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The Generative Office Building

Sailer, K; Pomeroy, R; Raheem, A; Budgen, A; Lonsdale, N; (2012) The Generative Office Building. In: Greene, M and Reyes, J and Castro, A, (eds.) Proceedings of the 8th Space Syntax Symposium. (pp. 8010:1-8010:25). Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: Santiago de Chile, Chile. Green open access

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Abstract

The Space Syntax concept of the generative and conservative building describes the effect of spatial configuration on knowledge creation: a building that acts generatively allows new relationships, new ideas, new products and new knowledge to emerge by maximising random encounters between people. In contrast, a building that acts conservatively preserves and mirrors existing relationships, existing ideas and existing knowledge by reinforcing a specific interface between people. A key criterion for the generativity of a building was proposed to be an integrative layout. However, evidence of patterns of encounter, movement flows and organisational behaviour suggests that not every building with high levels of integration is automatically generative of new knowledge. What is more, looking at a spatial layout it is difficult to judge whether the level of integration is rather high or low given size and structure of the space (e.g. number of floors, size of floor plate). Therefore the question of what constitutes a generative office building remains unanswered. Using a large sample of 62 different organisations and their office spaces, this paper therefore aims to create a better understanding of what renders an office building generative or conservative, by expanding on the original theory of generativity and including a more detailed articulation of the spatial qualities that are influential. For the analysis, results of a VGA of each of the office buildings in the sample are compared, investigating not only overall levels of integration, but also the distribution of integration and the relationship between integration levels and structural features. This allows the construction of a benchmark of possible ranges of integration for office buildings. It is further investigated which of the buildings are deemed generative by the inhabitants and how this relates to various spatial characteristics. The paper finally proposes a variety of different factors that may have a bearing on the generativity of an office building. This list of factors combines suggestions from the original theory of generative and conservative buildings with additional syntactical, spatial and organisational aspects of space usage. The paper concludes that the generativity of an office space depends on several factors and features, including but not limited to integration and syntactical measures that can be analysed on the basis of a floor plan. Implications for theory and workplace consultancy practice are discussed and reflected on.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: The Generative Office Building
Event: 8th International Space Syntax Symposium
Location: Santiago de Chile
Dates: 03 January 2012 - 06 January 2012
ISBN-13: 978-956-345-862-6
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.sss8.cl/media/upload/paginas/seccion/80...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: office, interaction, generative building, space syntax
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1342935
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