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Architecture and gossip: creating places to come together

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Communication is everything, even in office life. Not news, especially for those who spend a significant part of their lives at desks, in conference rooms, or those cramped “communication cells” and felt-covered sofa corners that are current office furnishing fads. Nevertheless, it seems as if every generation of planners has to rediscover the importance of communication for themselves. If only because so much is forgotten.

There is, for example, the building that opened in 1993 at the Port of Hamburg after a long preliminary planning that was intensively covered in the specialist media. The media concert Gruner & Jahr commissioned the architects Steidle & Partner and Kiessler & Partner to develop its new headquarters with hundreds of offices.

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The building was not only famous for the diagonally supported architecture, which is reminiscent of the solid proletarian history of the port and its cranes. What was even more fascinating at the time was the interior, which was radically designed for gatherings, with wide rooms, stairwells with small balconies, wide corridors and many semi-open offices.

It was a sensation that gossip – which so many fanatically normalizing working time planners believe is superfluous – was declared necessary for the success of office work. In retrospect, an architecture of the 1968s, the self-liberation of the workers. And perhaps because of this, an architecture that was quickly forgotten in the neoliberal 1990s, when only shareholder value seemed to count.

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Now that such top-down leadership has experienced its failure in various banking crises, it can certainly be recognized as part of the causes of the climate crisis, where the social aspect is being rediscovered as part of the success of company models – if only because of the shortage of skilled workers – it also becomes clear that being face-to-face with colleagues cannot be replaced digitally.

We will certainly work differently in the future, but we will still have to come together physically in order to be able to debate new projects, new ideas, and rediscover old ideas.

And just as libraries, which digitization freaks predicted would die around 2000, are experiencing a breathtaking renaissance as a place to live, especially among younger people, workplaces in the future will also be judged primarily on whether they allow gossip.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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