The Future of the Office Space Article with Futurist Mark Bryan

February 19, 2021

The pandemic has completely changed the way we travel, communicate, meet, shop and experience life in general. But, how has it influenced the future of buildings and construction?

Check out MA’s Futurist, Senior Interior Designer, Mark Bryan, as he was featured in Commercial Cafe’s article, alongside nationally recognized architects and interior designers to understand COVID-19’s consequences on the future of office spaces.

The interviews – including Mark’s – specifically ask how office spaces could be made healthier for employees; the techniques and materials that will play an important role in the future; and the next trends in commercial real estate interior design.

The future is now, and Mark is here to talk about what comes next.

Check out this excerpt from the article, and Mark’s perspective, here:

How has COVID-19 changed architecture and interior design, and what will be the long-term results?

2020 and COVID-19 will be known as the Great Accelerator. While highlighting gaps in our clients’ assets and needs, it has pushed forward a host of macro world drivers that have been waiting in the wings. With the pandemic came desynchronized living, fear factor of safety, prioritizing self but strengthening the ‘we’, an intimacy and social recession, an understanding of our carbon footprint, recognizing diversity, and a hefty reliance on phygital [physical plus digital] living.

We have moved from Speed to Purpose, from Apathetic to Empowered, from Individual to Collective, from Myopic to Choice, from Smart to Helpful, and from Mass-Produced to Curated.
With this, architecture and interior design will become the community bridge to foster inclusivity, empathy, empowerment, upskilling, wellness, and regenerative designs/spaces/principles. The responsibility as architects and designers is greater than ever to create space for change.

We see 4 main forecasts for what our industry will be shaped by and look like in the next 10 years.

  • Mobilized – As people flex back and forth between rural and urban preferred living, depending on safety and comfort needs, cities become more dispersed along with workplaces becoming more hub-based. With this, firms are completely mobile and working in a 24/7 modality due to a time-fluid society. This new mobility allows projects to be more “gig” or subscription-based. Smaller projects will sometimes only focus on a specialized part before moving onto the next project. Subscription-based services and delivered offerings align with brands and partners for future projects and services. The demand for delivery will also create new mobile at-home developments and micro-communities.
  • Resiliency Developers – In the wake of the pandemic, the mistrust of being in spaces that are packed with others changes how users interact with the environments and what they need to feel safe. This requires firms to rethink how to create social, flexible buildings rooted in safety. These adaptive buildings require new systems to be in place that are listed on public domains for users to see updates on before entering the building or centers. The activations within these buildings allow for quick changes or pivots to space to allow for new use. Examples will be seen as workplace spaces that are able to become production spaces. Other activations would allow the sealing of a building for an internal sanitization. These buildings are deemed resilient or pandemic-prepared. These new design principles also incorporate ways to build resiliency within the users by requiring spaces for mental wellness, both during times of crisis and everyday living.
  • Sensorial Enablers – In contrast to touchless experiences brought on by the pandemic, those that are sensorial will become a priority. This elevates experiential design and requires behavioral psychology to allow for these experiences to be inclusive of all populations. Those experiences that bring joy to daily ritualized spaces will be used as a metric for productivity and company culture/engagement. Companies that include sensorial experiences will be more positively received by their clients and staff. Immersive realities will be curated and tailored to individual needs through augmented intelligence.

  • Ecological Producers – Self-sustaining architecture rises as a request from future clients who have had to pivot during the pandemic. This requires the use of materials that can perform self-care and allow for new energy generating practices to be incorporated. These new ecosystems update sustainability practices to become regenerative, and allow for a new off-grid/siloed certifications to be applied. These self-sustaining buildings are also required to give developers more control over the building’s performance. Part of self-sustaining is preparedness for climate disaster and for reusing waste to create replacement materials for repair as the building ages. Included in these new buildings are conditioned outdoor spaces that allow for flex indoor/outdoor use. Clean design principles are also employed to promote safety and well-being.