Ersa Mobilya | From Past to Present: Exploring Architectural Movements and Trends in Office Design! Ersa Mobilya | From Past to Present: Exploring Architectural Movements and Trends in Office Design!
Ersa Mobilya | From Past to Present: Exploring Architectural Movements and Trends in Office Design!
December 11, 2023

From Past to Present: Exploring Architectural Movements and Trends in Office Design!

From Past to Present: Exploring Architectural Movements and Trends in Office Design!


Offices, being the epicenter of professional life, constitute a significant portion of our daily environment. Consequently, the transformation of these spaces into modern work environments holds great importance. In recent years, particularly in the field of office design architecture, developments have shifted workplaces from being mere working spaces to becoming environments that reflect the brand’s identity and culture, enhancing employee motivation and productivity. Architectural movements and historical office furniture have played a significant role in this transformation.


In this article, we will closely examine the changes in office decoration from the past to the present and delve into the prominent office design trends of recent times.


A Historic First: The Earliest Know Offices


The first offices emerged as places where official tasks were conducted. Originating in ancient Rome, these offices maintained a similar appearance throughout the ages. The construction of private office buildings occurred in the 18th century. With the globalization of commerce, the first office building was built in 1726. Known as the Old Admiralty Board Room, this building was located in London and served various bureaucratic tasks. It is still in use today. Following the construction of this building office designs became more prevalent.


As office designs became more common, certain shortcomings started to emerge. It became widely accepted that separate rooms were necessary to ensure uninterrupted work for an individual. For more mechanical tasks, environments were created where several officers could work together in harmony in the same room. In 1864, a building was constructed, which was considered a ‘skyscraper’ by the standars of the time. In this metal-framed glass building, every space was designed to receive natural light. Artificial lighting needs were minimized in this building where office spaces were made more expansive.


Office Design and Modern Workspaces After the Industrial Revolution


The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries was a transformative period that had a profound impact worldwide. During this period, the perspective on office spaces also changed significantly. The mass production brought about by the Industrial Revolution revealed that offices needed to be organized, efficient and fast-paced places operating with order and discipline. Offices designed during this period were often spacious and open-plan, placing everyone in a layout where they could see each other, ensuring supervision. The historical office furniture of the era also reflected this idea. Work desks and chairs were designed for practical use, prioritizing functionality over comfort and aesthetics.


By the 20th century, office spaces became much more modern. Private offices, workstations with typewriters and communal workspaces also became part of offices. During this period, the idea that the productivity of employees was directly related to office design gained strength, leading to the incorporation of elements that made offices more comfortable and increased employee motivation. Colors, natural light, plants, artistic elements and more comfortable furniture became indispensable elements of modern workspaces. Particularly, the open-plan office design, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, is one of the best-known movements aimed at increasing productivity.


Modern Movements: Taylorism 


One of the most popular architectural movements in the 20th century as we moved towards modern workplaces was Taylorism. Proposed by American engineer and management scientist Frederick Winslow Taylor, Taylorism is a management and work organization theory designed to make work processes more efficient. One of the basic principled of Taylorism is the scientific analysis of work processes to find the most efficient method. Elements such as division of labor, compromise, standardization and performance-related pay are also integral parts of this work plan.


Collaboration: Bürolandschaft


Developed in Germany in the 1960s and used in office arrangements. Bürolandschaft encourages social interaction and collaboration in the workplace. Various physical elements, plants, furniture and artistic elements are used when making this arrangement. Partition panels, shelves or similar elements are sometimes preferred to separate workspaces. The Bürolandschaft approach aims to create a more social, democratic and flexible working environment.


Individuality: Action Office


As Bürolandschaft developed, a new approach known as the Action Office began to emerge. This model was quite different from the previous one in terms of providing various alternative work environments for staff, increased freedom of movement and more privacy while working. There was an increased emphasis on meeting rooms in this trend. At the same time, individual workspaces became larger, and the workspace icnreased. Interpersonal communication noticeably decreased in this architectural movement as individuals felt more isolated and confined within their small cubicles.


Cellular Office: Cubicle Movement


The cubicle movement offered office workers a bit more privacy and personalization. This arrangement emerged by creating small, private workspaces enclosed by high partition panels on three sides for each employee. These workspaces were often filled with a desk, a chair and shelves or cabinets for storing files when needed. Social interaction was greatly reduced in this architectural movement as employees felt isolated within their small cube.


Flexibility and Sustainability: Network Offices


A period was established where work could be conducted independent of location and time thanks to technology. Flexible offices, shaped according to the needs and work styles of employees are now more commonly preffed. Sustainability has also become one of the trends in office design. Practices such as energy-saving lighting systems, furniture made from recyclable materials and green offices have come to the forefront, aiming to fulfill both environment responsibility and have a positive impact on the health and productivity of employees.


In line with flexibility and sustainability a new office design movement has started to take root. The ‘Network Office’ or ‘Networked Office’ movement is a prominent trend in office design in the early 21s century. This movement focuses on organizing the office space to allow employees to work more effectively together. In this approach, spaces are created where different teams or individuals can interact with each other. The fundamental characteristics of the Network Office movement include adopting flexibility, collaboration and technology-based solutions. High-speed internet connection, cloud-based services, mobile devices, and other technological solutions enable employees to collaborate and work outside the office.


In conclusion office design and architecture have been in a constant state of transformation and development from the past to the present. With new trends and technological advancementsi this change and transformation can continue indefinitely.

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