HDI Offices – Tokyo

Firm
  • Client HDI Global,
  • size 5,813 sqft
  • Year 2017
  • Location Tokyo, Japan,
  • Industry Consulting / Business Services, Financial / Investments,
  • designed the offices of global insurance company , located in Tokyo, Japan.

    What does an authentic workplace look like? Designing an authentic office is not an easy task. Just like the terms “artist”, “poet” or “great lover”, these are titles that are given or need to be earned rather than being self-assigned.

    Our attempt in creating an authentic workplace started off with our WorkVitamins methodology. This methodology was created by me, Martin van der Linden, principal of van der Architects, when I was an assistant researcher at Waseda Univeristy in 2001 here in Tokyo. I believe that architecture can be a catalyst for change in innovative environments, and this methodology – called “WorkVitamins” – is based on this idea. We created four distinctive zones with a diverse set of spaces for specific tasks ranging from individual to group work, and from concentration to collaboration.

    On the far right, along the building wall we added semi-enclosed booths for work that requires concentration and privacy. Five height-adjustable tables are enclosed with sound absorbing wool-cement boards. An indicator light in front of these booths acts as a simple reservation system. The booths feature double flat-screens and are used by the staff for writing reports, preparing payroll, or document review. One of the booths has
    back to back seats for collaborative work.

    In the centre of the space we placed three large worktables. These tables are mainly for individual processing-type of work which requires little interaction with other staff nor concentration.

    To the left of the space is a collaborative area. Most of the office is in a neutral white-grey colour palette but the collaborative space deliberately been coloured in green, with green walls, a green floor and green ceiling. A mix of seating gives the employees the choice to either sit individually in comfortable sofa’s, or in small groups either along
    the back wall on a bench with chairs in front of them or in dinner-type
    booths that can accommodate four.

    A Workplace Vision and the WorkVitamins methodology have created an office based around an analysis and a break-down of the specific activities that are performed by this specific company. In the end the design provides a variety of work settings. But the design for the HDI office is still an office, it is not an office disguised as a playground
    or a playground disguised as an office. Not that there is anything wrong with an office designed as a playground, but that’s not what this specific office is about. Authenticity at work does not come from design, design by itself means nothing.

    As the architect it is not up to me to say that the users are having authentic experience in this office but the combination of understanding the need for a diverse work setting in combination with a strong conceptual vision of how people can rather than should work might contribute to some sort of authenticity at work.

    Design
    Photography: Yo Masunaga