Current office development is not solely to meet people’s need for enough space but also another aspect of our desire for more. It is not just a quantitative increase in office space, on the contrary, office space per employee is actually shrinking. New office tenants are looking for more amenities, flexible floor plans, better views, and easier accessibility. There are many research papers supporting an increasing working efficiency in these new spaces. However, I used to work in an office built in the 70’s and it only provided basic facilities for the day-to-day job. Did it really reduce my efficiency during work? Not so much.
I’m not opposing new office development, I just hope it comes in a smart way regarding a long period of time for which an office could last. Redevelopment of old buildings is a good option to save energy and generate value to the city, which would reduce new development volume. On the other hand, our desire changes from time to time, and we can hardly forecast what future offices will be. Is the suburban office going to become vacant due to the current urbanism trend? Are we going to work at home by VR (Virtual Reality) in the future? If so, what are we going to do with those new spaces?
Those questions are hypothetical and we are more focused on the present rather than unpredictable futures. Office developers are always targeting the current tenants’ desires to maximize profit. We are flowing by trend and have little control over which direction it heads. It doesn’t only happen to office but also to the city. An example would be Beijing in the 1960s when a new government selected the city as the capital and changed the urban appearance by diminishing a considerable amount of historical buildings. Few people criticized this decision at that time because we were asking for more housing, wider roads, and a completed grid system. People nowadays realize the issue and question the decision. Opposite to Beijing, Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is able to reserve its historical beauty.
Our desires are endless, and also in other aspects of life such as food, transportation, entertainment, and so on. We are consistently asking for superior things than we previously had but fail to think about if it is worthy of the cost to do so. Thinking about the future and controlling our desires are probably my solution to better solve it.