What makes an office smart?
Office smartness is popularly thought to come from cutting-edge technology from smart gadgets that contributes to workers’ comfort levels and productivity.
However, “the smartness quotient of an office building starts with the base architectural design and, in particular, the design of its core and external skin,” explains Rahul Kumar, Principal Architect, Rajinder Kumar & Associates (RKA). “It is pointless to design inappropriately and expect technology to fill in lacunae such as the incorrect positioning of lifts or too many incorrectly placed corridors that impede contact and collaboration between people. Tech-enabled or tech-supporting furniture that contributes to worker wellness and technology that unifies electromechanical services on one platform for better monitoring and employee comfort follows accurate design.”
One of the key design objectives in smart offices with large floor plates, say 40,000-50,000 sq ft, is to build in flexibility so that the space can suit the needs of different occupants who occupy the building over its lifecycle, adds Kumar. How to create smaller communities is another challenge, as is creating collaborative spaces for people to come together. At the Punjab National Bank building in Dwarka, New Delhi, an RKA project, an atrium with natural ventilation serves as a breakout area and a great place to meet and collaborate.
Technology can help the dynamic allocation of office space. For instance, Schneider Electric offers a solution that uses traffic and occupancy data to monitor the utilisation of available spaces. If a demand for more space arises, the asset manager can rely on the solution to figure out if it is justified, and how it can be managed within the existing resources.
‘Enlighted’, a range of software-defined smart sensors from Siemens, collects and monitors real-time occupancy, light levels, temperature and energy usage. “Data collected from thousands of data points yields real-time intelligence, with which facility managers can reconfigure and adapt space to optimise use and address changing user needs,” elaborates Devidas Kulkarni, Head, Regional Solutions & Services, Smart Infrastructure, Siemens India.
- CHARU BAHRI