Planning a modern office
Connectivity, mobility and automation are helping more and more establish their own firms. What kind of office space should these start-ups have?
GLOBALISATION, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, broadband and wireless connectivity... well all these techno terms represent today's youth and development. Fast connectivity, mobility and automation are making more and more young men become independent, and open their own firms. These offices can be planned for the technological and architectural growth, if some care is taken.
Since most of the offices are paperless and computer based, the main generic for planning is the computer and its electronics. The cabling is most often run through the floor or the ceiling. Proper planning at the earlier stage can provide for all the points being laid in the slab concrete itself. But as the furniture layout and the ambience demands, the ceiling can be done up with a false ceiling or an elevated flooring. Elevated floorings (cost Rs.200 per sq. ft. for wooden flooring) which are laid over wooden or metal runners are preferred, as the furniture layout can be custom-made and the wiring would still be concealed. The false ceiling option (costs Rs. 40 per sq ft. for plaster of paris, and Rs. 80 to Rs.100 for wooden) does conceal the roof wiring but to bring down the line to the cubicles is always a hassle. The power lines and wiring also should be done keeping in mind the Indian Power Lines and earthing system. Providing stabilisers and power surge protection becomes a must as well.
Artificial intelligence in buildings is a system by which Venetian blinds can be adjusted according to the time of the day, glare can be reduced, lights can be switched on and off automatically and more. Though the initial cost may be 20-25 per cent additional to the normal construction cost, the savings gained in the form of increased productivity and reduced recurring expenses would offset the initial expenditure in a few years.
Most offices have employees who travel to commute to their office space, but the office spaces usually only have work spaces. Instead if a small pause in the form of a forecourt and a relaxation area in the form of a cafeteria can be provided before actually starting to work, it will make employees feel homely.
The work environment also plays a vital role in the productivity of the employee. A tense work environment can be made vibrant and peaceful by having large openings and a lot of greenery near the work spaces.
The work area and the work tops are just as important. Options are available in the form of laminates (Rs.60 sq. ft), veneers (Rs.115 sq.ft), stone tops (Rs. 80 to Rs.300) plywoods with Duco paint finish. There are also ready-made tables available which are very easy to deploy.
Other vital factors that could help employees are:
Bringing in more glass for space continuity - to help remove claustrophobia.
Good external lighting.
Low partitions for `large-space' feeling.
The external view should help create an extension of internal space. Need for indoor landscaped courtyards / pebble and sculpture courts.
Linking of floors by having double height ceilings, atriums and internal courts.
These characteristics would be discussed in detail in the following weeks.
The author is the Chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai.
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