Clive Wilkinson suggests "carpet bombing" London with a co-working office in the sky

| 27 comments

LA-based architect Clive Wilkinson has drawn up conceptual plans for a giant shared office that would hover above London, enabling people to simply walk upstairs to their mobile workplace.

The Endless Workplace proposal was developed for Flaunt magazine, which commissioned the firm to "imagine an architectural cross-pollination of the two very separate and unique cultural milieus of California and London".

Endless Workplace by Clive Wilkinson

Clive Wilkinson has designed a number of high-profile office projects, including Google's Silicon Valley headquarters, for which he convinced the company to abandon the standard cubicle. "Cubicles are the worst – like chicken farming," he told Dezeen in an interview last year. "They are humiliating, disenfranchising and isolating."

For the Endless Workplace scheme, Wilkinson sought to offer a solution to escalating commute times.

"From our sun-bleached Californian point of view, we chose to investigate the current systemic problems of London, which has become almost paralysed by the clogged arteries of the city, with the consequent debilitating commute times for its workers," said Wilkinson.



Increasingly, people are spending up to four hours to get to and from work each day.

"The underground rail system is overloaded and prone to frequent system failures, the roads are almost grid-locked, and escalating land prices have compelled the workforce to live further and further away from their workplaces," the architect said.

Endless Workplace by Clive Wilkinson

His concept challenges the notion that a company's staff needs to be based in the same office, particularly given that technological advancements now support new ways of working.

"Our theoretical proposal was to 'carpet bomb' the city with a new type of workplace in a single, horizontally connected level," he said.

"The proposition imagines a mobile work mode where anyone can work anywhere, since technology now supports that, and so workers living in the existing infrastructure below can simply 'go upstairs to the office'."

Endless Workplace by Clive Wilkinson

The elevated workplace would feature an open plan with desks and other office amenities, along with a multitude of small parks. It would accommodate workers from both established companies and startups.

The concept not only eliminates commute times and reduces carbon emissions from cars, but also helps avoid the "numbing isolation of working at home".

"You are essentially in an endless co-working space, and will develop relationships with coworkers from different disciplines, ideally forming village-like communities," Wilkinson told Dezeen. "In that sense, it is very sociable."

"With this concept, one recovers something of the medieval model of collaborating with multiple disciplines in your local village and leveraging the healthy cross-pollination aspects of that," he added.

Endless Workplace by Clive Wilkinson

The concept further suggests that our existing urban models might be ill-suited for the "technologically liberated future".

"It may be a more invasive form of surgery that ultimately delivers new opportunities to spend time on things that we value," he said.

"We believe that limited examples of this idea are already in gestation," Wilkinson added. "And indeed, forms of the idea will evolve over time, as the mobility that technology now supports becomes the norm and creates new forms of urban living."

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Clive Wilkinson founded his eponymous firm in 1991 in Los Angeles. Well known for its progressive office designs, the studio is currently exploring new strategies for congregating workers.

"Many of these schemes look intensively at privacy within the community – how to both concentrate individually and, at the same time, engage with one’s tribe," said Wilksinson.

Recent projects by his studio include the West Hollywood offices for the video production company Funny or Die and the California headquarters of Fox Head Inc, a motorcross apparel company.

Images are by Humberto Arreola.

  • SM

    Rule #1, never say bomb in architecture.

    • Jess Thinkin

      Or when describing anything architectural in London.

  • James

    Carpet bombing seems like quite a troubling approach to anything. I mean, we do get 20 holiday days a year as opposed to their 10, but this is a rather drastic way of telling us to get back into the damn office.

    I don’t feel that London, or any city, would benefit from such an environment. I’ll file this under the heading of “provocative statement and PR” for now – or a rather excoriate critique of LA, perhaps.

  • dave brubeck

    Tragic. I would prefer to spend 12 hours commuting every day if it meant I didn’t have to live in complete darkness under this simplistically stupid idea. The Dezeen editors really love CJ Lim, I’ll give you that.

  • Jordan

    And contain the pollution and emissions from cars between the ground and office, that would certainly improve air quality.

  • Hej!

    This could be better if proposed for new suburbs in China and India.

  • Jef Zaborski

    Wow, an even more idiotic invocation of the concept of ‘carpet-bombing,’ than that of Ted Cruz. At least here the historical analogy is helpful in understanding the nature of the proposal: the deaths of thousands resulting from a totalitarian vision.

    Which is preferable, quick death from above, or the slow agony of architecture-induced depression and Vitamin A deficiency? The Nazis did it the old fashioned way and on the cheap compared to this techno-utopian nightmare. While it’s not worth taking these things too seriously, I just feel bad for the army of interns who worked on this garbage and have to show this in their portfolios, and unlearn this pointless exercise.

  • Por Mexico

    Initially such proposal/rendering could be assimilated to an aggressive membrane suffocating the patient it intends to cure.

  • Durgen Jensen

    Why not just have all the workers teleport to work instead of taking the train? Or slow down time between 06:00 – 10:00am but keep the train moving at regular speed so the commute doesn’t take up as much of your day?

    Either of those things are just as likely to happen as this concept.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Yawn.

  • nick

    Turn the shadows on and see why this is a bloody awful idea.

  • K

    OK, so what about the shadow?

  • Bill

    The streets in the sky thing didn’t work out in the 60s either.

  • Archi-Nerd

    I don’t mind the playfulness of the proposal, I just wish it enhanced the existing city instead of shrouding it in eternal darkness. Also, I’m not familiar with London’s layout, but it seems like if you want to reduce commute times, the intervention should take place more at the periphery where people are commuting “from” rather than the already dense city centre? Seems like this would make the commute problem worse?

  • Marsellus W.

    The 60s just called, they want their Archigram back.

  • Archigram called. They’d like their concept returned.

  • morgan

    This is a dystopian vision isn’t it?

  • Mr J

    Yikes, no sunshine at ground level?!

  • Looks like the ‘fog of were’.

  • Jess Thinkin

    I can see the headlines now, “Concrete Ooze Devours London – and Appears to Be Spreading” Blimey!

  • Evelyn Froend

    I’m pretty sure trees need sunlight to survive.

  • As I fly in from Surrey in my private helicopter, I enjoy what it looks like from the air. When I pop out form the office to get a coffee from the barista just round the corner and down the alleyway, I freeze to death. London becomes one giant pedestrian underpass, great if you happen to be homeless in winter, I suppose.

  • Greg Tingey

    This is about as intelligent as the idiot proposal to replace the Circle line with a travolator – maybe even worse. What happens to people in the shadow of this monstrosity?

  • Who will have granted access to sunlight?

  • Aaron

    Wow, some commentators really struggle with the notion of ‘conceptual’. It’s not meant to be a pragmatic solution. If you can get past banal pragmatism there are some interesting ideas here: local work communities where you’re sharing workspace with neighbours in different disciplines rather than being lumped with immediate colleagues; the city as a co-working space where you can use facilities as you need them, etc.

    My main problem with it is captured in the title: the Endless Workplace. If the project’s dystopian it’s not due to overshadowing, but the idea that our entire environment and the meaning of our lives is reconfigured around work. This is something that is already in play by the kinds of technology companies that employ people like Wilkinson to make them hipster offices.

  • peter

    I bet that was fun to make. Very imaginative. But no thanks, says every single person in London.

  • peter

    I feel the same way about this as I would if a ‘visionary’ came up with a plan to totally wreck my house. Get your bloody visions away from my city!