The floating office pods named Enclaves are the beginning of the post-covid era in architecture. Designed by Agnieszka Białek, the founder of Monolight Studio, it is set to be afloat on the Vistula River in Cracow, Poland, where Agnieszka grew up and graduated. Walking along the river has been an integral part of her experience of her pandemic routine and hence, she draws inspiration for the project from there. (Tuvie, n.d.)
It has been over a year of the digital nomad-style life that the pandemic induced upon us. While complete lockdown forced people to work within the confined walls of their houses, the flexibility in regulations since then allowed for people to work remotely from elsewhere. According to USPS data, over 15.9 million people moved to different states during 2020. (MYMOVE, n.d.)
The pandemic has changed the dynamic of the workspace across the world. Several companies like Google are implementing working policies that would henceforth allow employees to work from home for a few weeks in a year. This creates the opportunity for people to work in more stimulating and relaxing environments and brings about a new perception of co-working spaces. (BBC News, n.d.)
The fundamental purpose of office space is to be able to interact and coordinate with others. Working from home has blurred the lines between work and home and the work-life balance has gone for a toss which has affected the mental health of already strained minds of dealing with a pandemic.
Understanding and responding to this scenario, Agnieszka Białek proposed floating office pods as an alternative to remote working by providing a flexible and safe workspace for people. It not only provides for privacy, and personal space, the location of the project being afloat on the river surrounded by natural beauty helps comfort and stimulate the pandemic-induced fatigued mind.
The project is intended to be open throughout the day and night and would be regulated by an hourly booking system. To maintain the ecological dimension, as well as the added security of social distancing, the pods are only accessible by a kayak.
Design and Concept
The project drifts near Wawel Castle, the symbol of the city of Cracow. The contemporary form is a refreshing style from the centuries-old kings’ habitat. The design process was driven by ecological values by allowing the coexistence of nature and architecture. The pods allow for a change in their location of the river and pay attention to the need for distance and empty spaces in a post-covid reality.
The river foam shapes have been the main inspiration for the geometric form of the pods. She drew inspiration for the organization and structural system from floating lilies and their room system. The pods on top of the fragments forming circulation routes mimic the flower perched upon the floating leaves. These pods consist of enclaves that are part of interconnected cells. The enclave is hence a private workspace installed on a platform on which it rests and floats which is then anchored to the river bed and each other. (Behance, n.d.)
Agnieszka Białek believes that there is a pressing need to minimize the number of elements of our environment and hence the oval form introduced for the interiors is intended to evoke a positive stimulus, and a focused environment. (Behance, n.d.)
Material and Details
The structure uses the latest technologies and methods of designing through 3D modeling and could be 3D printed using waterproof, recyclable materials that could be assembled and erected within a few days. (Behance, n.d.)
Remote working would probably become the norm for most companies and would continue for a long time to come. This implies that employees would be able to choose and formulate their work environment. While this project is still a conceptual idea, it is an interesting beginning of understanding how the pandemic will impact architecture.
The traditional concept of going to an office has evolved into the concept of a portable office where one can work anywhere—including above water. The pandemic has forced us to relook and redefine not only workspaces but all public and private spheres of our lives.
Tuvie.com. n.d. Floating Co-Working Space Concept on Vistula River for Post-Covid19 World – Tuvie. [online] Available at: <https://www.tuvie.com/floating-co-working-space-concept-on-vistula-river-for-post-covid19-world/> [Accessed 26 May 2021].
MYMOVE. n.d. Coronavirus Moving Study Shows More Than 15.9 Million People Moved During COVID-19 | MYMOVE. [online] Available at: <https://www.mymove.com/moving/covid-19/coronavirus-moving-trends/> [Accessed 26 May 2021].
BBC News. n.d. Google rejigs remote working as it reopens offices. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56598933#:~:text=Google%20is%20changing%20its%20work,if%20they%20apply%20for%20it.> [Accessed 26 May 2021].
Behance.net. n.d. Behance. [online] Available at: <https://www.behance.net/gallery/116664861/Enclaves-on-Vistula-river-Co-working-in-pandemic> [Accessed 26 May 2021].