Welcome to the office of the future, where chairs and tables are replaced by rocks and boulders that let you to rethink the way you interact with your environment. Developed by Amsterdam-based studio, RAAAF, the prototype actually integrates an extremely minimalist and futuristic design into a dynamic workspace that in turn allows a range of actions and postures. Aptly called “The End of Sitting”, this ingenious office design strives to debunk the common misconception regarding the relation between sitting and productivity.
According to several recent studies, prolonged periods of sitting, as is common among office-goers, actually causes substantial increase in one’s risk of developing serious health issues like diabetes, cancer, heart problems, obesity and so on. One such study shows that sitting for more than 2 hours raises one’s susceptibility towards colon cancer by 8-percent; endometrial cancer by 10-percent and that of lung cancer by 6-percent. In an attempt to do away with the evils of passive sitting, Netherlands’ Chief Government Architect invited local design firms to develop the blueprints of an office that encourages a more active lifestyle.
Enter RAAAF and its team, headed by co-founder Ronald Rietveld. The prototype, created by the company, re-imagines the office as a dynamic space that engages more of the human body than just the brain. Instead of conventional furniture, the space features a network of rocks and boulders against which one can lean. For the project, the developers had to study and analyze different types of body postures, while at the same time ruling out the ones that are only apparently comfortable. It was after long and thorough research that the team could finally translate the various poses onto the blueprint. Speaking about “The End of Sitting”, Rietveld said:
Our whole society is based on sitting—sitting in traffic, sitting in school if you’re a child. If you are a child, the first punishment is to stand in the corner of the classroom. It actually all starts really early… We said, what if we could create a work environment which is not based on tables and chairs anymore [and] we don’t think in these archetypes, but in terms of activities?
Inspired by the concept of supported standing, preferably with a flat surface to lean against, the team included a multitude of smooth boulders and angled frames into the workspace. It is designed such that the worker can move around freely, and can even rest against these leaning spots without inducing fatigue. Currently exhibited at Amsterdam’s Looiersgracht 60 gallery, the prototype was actually developed by the RAAAF team, with the help of a Dutch artist named Barbara Visser. Rietveld said:
We wanted to create not just furniture, but new ways of working actively on the scale of the whole working environment… It’s the opposite of the office chair, which evolved to be a kind of monster over time, and is forcing you to sit eight hours in the same way every day.
In order to determine the efficacy of the room in promoting a healthier and more active way of life, the firm enlisted the help of a group of University of Groningen scientists. According to RAAAF, the results of the study, which will be published this coming spring, show that after an entire workday, the employees are significantly more energetic and stress-free than in case of traditional offices. The company’s spokesperson said:
What seems to be a result is that after a day of working, people are more active in their head, but more tired in their body. And that’s actually what it’s all about—the main goal is to actually put more pressure on your legs during the day, and take different positions. That’s what sitting is not doing.
Although the project is still in its nascent stage, the team is hopeful that “The End of Sitting” prototype will redefine the way we perceive the concepts of workspace and productivity. To all the questions raised by people regarding the feasibility of the design, Rietveld said:
We are not actually focusing on rocks taking over the world or something. It’s a thinking model. That’s the way we work as a studio—we try to work on the border of architecture, art and science, to come up with new ways of thinking rather than solving all of the world’s problems. It’s really focusing you to think in a different way.
To know about RAAAF and “The End of Sitting”, click here.