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Azure Magazine's May June 2023 Issue on Workplace Futures

“No one comes back to the office just for a desk.” That’s how David Allemann, co-founder of the leading Swiss athletic apparel company On, encapsulates the growing requirement to provide employees with an alluring environment. The expectation that people will keep their heads down at their workstations from nine to five with the occasional jaunt to the water cooler or sojourn in a group meeting has gone the way of the cubicle. Offices, post-lockdown, need to be places that provide mental and spiritual sustenance. And those featured in this issue do exactly that. We refer to them as “work-slash” settings, as in work-slash-culture and work-slash-well-being, because they have higher callings than simply being places where things get done.


At On’s new Zurich headquarters, for example, the design team, which included the brand itself along with Specific Generic and architecture firm Spillmann Echsle, imagined the circulation route — a series of spiral staircases that lead all the way up to the 17th floor — as a trail along which employees could hike or jog. At Universal Music Canada, which just set up its flagship in Toronto’s Liberty Village, Superkül infused a cultural connection to the neighbourhood and among employees directly into the scheme via a community-facing street level (which includes an open-to-the-public coffee shop) and an interior that emphasizes discovery. And at Interbank’s Lima headquarters, WORKac took an empty and uninspiring ground floor and transformed it into a piazza surrounded by a variety of casual meeting zones in which the financial institution can host visitors from its various branches.


The dynamics that play out inside offices are just as important as the spaces themselves. In “Return to Office,” Toronto photographer Jon Laytner trains his lens on how people actually interact in these managed settings. What’s surprising, beyond the sheer variety of modes in which we produce work, is how we seem collectively beholden to certain behaviours and tendencies that can never be designed away — signified by the prevalence of the desk, the computer and the accoutrements that get tangled up around them. At a time when A.I. is hovering on the cusp of coming for our jobs, there’s a comfort in seeing how wonderfully messy humans can be.


State of the Union

We revisit the drive to unionize the architecture profession a year after we published the cover story “Counter Culture” (May/June 2022).

Health & Wellness

This issue’s Spotlight is all about healing – with features on both completed projects and products as well as inspiring concepts.

Code Red

The river-facing facade of the red house by Claesson Koivisto Rune, with its juxtaposed windows, resembles a box.

In Sweden, Claesson Koivisto Rune manipulate a site’s constraints to create a one-of-a-kind home.

Rapunzel World

In Germany, Rapunzel World includes a peaked tower the mimics the character's lookout. It's shown here in winter, covered in snow.

An organic food company in Bavaria inaugurates a visitors’ centre that is the stuff of fairy tales.

Out Now: Our May/June 2023 Issue on Workplace Futures

Universal Music Canada’s Toronto HQ, On’s Zurich hub, Interbank’s Lima locale and more – plus, an update on architecture work culture and a Spotlight on health and wellness design.

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