The evolving story of a profession. Being an architect is not just about designing buildings. An architect is basically a holistic master builder and skilled polymath. Being multi-disciplinary trained makes you find different solutions. The architect as business optimizer.
Due to the specialisations, the profession has been increasingly cut up into compartmentalisation of roles, resulting in cacophonic disharmony instead of the intended more skilful harmonic resonance. The majority of architects have done little to heal the fracture in the delicate balance of usefulness, beauty, firmness and economics.
The attention to a holistic (human) approach of the 3 fundamental architectural principles: Functional (UTILITAS) Technical (FIRMITAS) and Aesthetic (VENUSTAS), as the Roman architect/master builder Vitruvius already mentioned around 25 BC, have the last decades been hollowed out and overshadowed by using the economics as the main guiding principle.
For the Romans, architecture encompassed everything in the physical and intellectual life of humankind. Also, the ancient Greeks regarded the role of the architect as impressively broad. In contemporary architecture, instead of an integral approach of the Triple P principle with nature and people as a starting point (Human-centred approach), the emphasis was placed on Profit while Planet (ecological) and People (psychological/sociological) came second.
The learn/work environment is the place in which many policies converge like Finance, Operation, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources and specific programs such as those relating to sustainability, safety & security and health & well-being.
Buildings, the places where each of us spends roughly 90% of our lives, must be at the heart of the solution to foster wellness. It is well-documented that the built environment can cause health disorders and stress. Creating curative and preventive measures requires an interdisciplinary approach.
We live in an era in which the world is changing very fast. This makes that many organisations should become far more resilient, adaptable and inventive than what is typical now. Their existing learn/work environments are solidified policies from the past. A more eco-system approach to the physical, digital and social environment supports the transition to a new fit for purpose. Encouraging and engaging in creativity and originality is now like never before needed. Create spaces to share ideas, think the unthinkable out loud, and find support and inspiration.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
(R. Buckminster Fuller)
You cannot influence just a part without also moving the whole. Each part is therefore potentially an entrance to initiate a change in the whole.
The best way to get the entire organisation moving is to crowdsource the problem. Ask all of your people to hack the old model and give their ideas on how to change it, and then start running local low-risk experiments. It’s an immensely empowering thing when you say to every employee: “Here’s your chance to help design the learn/work environment in which you spend most of your day/most of your life.”
As an organisation, dare to think big, but start small. and expand incrementally Without experimentation, innovation is impossible. Experiment and gradually find out which form and speed of implementation suit the organisation best. Have faith in the process. Like anything new, it takes a bit of trial and error before you get it right, but the payoff is worth it.
As business consultant architects for a learn/work environment, we give new substance to ‘the architect as master builder’ and we are inspired by the following:
Vision gives us the ability to live according to our imagination instead of our memory
Central to our actions is man as a creative, independent individual with all his diversity. From Real Estate to the Real State of Human Beings. In the organisation of the future, people with their knowledge, experience, talent and passion are the most important capital. They determine for themselves how they can contribute most sustainably to the company’s objectives. Successful organisations are aware that they do not own (the knowledge of) people and aim to gain access to the knowledge and ideas of the best talents, which can also be customers. Intangible assets (knowledge, creativity, innovation) versus tangible assets (buildings, operating assets). Creativity breeds disagreement and disagreement is very productive for new thinking.
Gemstones and precious metals merge into a jewel that is more than the sum of its parts
We chart new paths with innovative ideas and surprising approaches. Paths that also invite others to excel. Successful innovation is about remixing and reapplying existing ideas to new contexts. By integrating our business and real estate expertise, we support our clients to achieve their goals.
It's not just about a different mindset, but also about resuscitation of the heartset
Buildings play an important role in economic and social processes. We believe that buildings and their environment have a decisive influence on how people feel and behave, how businesses and institutions function and perform and how cities develop.
