From Auckland to Melbourne and beyond, it seems people are trying to come to terms with the rapid growth and density of our cities. The strategy to increase density, as a way to improve the liveability and functioning of our city, causes us all to reflect on the quality of life we are accustomed to, and what we might wish for in the future. In our minds, this means thinking about the amount of space we have, how we use it, and the way people seek to interact in it.
Third Place Thinking™ and 106 Architects Founder, Dion Gosling – Sports Architect, had long been exploring the efficiency of space movement, both in the way we might work, and the way we collaborate with our clients. For example, all 106 studios, Auckland, Melbourne, Wanaka are set within shared spaces. Sure, we have done this to optimise financial resources and our use of space. But more so, because we feel that the dynamic and dense arrangement of skills and expertise leads to better client outcomes. Why? Because the conversation in these spaces becomes fluid, we get smarter from the shared dialogue. Moreover, we’re more actively connected to the communities in which we work. This ultimately equals better designs for everyone we touch.
Dion’s commitment to this space movement exploration was best illustrated during the Summer of 2016 when we set out to discover the impact a reduction of space might have on the business and the way we work. Hence the #GoneMobile experiment was born.
The #GoneMobile Experiment
106 Architects created a temporary office on the site of one of their projects – the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre in Okahu Bay, Auckland. The space, a 9 m2 caravan, was of a magnitude smaller than our 90 m2 studio. During their time in the 9m2 mobile office, they observed that the space changed in response to their needs. It happened in such a fluid way that it often flew under the radar. They moved from “documentation mode” to “meeting mode” all within the same small space, and with little disturbance to the way they worked. This eliminated the need for several adjoining spaces with fixed (constructed) purposes. Spatial boundaries become reduced or even blurred, making smaller spaces smarter by design.
The other advantage of working in a small office space by the sea was that it was easy to manage, and it was flexible, even nimble. By being on the site and near their client-community, it opened up powerful conversations, while revealing extraordinary insights into how people engage with and benefit from the space and its surrounds.
The 106 team found the move into their much loved harbour-side caravan office came with increased free-flow of ideas that surged back and forth with ease. Although they were experimenting with the business space, they knew the real opportunity was how they could apply these learnings to their future Living, Sports and Community designs.
How smaller spaces lead to better connections
Before the experiment, they knew that they would come away with some great ideas on how to introduce smart design into homes – how spaces can respond to changing needs for volume, size or purpose; otherwise known as smart spaces. Smart spaces are often expressed through the utilisation of sliding partitions to control volume or changing traditional geometry to create more versatile spaces. Of course, after #GoneMobile the 106 team came away with some ideas on how to better use kitchens as a family social hub, but perhaps the more profound learnings from the experiment related to how small spaces can help effectively breakdown social disconnection.
Small Spaces in the Digital Age
Smaller spaces lend themselves to that 'Third Place'
The next challenge – #StayingMobile
Dion is continuing to work on ideas for fun smart space experiments, which we are hoping will play out within proximity to our newest Melbourne office location. We are proactively brainstorming our next move – for now, let’s call it #StayingMobile! We’d love it if you could hit us up with your ideas on how you think we can continue the conversation. Together we can work towards optimising the outcomes of urban intensification so that lifestyle outcomes are better for everyone.