During our latest Live Judging Session, four members of our March jury discussed why workspaces should focus on face-time, how retail can surpass its transactional past, what role communal areas play in housing, and which qualities make for a successful hotel.

Work: Face-time first 

'Moving forward, workplaces need to be extremely compelling,’ said Nasim Köerting, head of design at The Office Group (TOG). 'People no longer have to come into the office, so if they do it, it needs to be for a great reason. It’s up to the design world to push what the office is and can provide in order to bring people back. For employees returning to the office it will be about meaningful interactions with colleagues and their work.

Caro Lundin, co-founder and creative director of ARC Club, added that 'pre-pandemic, the discussion was about creating smart offices with big breakout spaces, while now it’s about agility'. 'We might only use the office twice a week and will do so for face-time. Companies will have to start looking at the hospitality industry and co-working spaces should think about offering more flexible forms of membership. If the virus is here to stay and might return every year, we have to become less rigorous in the way we design our offices.’

Ura – Landscape, a retail window display by JA! Studio earned a March honourable mention. 'There is a beautiful frugality about this proposal, which is so conceptually accomplished that it didn't require any more material than what they used,' commented Mahindroo. Photos: Jose Luis Lopez de Zubiria

Retail: Interaction over transaction

'Retail changed drastically and will need to be reinvented from scratch,’ said Sergio Mannino, founder of Sergio Mannino Studio. ‘Even the language used to describe it. "Store" implies that you are storing merchandise in an environment for people to come and buy. That’s no longer the case, as people buy in many different ways. The store is no longer a point of sale but rather a place where people interact with the brand and the way we design stores needs to reflect that. What’s going to be very important in the next few years is what brands represent, and finding ways to communicate those brand values through space.’  

Breathe Architecture, DKO and Oculus’s co-living complex Arkadia in Australia comprises 152 homes and is a work rooted in ‘community and sustainability’. Photos: Tom Ross

Living: Prioritizing community

‘The attention given to communal areas can raise the bar of co-living spaces,’ said Lundin. 'In most housing projects, focusing on the shared areas would be considered an excess that developers can’t usually afford. But if common areas become spaces where communities can truly come together, they can make residents co-live much more effectively.’

Amrita Mahindroo, director of DROO  - Da Costa Mahindroo Architects, stressed the importance of creating spaces that are socially sustainable. ‘When talking about sustainability we tend to think about materials or the functionality and operational health of a building, but there is also a form of sustainability relevant to the social health of a building – how people are actually benefiting from being within these spaces,’ she explained. 'As we spend so much time inside buildings, there’s growing awareness and consideration of this social sustainability in design.'

The March Interior of the Month winner, Capsule Hostel and Bookstore Qinglongwu by Atelier Tao+C, combines two unexpected typologies: a capsule hostel and community library. Photos: Shengliang Su

Hospitality: Providing portals

'Hospitality at its best is an entirely immersive, fantastical experience,’ said Mahindroo. 'If you are going somewhere you want to feel like you are somewhere else, not in a replication of your domestic environment. You want to experience a hotel with all the theatre that it comes with.’

Köerting agreed. ‘We all need this level of escapism, going to somewhere that just takes you to another place with a sense of discovery, wonder and awe. A really great hotel transports you to somewhere else, even when it’s in the same city that you're living in.’ 

Watch the full Live Judging Session here: