Spatial Optimisation: An Imperative In The New CO-LAB World

The last few decades have seen the world become a much tighter canvas as connects across the globe have only brought countries and communities together. This increase in transparency has led to cross-pollination of ideas and has brought people together, giving rise to the phenomena of ‘Collaboration in the workplace’.

Cloud computing and faster internet connections are allowing professionals to collaborate with experts from across the world to deliver more efficient products. With the production sector exploiting the digital workspace, the new educated, skilled and engaged workforce needs new spaces that allow them to function at their best. These new workspaces need to establish a far greater emphasis on partnership and interdependence, so that the users may productively and effectively connect.

Our new workplaces need to take a socialist approach and ensure that the open floor-plate format helps in dissolving the boundaries and creates multifunctional and flexible spaces that are key to supporting the evolving co-working environment. Strategies to develop new or existing setups to this format do not necessarily imply a spike in investment cost, as by optimizing the existing resources, be they material or fiscal both the capital and operational costs can be controlled.

Planning or converting space to have dual functions in key in ensuring that the entire footprint of the office space is utilized to its maximum. This multiplicity of function, helps in giving each space an ever-evolving character making it more dynamic in nature and allowing for the occupants to transform it as they please. With the long hours that we all seem to be putting into work, as top organizations strive towards making their employs overtly comfortable (almost ensuring more comfort than home), there is a major blurring of lines between our work time and personal time. While, this fad is here to stay as planners and architects we can certainly ensure space transitions can help nudge an individual to perceive the space for its original intent.  Hence, the need to create multiple break-out zones in a typical floor plate is far more important now, so as to provide a distinct contrast between the spaces where we work and where we take time off to stare into space

It is imperative to constantly refine and integrate learnings from a much wider arc of behavioural trends to inform strategies that need to be applied to develop spaces. In an ideal working collaborative environment, its users must feel secure to be productive. These finer nuances of spatial demarcation help in creating a unique identity even for multifunctional spaces.


Marx:Architecture:Influences and Interpretations


Marxism quintessentially divides people into two broad categories and attempts to explain based on their relationship to how things are made. Most people are called “workers” because they work in factories or offices or farms for money. They belong to the “working class”. Another group, that  are not as big as the working class are “capitalists”, because they own the factories, land and buildings that the workers have to work in and also own all of the tools the workers have to use.


Marx calls Capitalists the “Ruling Class” because they live off of the work of all the workers.


There has never been a clear outline explanation for Marx:Architecture. What then would constitute the relationship between the terms ‘Marx’ and ‘Architecture’? His text are yet suggestive towards a full range of architectural and spatial principles.


Engels breaks down Marx’s project as coming out of the synthesis of three strands of

European thought: economics (British), politics (French), and philosophy (German).


There are first the texts that deal directly with an urban thus, implicitly architectural subject matter, such as the section on the country and the city in the German Ideology of 1845, and in the 1848 Manifesto, or the constant references and comments on the processes and effects of industrial urbanisation. There are also texts on housing and urbanism by Marx’s collaborator Engels.


Marx can thus be understood as both:

1. A theorist of human production in general; and

2. A theorist of capitalist production in particular.


Walter Benjamin (1936)




In a sense most of Benjamin’s most famous work roots from the Marxian thought. In a famous passage towards the end of  ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, Benjamin writes:

Building has been man’s companion since primeval times. Many art forms have developed and perished…[But] architecture has never been idle. Its history is more ancient than that of

any art, and its claim to being a living force has significance in every attempt to comprehend the

relationship of the masses to art . . . [The] mode of appropriation, developed with reference to

architecture, in certain circumstances acquires canonical value. For the tasks which face the

human apparatus of perception at the turning points of history cannot be solved by optical

means, that is, by contemplation, alone. They are mastered gradually by habit.


by this logic —that the ‘mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of

existence . . .determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well’. We may derive the basic layout of the architectural as spatial practice.

Paul Valéry, Pièces sur L’Art, 1931

Original Title: Le Conquete de l’ubiquite

Title of the Translated Copy: The Conquest of Ubiquity

*Ubiquity is a synonym for omnipresence, the property of being present everywhere.


“Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.”



See David Murray and Mark Neocleous, ‘Marx Comes

First Again, and Loses’, Radical Philosophy, 134

(November/December, 2005), p. 60.


See David Cunningham, ‘The Concept of the

Metropolis: Philosophy and Urban Form’, Radical

Philosophy, 133 (September/October, 2005), p. 13.


“Space” quintessentially is defined in reference to its own context, and then is it truly possible to ensure that it can be flexed in a real sense of the term. Considering function dominates the utilization of space in the modern built form, the need of the hour is to be able to customize and predict the potential function and occupancy level of the from at the design stages of any given project.

The second given parameter that helps us define space is its interactions with humanity. The activity patterns and circulation zones in the built form impart character to the space it contains. Space design is meant to influence our emotions.

The obvious question that arises is that if space flexes then the emotional reaction it causes changes too. But have we as architects been able to bring about this change intentionally or is it simply a by-product of shift in function.  Functional changes need to be taken slowly, requiring time for reflection throughout the form and the emotional reaction it might cause. Modern space needs to work on its quality of being memorable.

The new rules of planning should not cause for us to lose sight of the true reasons to build. Space is meant to have character, individuality and be distinct in its true form.

1. What is the way to ensure that space is flexed without damaging its distinct character?

2. Can character be retrofitted into an existing space?

Home Territory and Identity: J. Macgregor Wise – 10 Dec

The author  discusses the notion of home and the theory of identity and know territory. He says that home may not be defined as a place alone, but a sense of home can be developed in any space by the practice of habits alone. He goes on to say that space needs to be personalized for it to feel like home. He gives an example of a child singing to himself in order to take control of his fear and provide comfort.

 There is a connection between home and culture “one culture which differs from another based on how each culture assumes its territories”.  Wise goes on to state that home is a process. He defines an architect as a person who can create space but it is the user who inhabits it and makes it home thus an architect in true sense of the term is not a home maker.

  1. How different is space inhabitation from dwelling?

The Smooth and the Striated: Deluze and Guattari – 7 Dec

The authors discuss the difference between smooth and striated space and how they relate to each other. They state that things are rarely either smooth or striated — that most things are in a constant process of becoming one or the other. The two types of spaces essentially exist in the state of synthesis “we must remind ourselves that the two spaces in fact exist only in mixture: smooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space”.

Smooth spaces are like that of the ocean or the desert; it appears as one continuous entity. Striated spaces on the other hand feel much more controlled and rigid, have limits, and focuses on points.

1. What is the real relationship between striated and smooth spaces?

Biological Sovereignty: Eugene Thacker- 3 Dec

The author addresses the issues of biological sovereignty and its effects on society. Emerging infectious diseases and bio-terrorism are fear provoking, Countries and there governments look at bioterror as a real threat and invest seriously in countering this threat.

An epidemic has a particular power to strike fear into the heart of the population specifically because it is invisible and has no clear bounds. An epidemic behaves as a flock that operates on simple rule – infects and replicate. The fact remains that we are going to have more waves of fear mongering in future.

  1. How prepared are we architecturally to defend and deal with the demands that bio- terrorism might impose in the future?