Floorplate Shapes and Office Layouts: A Model of the Effect of Floorplate Shape on Circulation Integration
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This thesis proposes a model of understanding the constraining effect of floorplates on the integration of office layouts. The proposed model is based on the analysis of floorplates and layouts which is simultaneously configurational, global and robust. The study departs from two observations: first, there is a difference between the lifespan of shells and layouts; second, shells influence but do not determine the layouts than can be accommodated in them. The thesis proposes two descriptions of shape which gauge their compactness and convex fragmentation based on configurational relations among modular units of shape. Shapes of actual floorplates are described according to the proposed measures leading to a typology of office buildings. The space syntax research on workspaces has demonstrated that the integration of layout circulation affects the patterns of movement, encounter and interaction, which are linked to organizational performance. Actual layouts are described according to skewness and density of connectivity of linear maps leading to three alternative types of office layouts: sparse grids, dense grids and fishbones. Two ideal layouts of grids and fishbones, extracted from the typology, reflect opposing ways of increasing the layout integration and best represent open-plan layouts. Experiments with hypothetical grids and fishbones generated systematically on theoretical shapes demonstrate strong but differing effects of shape on layout integration. These are subsequently confirmed by the analysis of hypothetical grids and fishbones generated into a large sample of actual office buildings in the US. The relationship between floorplate shape and layout is mediated by the generative principle applied to the generation of layout. There exists an underlying congruence between a morphological typology of layouts (which distinguishes between fishbone and grid as alternative principles for increasing integration) and a morphological typology of shapes (which distinguishes between more compact and convexly unified shapes and shapes with wings). The findings highlight the distinction between constraint and determination. Floorplate shapes exercise underlying constraints upon the layout integration but they do not determine it. The proposed model enhances the evaluation of existing building portfolios for their suitability for different types of office layouts and aids the design and planning of new work environments.