Buro Happold unveils its new healthy office in Warsaw

Buro Happold recently moved to its new healthy office in Spektrum Tower in Warsaw, Poland. Taking an innovative approach, the company designed an effective office space with a focus on making their employees’ health and well-being a top priority, with the space becoming a ‘living lab’ test environment for cutting-edge office design.

In applying its ideas to its own environment, integrated engineering practice, Buro Happold is literally ‘putting its money where its mouth is’. The quality of the interior environment in the new office has been acknowledged by the Polish Ventilation Association which rewarded Buro Happold with the Pascal 2016 Award for their HVAC work both in the premises and the whole building.

How office space affects health and productivity

‘Health and Productivity’ is now writing a new chapter for the design of green buildings as the vast majority of real costs for any business are connected to staffing costs, including salaries and benefits, with energy and rental costs accounting for only 10%. As the quality of  environments inside buildings determine how people feel, and in turn how their health and well-being impacts their productivity at work, an office building needs to serve people. Studies reveal that employing a series of changes to improve working environments can boost productivity, in many cases directly impacting the bottom line. For example, upgraded ventilation will increase the productivity of workers by 11%[1] while better lighting can contribute to 23% gains in efficiencies[2]. Another study showed that company workers with better daylight and view took as many as 6.5% fewer sick days.[3]

Buro Happold provides solutions that are end-user oriented. Its new office is proudly being used as a showcase for health and well-being in an open-plan office environment. The innovative design incorporates the latest technologies and solutions that enhance the well-being and productivity of employees whilst minimising energy consumption.

Buro Happold sets high standards

From the outset, Buro Happold partnered with Philips Lighting, Ecophon, Halton and Carrier to develop a design that could maximise the effectiveness of the lighting, acoustics and HVAC systems. These systems are critical and the final solutions deliver outstanding acoustic performance, optimum daylighting controls and an efficient ventilation system that ensure high levels of thermal comfort throughout the year. Verification of the design and an extensive monitoring system was installed to measure and record consumption and performance parameters of all the systems. This has already been used extensively to fine-tune and improve the operation of the heating and cooling system and identify issues with unexplained energy consumption. In the coming months, we will be publishing performance and consumption data for the benefit of our clients and other designers, for example energy consumption for lighting, PCs, server room and fan coil units – all of which are metered separately. In addition, ActivTek as well as Grey Water Solutions, Hansgrohe, Koło, Geberit, Florabo2, and IMI Hydronic Engineering supported us throughout the project.

Eight ways Buro Happold created its new healthy office

For the visual comfort of the employees, the new healthy office features dimmable LED lighting with pre-programmed light level for every workstation. To enable office users to breathe clean air, Buro Happold has ensured generous volumes of fresh air supply based on CO2 concentration. For optimised temperature a highly efficient system allows for top thermal comfort with full control of temperature in 30 zones. Well connected to the city, the office is an enjoyable space with natural colours and materials. To ensure savings, water and energy consumption is extensively monitored. Also, for the sake of the budget and the environment, a significant part of the existing interior features has been re-used.

BuroHappold’s new healthy office

Here it is – Buro Happold’s new, healthy office located in the central business district of Warsaw, in a freshly renovated high-rise building. As you arrive on the sixth floor, through glass doors, you can see a welcoming, spacious reception area. The first thing that strikes you is how peaceful it is despite the open space with 120 people at work. There is just a soft, pleasant background noise. In conference rooms voices are crystal clear, but inaudible when you leave them. If you want to make a phone or a video call you can go to a ‘phone booth’. Your conversation will be perceived as perfectly neutral, without the impression of speaking from a confined space or disturbing others. For privacy or concentration, there are quiet rooms that let you work in absolute silence.

Though the office is in the middle of a bustling city, you have a feeling of breathing fresh, clean air with outdoor pollution left outside. Although the space is new, there is no hint of unpleasant odours. The office never gets stuffy. It makes you feel awake and active for the whole day. On a sunny, hot day or in freezing winter evenings, the temperature in the office is always comfortable.

Daylight enters through the full-height windows and reaches the centre of the floorplate, so the interior seems very bright, but at the same time not dazzling. When it gets dark, automatic sensors gently turn the lights on in occupied areas. The lamps give cool light in areas where you need to concentrate, and warmer light in social zones creating a more relaxing atmosphere. Your eyes feel good here and they don’t get tired.

At lunchtime you can enjoy your meal in a spacious kitchen (you can even spice it up using the herbs that grow there) and not worry about the smells of your tasty dish as extractors prevent odours from spreading. Hot drinks are made using hot water from the dispenser programmed to the precise temperature. With all necessary facilities (showers, clothes dryers) available, you feel tempted to cycle to work, or use public transport, which in this location connects you with any place in the city.

BuroHappold’s new office is not only a truly healthy environment but it also educates people and inspires them to lead a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle. The advanced metering of energy and water consumption results in higher awareness of the environmental impact of the office.

Ian Booth, Partner, Buro Happold: “When searching for the new premises we had a few objectives that we successfully managed to fulfil. First of all, we were after a space that we would be able to shape from scratch, located in the central business district with easy access to amenities. We wanted the office to showcase what Buro Happold offers its clients: technically robust, innovative and future-proof solutions.”


References:

[1],[2] Loftness, V., Hartkopf, V. and Gurtekin, B. 2003. Linking Energy to Health and Productivity in the Built Environment: Evaluating the Cost-Benefits of High Performance Building and Community Design for Sustainability, Health and Productivity. Accessed April 12 2016. http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Archive/MediaArchive/207_Loftness_PA876.pdf

[3] Elzeyadi, l. 2011. Daylighting-Bias and Biophilia: Quantifying the Impact of Daylighting on Occupant Health. Accessed April 12 2016 http://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/OR10_Daylighting%20Bias%20and%20Biophilia.pdf

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