Millions are now working from home in an unexpected global experiment triggered by Covid-19. Many employers and employees are finding this works for them. The benefits of this shift are potentially transformative.
Cutting down on wasteful journeys has dramatically reduced pollution. Businesses are reducing overheads through more effective use of space and time. Cities are becoming friendlier for walking, cycling and alternative means of transport. Social wealth is returning to neighbourhoods – condensed around work, home, markets and school, as well as spaces of culture, care and refuge.
There is momentum and good will not to go back. But to make these changes sustainable, we need to unpick a century of design, policy and law that segregates work from the home and local communities.
We need to rethink cities and housing to meet the needs of people who want to work at home or in their neighbourhoods. Planning and designing for this new culture of work must become as ordinary as designing bus lanes, parks, bin stores or bike sheds. Laws and regulations that result in poor and overcrowded buildings, stifling the ability to work from home especially for the less privileged, must be challenged. Tackling these problems is an opportunity to build a fairer and more inclusive economy – one that works close to home and in favour of a better social climate around the world.
The Workhome Project’s mission is to advocate for good design, influence policy-making, and inspire and support communities in achieving this change. We want to promote a bottom-up understanding of the tolerance, flexibility and creativity needed to make future cities and economies more resilient.
Cany Ash is a co-founder of Ash Sakula Architects, one of the UK’s leading housing and regeneration architects. The practice was Supreme Winner in the 2016 Housing Design Award for the Malings, a new riverside neighbourhood in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 2017 its 475 home Wickside project was Overall Winner in the New London Architecture Awards. Alongside its architectural work, Ash Sakula has pursued ‘constructive propaganda’ through a series of projects captured in short films and websites. Collective Custom Build, Adaptable Neighbourhoods and the Meanwhile London Caravanserai project all champion people and their livelihoods against a backdrop of thoughtless land assembly for development, and demolition of worthwhile structures.
Richard Brown is an architectural designer and urbanist who is interested in the way in which places are made, and how change is affected by affordability, local identity and heritage. Richard has authored a range of reports and publications, most notably: Creative Factories – Hackney Wick and Fish Island (2014, LLDC) and MADE IN HWFI:The Live Work Collectives (2012, SEE STUDIO) – both focussed on the informal live-work warehouse communities in East London. In these publications and in further subsequent work, he sheds light on how the semi public spaces of the factory complex have allowed communities to thrive in creating new vibrant neighbourhoods from the inside out. In his current practice at BrownUrbanism, Richard works with local communities, private clients and local creative businesses in East London to help design for and sustain creative production. Richard is pleased to be working with the workhome project as a co-host of the work home project podcasts. www.brownurbanism.com
Howard Davis is Professor of Architecture at the University of Oregon, USA. His interests are at the intersection of architecture with the social and economic life of cities. A native of New York City, he has degrees in physics from Cooper Union and Northwestern University, and in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. Howard is the author of three books: The Culture of Building, Living Over the Store: Architecture and Local Urban Life, which concerns buildings that combine dwelling and workplaces, and most recently Working Cities: Architecture, Place and Production. His design studios deal with complex urban buildings involving dwelling, industry and commerce. Over the last 10 years he has worked with colleagues at the Bartlett on the architecture and urbanism of the historic furniture industry in Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. and is now very happy to be a part of The Workhome Project.
Wolfe Hall is a narrative- and research-led design studio founded by Luke Hall and Jason Wolfe. They collaborate internationally with cultural institutions and clients working in the arts, fashion and academia to create publications, exhibitions, identities, typefaces, signage, wayfinding and digital platforms. The studio believes that design should be responsive to content, beginning every project with conversations and in-depth research to discover important story threads that can be woven through every element. By focusing on narrative, they create unique, memorable and enduring outcomes that move beyond current trends whilst maintaining a contemporary aesthetic. Luke and Jason designed the Workhome’s Visual Identity. www.wolfehall.com
Frances Holliss is an architect and Emeritus Reader in Architecture at London Metropolitan University. An expert on the architecture of home-based work, her publications include ‘Beyond Live/Work: The Architecture of Home-based Work’ (Routledge 2015) and DASH #15: ‘Home Work City’ (Nai010 2019), a Dutch journal edition on design for home-based work at the scale of the urban block, with Eireen Schreurs and Paul Kuitenbrouwer. She speaks internationally on the subject. Holliss received AHRC funding in 2009 (Designing the Workhome: from theory to practice) to transfer her doctoral research (The Workhome: a new building type?) to the public realm, in collaboration with architects Prof Colin Davies and Angela Lee, and partners in industry Cazenove Architects, Baufritz UK and the Fresh Life Co. The project developed a workhome precedent database, design guide and pattern book, available open-access on www.theworkhome.com. Further AHRC funding supported an exploration of home-based work in social housing in collaboration with London-based Newlon Housing Trust (Towards the affordable workhome: A community-based initiative with home-based workers in social housing). In the context of Covid-19, Holliss has collaborated with a small team to launch the Workhome Project as a global call to people interested in how home-based work impacts on buildings and cities - and laws and regulations - to collaborate in terms of developing a world that facilitates it.
Joseph Kohlmaier is a Principal Lecturer and Head of Critical and Contextual Studies at the School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University. He has worked on several incarnations of the Workhome Project with Frances Hollis for almost ten years. Joseph is also a founding director of graphic design practice Polimekanos, and founding director of Musarc, one of the UK's most progressive choral collectives. Joseph designed and developed the Workhome Project website and works with the team on the project’s strategic outlook and mission.
Led by founder and Chief Executive, Jeremy Porteus FRSA, the Housing LIN (Learning and Improvement Network) is a sophisticated community of practice that brings together over 25,000 housing, health and social care practitioners and thought-leaders in England, Wales, and Scotland, to exemplify innovative housing solutions for an ageing population. Jeremy is closely associated with the development of the ‘care ready’ HAPPI design principles. He is co-author of RIBA’s guide on age-friendly housing and, since COVID-19 took hold, has also written about designing for accessible and adaptable our homes for ‘work readiness’. He is proud to be a founding member of the Workhome Project and to champion change in the way we co-design our future homes through the lived experience of older and disabled adults.