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INTER-404

Today's competitive working environment must respond to a significant number of challenges that promise to reshape what we think a workplace is, where it is located, and how it functions; the ramifications of which offer us new horizons for shaping how we relate to one another within the fluid, self-organized complex that is the new office of 2020. In order to remain flexible in response to the eccentricities of a volatile market, companies are hiring increasing numbers of contract workers. Georgia Collins, Director of DEGW North America, estimates that 26% of the current U.S. Workforce are independent contractors, and by 2019 a full 40% of the workforce will be. While such flexible staffing arrangements do bring up serious issues, such as individual access to health care, they also suggest a more dynamic work environment more amenable to achieving a satisfactory work-life balance; one that allows people to decide how, where and when they get their work done. Contemporary advances in information technologies have provided us with a new found mobility within and outside the office, allowing for virtual collaboration across disparate geographies in ways that enhance our individual and group productivity. Additionally, emergent techniques in how we input, manipulate, format and transfer content promise new possibilities for data rich interactivity between ourselves, our devices and the world surrounding us, - especially when we find ourselves on the go. This suggests a search for new typologies in office place design, ones that increase the opportunities for the types of convivial exchanges that are essential for today's competitive working professional while allowing for the programmatic and physical flexibility necessary to respond to the demands of our highly dynamic, economic environment. Responses such as the creation of close programmatic adjacencies that create a greater level of interaction between a variety of scales and types of uses allowing for multi-functionality through the planned juxtaposition of complementary and mutually supporting uses. From short term leases for "Pop-Up" retailers or provisional offices to opportunities for expansion or contraction dependent on market conditions, the indoor urban territory that is the office place of 2020 promises to be a markedly different experience from what we know today. How can we manipulate (and integrate) space, furnishings, and technology to foster these critical social connections and make them more meaningful? Knowing that modern technology and evolving work culture enable us to work remotely anywhere - what kind of places will we choose to work in 2020? As an interdisciplinary studio, the course will be dedicated to an exploration of interpersonal relationships in the workplace; of how they are effected by the contemporary changes in our workplace environments and the furnishings, devices and technologies that are embedded within them. The studio will explore a series of potential new sites for the emerging, contractually employed knowledge workforce, sites that emphasize the inherently collaborative and social nature of their enterprise such as airports, rental offices for contract workers only, conference lounges rented by the hour, coffee lounges, etc. These spaces, their furnishings and devices as well as the technology we use to interact with them will be explored for each of these prototypical environments by discrete, cross-disciplinary teams. Each team will be responsible for an initial area of research, for selecting and defining their particular working environment to explore, for designing the furnishings and devices for this environment, and finally, for a proposal of how we might interact with these devices, furnishings and spaces, and by extension with one another in the year 2020.