which also do a bit more when, as employees, they make the effort of going into the office instead of working from home. Things like having lunch delivered or doggy daycare. What is possible again depends on how flexible the office is at accommodating special wishes.”
Balancing new and old
At Klövern’s 850-square-metre corporate office in Gothenburg, a flexible design was exactly what they were after. Moreover, the old building had many original features that had to be preserved for posterity. For Krook &Tjäder, the task therefore lay in preserving the original architecture while at the same time establishing a creative environment.
On entering, you step into the heart of the building, where a broad staircase doubles as seating, and where colleagues can eat lunch together or hold meetings or conferences. The other areas are divided into zones with small phone boxes and conference facilities.
As a contrast to the elements from the building’s past, sustainable materials have been used which also help to create an air of exclusivity. Among other things, selected surfaces are covered with wood panelling, while others have been fitted with Troldtekt acoustic panels. The acoustic panels go well with the industrial elements, and ensure that there is a pleasant sound environment in the offices.
“Variation, sustainability and flexibility have been constant themes throughout the entire project. We have used the industrial past of the area as a source of inspiration, and allowed the space to convey its original history with a raw look which is balanced with soft materials for a harmonious feel. In this way, we are creating attractive and sustainable environments for Klövern, for the individual employee and for society as a whole,” says Lorena Zabala, an architect at Krook &Tjäder.
Facts about Krook & Tjäder
- Founded in 1988 in Gothenburg, Krook & Tjäder now has offices in Gothenburg, Malmö, Stockholm, Halmstad, Borås, Uppsala and Östersund as well as in Kristianstad and Oslo in Norway.
- Works with architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, interior design and product design.
- The company has 300 employees.
Lisa Karlsson, architect and responsible for Office at Arkitekterna Krook &
Lorena Zabala, architect at Arkitekterna Krook & Tjäder.