The post-pandemic office: a thought leadership series for WSP

At the beginning of April 2020, with many of the world’s offices deserted, I began a weekly thought leadership series for WSP about how Covid-19 would transform the knowledge workplace. It ran to eight features – almost 17,000 words – on everything from the cultural impact of physical distancing to virus-proofing the office environment, to whether companies will still bother having their own premises and what would make people want to go there when they are all set up to work from home. The articles appeared on WSP’s Insights page, as well as The Possible microsite, and they were widely shared on social media and republished elsewhere.

As a long-term homeworker, one of the most striking transformations so far is the overnight switch to video calls. To compile the series, I interviewed 50+ experts, getting a glimpse of a dizzying variety of living rooms, spare rooms, home offices and gardens across Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Click the images below to read each article. Graphics by Sam Jenkins at Supermassive Creative.

The future of healthcare

I wrote an 18-page special on the future of healthcare for the latest issue of The Possible, the magazine that my company Wordmule produces for WSP.

As the research spanned many months, it’s a strange hybrid of pre and post-Covid concerns – a stark reminder that pandemics are just one of the many heightened threats facing humanity over the coming decades.

The Possible issue 06

We’ve just published issue 06 of The Possible, a magazine about the future of cities that my company Wordmule produces on behalf of global engineering firm WSP. And although much of the content was finalised before Covid-19 struck, the topics it covers remain just as relevant: the spread of the disease and its impact on different communities has been directly influenced by the way our cities are governed, the quality of the spaces we inhabit and the air we breathe.

This issue explores the future of healthcare in an age when pandemics are just one of the growing threats to humanity, and looks at the ways in which urban designers can deploy “nudge theory” to encourage healthier behaviours – just how far should we go? Our future health will be increasingly about data too. The mind-bogglingly enormous quantities generated by smart city technologies will be invaluable for creating healthier, more resilient places – but only if it is accessible to us, rather than hoarded and monetised by tech companies. So we have an in-depth feature about the vital but under-explored topic of data governance.

There are some inspiring solutions too: planned properly, micromobility could replace cars and plug gaps in public transit systems to bring about permanently clearer skies and more equal streets. And I love Nick Rose’s vision of how urban agriculture could deliver a secure, sustainable source of food, while making cities greener, more pleasant places to live.

Of course, climate change will continue to exert a major pressure on population health over the years, decades, centuries to come. The embodied carbon in buildings can account for one-third or more of their total greenhouse gas emissions, so we urgently need to get to grips with that too. We have a 12-page article about what we know, what we don’t and what designers can do to make a meaningful contribution to the fight against climate change.

All with a beautiful, slightly refreshed design by Sam Jenkins at Supermassive Creative and a hand-drawn cover by Aistė Stancikaitė.

The Possible issue 05

It’s here: issue 05 of The Possible, the thought leadership magazine that my company Wordmule produces for WSP.

In this issue: solutions for tackling urban air pollution, experiencing the future of entertainment, making space for nature in cities, and plugging the smartphone brain drain.

The future of airports

The latest in my series of infographic opuses on the future of the built environment. This time, it’s about airports: how they’re expanding, how they’re being automated, how they’re becoming cities in their own right – and how urban aviation could very soon make cities themselves more like airports.

This was published in issue 04 of The Possible, the thought leadership magazine I edit for WSP, and as a standalone A4 booklet too.

See also: shopping districts, education and the office.

The Possible issue 04

We’ve just published issue 04 of The Possible, the thought leadership magazine that my company Wordmule produces for the global engineering company WSP.

In this issue: making cities resilient to terrorist attacks, and to climate change, a bird’s eye view of the future of airports, the lost art of drawing makes a comeback, and how we change things just by measuring them.

Factories for creativity

Every day millions of people around the world go to one place: the office. Why? Technology has freed knowledge workers from the commute and the cubicle, and no one has their best ideas at their desk – and we’ll all be replaced by robots soon anyway. But the office continues to occupy a hallowed place in the corporate mindset and, if anything, a company’s premises are becoming even more essential to its identity and culture. In this article for issue 03 of The Possible, the thought leadership magazine that my company Wordmule produces for WSP, I explored the future of the workplace in an AI era.

The Possible issue 03

Out now: the latest issue of The Possible, the 72-page thought leadership magazine that my company Wordmule produces for global engineering company WSP. I plan, commission, write and edit the content; my partner Nick Jones takes care of production, and the design is by our long-time collaborator Sam Jenkins at Supermassive. Cover artwork by Noma Bar.

In this issue: the pursuit of wellness, the future of the workplace, how digital modelling is changing building design, gender equality in architecture, and what on earth are humans going to do when robots can outperform us at our jobs?

Cover of The Possible issue 03

“They looked at me, flabbergasted. They said ‘we never do anything for an entire afternoon’”

Education is a booming sector, thanks to a growing global population with a thirst for knowledge. But how can today’s schools and universities prepare for a world that doesn’t yet exist? In the latest issue of The Possible, the thought leadership magazine my company Wordmule produces for WSP, I compiled this 14-page infographic feature on the many challenges that the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents to educators around the world. What should next-generation learning spaces look like, how can we pay for a transformation on this scale, and how do you teach a digital native anything when they can just Google it?

The Possible 02: the second issue of our thought leadership magazine for WSP

We’ve just published the second issue of The Possible, the thought leadership magazine that my company, Wordmule, produces for global engineering firm WSP.

The Possible 02 cover

The Possible is about the future of buildings and cities and the ideas and innovations that can help them function better. In this issue we explore the limits on city density, the future of education, next-generation construction materials and whether we’ll ever be able to design a totally recyclable building. Chicago architect Gordon Gill, designer of the 1km-tall Kingdom Tower, talks about his responsibilities and regrets, and psychologist Naomi Shragai investigates what’s really happening when project teams collaborate. In our Connected Thinking section, contributors contemplate how drones will shape development in Africa, the seismic threat to Asia’s megacities, hospital design in a post-antibiotic world, how architects can ensure the wellbeing of site workers thousands of miles away, and why engineers should read more philosophy. It was designed by Supermassive and the cover illustration is by Noma Bar