We are always looking for the balance between ratio/logic and emotion/experience, mind and heart because it is this balance that contributes to the goal of the organisation and the well-being of people. Successful organisations of the future not only create financial value but multiple values such as sustainability, health, well-being, work/life balance, and social contribution. They focus more on a meaningful goal (mission) than on being the best or the greatest. From Real Estate to the Real State of Human Beings. Change is possible. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Balance between mind and heart
A left-brain approach emphasizes the quantitative aspects of accommodation. The intellect of the mind. The hard rational and economic approach. (How does the accommodation perform?) While an approach from the right hemisphere of the brain mainly emphasizes the qualitative and experience aspects of accommodation. The intellect of the heart. The soft psychological and social approach. (What does accommodation do to you?) The truth is not the middle but a dynamic personal balance of a left and a right-brain approach.
Passion is the energy of the heart. Passion is the fuel that gives you the energy to achieve your dreams. Vision is the power of the head and is the roadmap to the manifestation of your dreams. Or as Nelson Mandela put it: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
It is a proven fact that your mind doesn’t live inside your brain. The reality is that your brain is basically just a sender and receiver of information. To and from the place where what you call your mind is actually located: the collective Field. Not only does your mind live in the Field along with everyone else’s minds, but all of those minds work in concert with yours to create the reality we collectively experience unfolding around us.
The most exciting thing about that revelation is that it means you have the inherent ability to exert a lot more conscious control in guiding the creation of that reality than you likely realize or can even imagine.
“Business spirituality is a model in which realism and idealism have a business interaction. Successful companies have both corporate expertise and corporate spirituality”. –Prof. Dr Paul de Blot SJ
Spirituality in general is the physics we haven’t understood yet. Bridging the gap between science and spirituality to form a new balanced unity is about bringing the two sides of the same coin back together. Self-actualization and workplace spirituality lead to a holistic work-life balance. The purpose of business is not only for profit but also pursued with the highest levels of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Entrepreneurship is one of the most important energies in humanity to walk new paths. Entrepreneurship in which the relationship between masculine and feminine forces is in a good balance is crucial to society’s next release. Being entrepreneurial is above all making an innovative contribution.
Empowerment of people
The quality of education, research and facilities stands or falls with the quality of the employees and the way in which they cooperate with each other; the organisation. You can have a lot of summary data, but that doesn’t really tell you what’s going on down on the ground. We’ve tended to take all the rich data we have and move it up rather than saying, how do we equip frontline teams with the data they need to self-manage?
New technologies can be used to reinforce the existing but also to re-invent an organisation. So that new ideas and funding decisions are distributed and made by the tribe, rather than ideas fighting their way up through the management pyramid, only to have an executive say yes or no. Make employees bring their creativity to work.
Gary Hamel, a faculty member of the London Business School and co-founder of the Management Lab, calls this HUMANOCRACY: Creating Organizations As Amazing As The People Inside Them.
Ubuntu - humanity towards others
We are inspired by Ubuntu, an ethical/humanist philosophy from Africa, which is sometimes translated as “I am because we are.” If it’s not good for everyone, it’s no good at all. As humanity, we are interconnected. We are open to and accessible to others because exchanging and sharing diversity brings prosperity to all. When making decisions, there must be consensus and human ethics on the basis of which decisions are made. Connecting the dots of the new era of the purpose economy.
Learn/work environment as ecosystem
A blended learn/workplace ecosystem, based on classrooms, offices, homes and other locations including digital space, regionally relevant and internationally interesting. Our environment is an ecosystem consisting of 3 interconnected areas: The physical environment of real estate and facilities, the Digital environment of ‘smart’ buildings plus online learning hubs in a digital classroom and the Social Environment of usage, behaviour agreements, human connection and social bonding which are important for corporate culture and learning.
A workplace is no longer a single location, but an ecosystem of a variety of locations and experiences to support flexibility, functionality and employee well-being.
Learn/work environments should provide inspiring destinations that strengthen cultural connection, enhance learning, encourage bonding among colleagues, students and customers, and foster creativity and innovation. Encourage students to discover and develop their own talents and to take control of themselves.
A blended learn/work environment is an environment that makes it possible to meet each other, even without having to travel, collaborate and learn together, both physically and digitally. It is an environment where students and employees feel at home. Let’s give the emperor some (real) clothes.
“Architects are trained to take all kinds of different needs and requirements and design structures that will accommodate them all (lift human spirit, sensible efficient plan and economically feasible).”
John Portman, Architect/developer/investor.