Our proposal for the Crown Estate/ AJ Future Office competition is inspired by William Morris' story ‘News From Nowhere’ (1890)

In his book, the English designer, writer, and social activist describes a future vision of London where the advent of technology has allowed people to regain a closer relationship with nature. 

The introduction of the open plan office in the early 20th Century – first seen in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building (1906) in New York- created a new egalitarian environment which fostered innovation and teamwork, and where workers were free to communicate their thoughts with each other. In addition, the open plan office offers both capital benefits due to the reduced need for building materials and construction costs associated with cellular accommodation, and also operational costs due to the ability to share resources.

While the benefits of open plan working are clear, there are also drawbacks associated with this type of arrangement: background noise, the inability to adjust light and temperature to individual preferences, workers feeling like a small cog in a large machine, and also, inherent inflexibility of workstations meaning they are unsuitable for the variety of tasks are all obstacles which need to be overcome.

Our proposal seeks to incorporate the benefits of open plan working, while addressing the negatives, by revisiting William Morris’ vision of a more ‘natural’ environment as the ideal workplace of the future.

The advent of wireless technology removes the shackles of deskbound workers, allowing the future office to become a truly ‘open’ environment. Existing workstations are replaced by a serviced grid in floors and ceilings providing wi-fi connection and individual ability to control heating levels and air quality. Our visions allows freedom to move within a new office landscape.

Each worker has the ability to find, claim and adapt a space within the office to suit their particular requirements for the tasks they face at any particular moment.

Key Features:

  • Floor grid serviced to allow free movement and adaptability throughout office space.
  • Artificial Sky in Ceiling grid changes light levels and colour temperature over the course of the day.
  • Series of installations mimicking natural conditions
  • Monolithic Service Bots- Print, Make, Water, Snack cater for each individual need.
  • A series of adaptable blocks- designed to human scale can be used to create enclosures/ tables/ seats as required by particular tasks
  • Fruit trees provide fresh snacks
  • Adjustable Tint Windows
  • Programmable Shades
  • Air Quality Sensor
  • Speakers
  • Tunable LED Lighting/ Artifical Sky
  • Occupancy Sensors
  • 360deg Video Cameras (BIG Brother)
  • Biometric Wearable Sensors inform users on activity/ movement levels
  • Adjustable Ventilation
  • Wireless Service Grid allows for complete control by building users


Location: London
Client: The Crown Estate/ Architects Journal
Value: n/a
Status: Competition