Setting the perfect temperature for the office environment can be near-on impossible, because what some people find ideal others find to be too hot or cold. Ensuring that the warmth of the room suits those inside it is important to maintain concentration and ensure productivity, but it has always been a struggle to please everyone. We’ve looked before at chairs developed for temperature control and the benefits they play in reducing disputes in the office, but now we’ve learned of something even more advanced.

Img: Carlo Ratti Associati
Italian architect Carlo Ratti has unveiled his new design for the Agnelli Foundation in Turin which revolutionises the way that temperature is controlled in the office through the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Thanks to the establishment of several hundred Wifi-enabled sensors, employees are able to work in their own “environmental bubble” that can set to their individual preferences in terms of heat and lighting.

The system works by sourcing relevant data from the room, including occupancy, temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, and then adjusting the area around each individual or group of people to fit their needs. These bubbles follow employees from room to room, keeping them at an optimum level for working and ensuring that there are never any arguments over the temperature in the office. This is a fairly important new development given that differences over temperature have previously been identified as the biggest source of work frustration.

When talking about his latest project, Ratti referred to his new design as being vital for retaining the office environment in the digital age. He said that human interaction is the biggest draw for people to come into work as opposed to doing everything from home; therefore the office needs to be suited to their needs in order to keep them productive. He believes that:

“By seamlessly integrating digital technologies within the physical space, we can forge better relationships between people and with the building they inhabit, ultimately fostering interaction and creativity. This is what we call Office 3.0. It’s a vision that overcomes the limitations of the pre-Internet spaces as well as the alienating isolation of tele-working.”

Ratti’s new design shows that this IoT technology can be applied to all sorts of buildings, whether they’re newly constructed or not. The Agnelli Foundation’s structure is an early 20th Century villa house that has been completely refurbished to an ultra-modern standard, meaning there’s potential for similarly aged buildings to be transformed and fitted with this advanced technology.

While it may take a while for such developments to branch out into mainstream use, the presence of this innovative design is an incredible step in removing the hassle of temperature control in the office.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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