One of the things I love about being a freelancer is the ability to work virtually anywhere I please, even from the sofa or bed. But regular, 9-to-5 office spaces have been changing too, with cubicles giving way to more open plan setups. Design students at ÉCAL University have come up with this ingenious work space layout as part of a workshop, which they call Workbay Village. It is a flexible, fun workspace, which allows employees to work, nap, and even grow plants.
Workbay Village is made up of custom-designed office pods, which were inspired by the so-called Workbays system of office dividers originally designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The workshop was led by Erwan Bouroullec and Camille Blin, and the main goal was to create an office which fosters greater interaction between people by giving workers a chance to step away from work and exchange ideas in a more casual manner.
One of the pods that makes up this office set-up is the so-called Farm Bay, which was created by ÉCAL student Paula Cermeno. It allows employees to grow and care for plants, while also purifying the air inside the office. Another of the pods is the so-called Bar Bay, which was created by student Sara de Campos, and it is a sort of bar, which lets employees have their happy hour right in the office. The style of this pod was inspired by Japanese sushi bars.
The Nap Bay, as the name suggests, is a pod where people can take a quick nap during the workday. It features a comfy looking bed and curtains for privacy, and was designed by Yasunori Morinaga. Another sleeping area was designed by Antoine Chauvin and is called Capsule Bay. It was inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, and it is made up of two small bedrooms one on top of the other, with the top one accessible via a set of rungs. The lamps, standing desk chairs, wall bins and the bungee-cord storage system, were also designed by the students specifically for this project.
The Azores, a group of gorgeous islands just off the coast of Portugal, has seen increased tourism in recent years. However fortunate that maybe, it also presents a problem for the environment, so in a bid to retain the unspoiled state of the landscape, the local Tourism and Agribusiness Development Company of the Azores (TADA) has come up with a way to preserve it. They will be developing eco-resorts across the islands, which will be sustainable and have a minimal footprint.
The resorts will basically be made up of solar powered cabins, which they are calling the Eco Pods. They are currently planning to build six of these eco-resorts and the first is already under construction in the Vila Franca Do Campo Region of São Miguel Island. It’s set to open in the summer of 2017.
The resort will feature an as yet undisclosed number of Eco Pods. The smallest of these will measure 161 sq ft (15 sq m) and will feature a sleeping area and a sitting area, along with a small food preparation space. The pod will be equipped with a fridge, a coffee machine and a TV. The bathroom will be located outside and will be heated by an external wood burner.
There will also be a few 215 sq ft (20 sq m) Eco Pods. These will have all of the above, but the bathroom will be an inside one. The largest of the Eco-Pods making up the resort will measure 322 sq ft (30 sq m) and will feature all of the above as well as a small kitchenette.
All the EcoPods are prefabricated and raised off the ground on stilts that are made from recycled electricity poles. Among the other materials used for the construction are locally-sourced pumice stone, windows made from recycled plastic bottles, and timber that is grown locally. The cabins will be powered by a solar panel array. The Eco-Pods currently have normal toilets with septic tanks installed, though the plan was to equip them with composting toilets, which sadly fell through.
The Eco-Pods are built to withstand high-winds and earthquakes, while TADA also plans to put the designs to use for other purposes, such as disaster relief housing, or garden pavilions.
The recently unveiled Gapahuk cabin was designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and the leisure home builder Rindalshytter. It can be equipped to operate completely independently of the grid, and comes in a prefabricated package, meaning it can be built virtually anywhere.
The Gapahuk is a single story structure and has 968 sq ft (90 sq m) of interior floorspace. The interior is well-laid out, with most of the space taken up by a large open plan living/dining area and kitchen. The home also features three bedrooms, a spacious bathroom with a shower and toilet, and another separate toilet. The home also features a large covered outdoor deck, and plenty of storage areas, both inside and out.
Judging from the renders, the finished home will feature ample glazing, while most of the interior and exterior surfaces will be clad in wood. While the basic version is intended to be hooked up to the grid, it would also be easy to install the necessary tech to take if off-grid. according to the firm, the cabin’s sloping roof is ideal for installing solar panels, while it also protects from both the sun and from high winds. The home is heated by a wood burning stove, while it would probably be relatively simple to install a composting toilet, and a couple of water tanks and a water filtration system. Since the home was designed in Norway, it is probably safe to assume it offers comfortable living conditions even in the harshest climates.
The Gapahuk is probably the closest thing you can get to a professionally designed, high-end prefab home at the moment, and as such also carries a hefty price tag. It costs roughly $156,600 (1350,000 NOK) which does not include construction, or any of the off-grid features.
Given the recent refugee crisis, it’s more important than ever to have affordable, practical and easy to construct disaster relief housing solutions available. The recently unveiled Duffy Shelter is all that and more. It was created by the firm Duffy London of London, UK, and they also manufacture them. The shelters are easy to construct and are shipped flatpacked, so 35 of them can be transported in one van.
The Duffy Shelter is basically a pod, which is raised off the ground. It measures 73 x 49 x 56 in (185 x 125 x 142 cm), and can easily accommodate two adults sleeping side by side. The shelter is comprised of two wooden walls, a wooden floor, a door, two crossing legs, and four feet. All of the wooden parts are manufactured using a CNC cutting machine, while the wood comes from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-managed forests and other controlled sources. The additional components include windows, shutters, hinges, seals and screws. The shelter can be erected in less than an hour using only a screwdriver.
Since the shelter is raised off the ground, a lot of the cold and dampness is already eliminated, but it is also well insulated using fabric. The shelter’s primary use is as disaster relief housing, though it can also be used as a tent, or a guesthouse. It’s possible to apply different kinds of finishes to the exterior, depending on their purpose. It can also be placed atop a trailer and towed by a car.
Duffy London is currently accepting large orders from companies and charities, though there is a 12- to 16-week lead-time. They plan to start accepting single unit orders from the general public in early to mid 2017. Pricing will also be announced at that time, while pricing for bulk orders is currently available on request.
A growing number of 18-34 year olds are nowadays more likely to live at home with their parents than on their own with a partner. The recent global economic crisis and the resulting lessening of job security are the main culprits for this, and design firm Enorme Studio of Spain has come up with a number of ingenious designs aimed at this segment of the population.
The designs support independence even as these people are giving it up by returning home. The project was sponsored by furniture giant IKEA, so the firm was able to include some hacked IKEA pieces into their designs.
The project is aptly called Home Back Home, and it is composed of versatile designs, which can be used to turn rooms in the parent’s home into bedrooms, workspaces or living areas for the children returning home. For example, one of the designs features a set of stools, which serve as a storage platform. There is also a hidden desk and bed installed in the living room and used by a PhD graduate living with her younger brother in a shared apartment.
For a fashion designer client, Enorme Studio created a multipurpose sewing workspace using an old table and shelf. This set up is also easy to dismantle when not in use. Over this space they installed a series of small cabinet boxes attached to rails, so all the materials stored in them are easily accessible while visual clutter is minimized.
For a young architect living at her grandmother’s house, they designed a custom made shelving wall, where she can store all the materials she needs for work, as well as all her personal belongings.
This project is a great example of just how much can be done with less, if we are willing to think outside the box.