The architecture firm NBBJ has revealed the design of The Net, a new generation office building in Seattle intended to favour well-being and social cohesion.
The firm’s proposal is a response to the problems caused by skyscrapers (anti high-rise, an English neologism that seems to have been invented for the occasion). These include a lack of community integration and the difficulties getting fresh air from outside due to ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Of course, this needs to be put into perspective: this type of building does help reduce the physical and environmental footprint of the construction and provides essential space for accommodation, work, and leisure. On the other hand, the firm found that high-rise towers ‘are detrimental to physical and social health’, as vertical floors tend to isolate residents and prevent them from socialising.
The Net revisits the dynamics of office buildings and could well serve as a model for a new generation of commercial architecture. By prioritising two ideas that improve both human and professional performance: Well-being at work and the connected tower. Furthermore, the tower encourages physical activity and interaction with nature. Sky Park, a three-tier rooftop, will provide outdoor access and a panoramic view of the town. If they so choose, visitors will be able to gain access to the roof using stair spanning 33 floors, which will obviously provide an opportunity for physical activity.
In terms of technological innovations, the building will also use ‘contactless access from the street to the office’. This design strategy will enable occupants and visitors to enter the building and reach their destination without touching a single surface. Finally, the building will take in 100% of its air and water from outdoors and will also have a bicycle room and even a repair workshop.
Interpersonal communication is at the heart of the project, particularly by improving flow of movement and making it easier to see and communicate with both colleagues and visitors.