Business Magazine

Sunken Office – Thinkibility Nibble

By Thinkibility


What are the benefits of spending the day in an office where there is no need for artificial lightning during the day?

According to John Seely Brown, (co-chair at the Deloitte Center for the Edge and former chief scientist at Xerox), an organisation that frequently produce innovation share three characteristics:
  • visionary leadership
  • an organizational commitment to breakthrough thinking
  • a place that supports the work of innovation.
Let us look at the last item on the list – a place that supports the work of innovation. Barbara Armstrong says,  “Workplace design can, and does, inspire innovation.” While no design may change a climate to become less risk averse, it may inspire new and brave thoughts.Below is a list of aspects that are important to consider when designing a work place.

1. Thermal Comfort and Temperature

2. Access to Nature, Views and Daylight

3. Sensory Change and Variability

4. Colour

5. Noise Control

6. Crowding

7. Human Factors and Ergonomics

8. Indoor Air Quality

9. Choice

10. Employee Engagement


Spanish architecture firm Selgas Canohas has designed a sunken office where the employees are surrounded by a colourful lush forest. The building is encapsulated by a curving glass wall and provides you with the opportunity to look at the forest from a bug’s perspective.

The window is lined with desks and you have  an eye-level view of the forest floor. You can watch animals, falling leaves and watch the tree branches move while you are working.

Submerging half the building into the earth is a clever way of getting an excellent insulation. The building is in Madrid, which has hot summers and this design has reduced the need for air conditioning.This building scores high in the aspect related to closeness to nature, views, and  daylight“People generally prefer to be surrounded by nature, which provides endless sources of variation and sensory change. The instinctive bond between humans and other living systems, often called biophilia, is important to replicate in interior environments. (HOK)“

Albert Einstein said “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” We need to be able to change our perspectives. By looking at a problem from different frames of reference, new possibilities for solving the problem may emerge. You get a different perspective on a problem when you look at it from a bug’s perspective as compared to a bird’s view in an office at the fifth floor.

The perspective also changes during the day. Do you feel more  inspired to watch the world from a bug’s perspective in the dark?

Photo: by Iwan Baan.

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