E N V I S I O N I N G W O R K
An Autism Friendly and Anxiety Free Office
ANXIETY FREE OFFICE
There are a lot of people experiencing anxiety at work. According to Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 40% of employees experience persistent excessive anxiety in their daily lives, and people on the spectrum are being affected by anxiety the most. It is important to create a supportive office environment for both people on the spectrum and those who have other forms of anxiety at work. By using design strategies that were proven and experimental, I will create a system that can be apply to any type of buildings to make an office ASD friendly, and a set of toolkit focus on productivity, privacy, and flexibility.
Personal space is very important for people on the spectrum. When there are a great number of people working in the same space, people on the spectrum tend to want to escape because they are losing their personal space. Noise is also an issue of having too much people working in one space. An autism friendly office should give people on the spectrum opportunities to be able to work by themselves in a closed space.
It is important to avoid long, narrow corridors because people on the spectrum don't feel secured when they are walking through long corridors. Instead of having rooms placed by walls, place them in different directions to avoid long corridors. Be careful when designing short corridors, as sometimes too much corridors may make the room look like a puzzle and people will get confused.
Avoid sharp corners. People on the spectrum prefer smooth and curvy corners. Sharp corners will be unpredictable for them and make them feel unsafe because they might jump into someone on the other side of the wall.
When designing an ASD friendly office, it is important to provide what people on the spectrum needs. For instance, a lot of people on the spectrum need their private working space, so make sure there are rooms for private working. In addition, short corridors, simple circulations, curved walls, and opposite entrance are preferred for an ASD friendly office.
Put entrance on two different sides of rooms so people will not feel that they are working next to a room that someone else is working in. This will also avoid any accident of jumping into other people when they come out of the room at the same time.
Circulation needs to be simple. Complicated circulation and make people on the spectrum feel puzzled. The circulation system should be clear and organic, making people feel comfortable without getting lost.
A FRIENDLY OFFICE SYSTEM FOR ANY TYPE OF BUILDING
An office’s interior configurations has a great impact on employees’ performance. It is important to create a supportive office environment for both people on the spectrum and those who have other forms of anxiety at work. The key to an autism friendly and anxiety free office is balance. The space will be divided in a way to create a balance between working and relaxing, private and open, as well as light and shade. Focusing on productivity, privacy, and flexibility, I will create a system that can be applied to any type of building to make an office ASD friendly. The system provides employees the personal space they need, and at the same time it encourages employees to communicate. The proposed site is located in Laodaowai District, Harbin, China, and the existing site conditions are not ideal for people on the spectrum for their work performance. The site will be an example of how the autism friendly system can be applied to any type of building, even one in a problematic setting.
Starting with the first floor, insert the curved structure to the space. The space is then divided into different sections by the inserted structure. The indoor structure becomes working desks, and the outdoor structure becomes outdoor seating.
Extrude the negative space from first floor, extrude them, and they become individual rooms.
The building is located in the middle of two busy streets. There are a lot of noise coming from the two streets to the building. Especially in the morning and afternoon during the high traffic period.
A huge amount of morning and afternoon light is coming in to the building. Introducing natural light is very import, but when designing an ASD friendly environment, too much natural light could be a problem.
Currently the selected building is unoccupied and is being protected as a historical building. The glass of the building were removed, and building only have the shell left.
Privacy is very important in offices. There are rooms for people to eat and work privately, as well as escape rooms for people to take a break. The bamboo being planted inside the building helps to create privacy between each working areas, as well as privacy between indoor and outdoor.
By introducing the curved inserted structure into the building, the space is divided into different sections. The long corridors have been divided into smaller and curvy corridors. The circulation became organic and smooth, at the same time as simple as it can be so that people won’t get lost in the building.
There are a lot of ways of working in this office. One can choose to work with others in an open office area, work in small groups in a closed room, work on their own in a closed and quiet room, or work outside by the garden. Because writing is one of the most comfortable ways for people on the spectrum to communicate, there are several rooms where people can write on the boards attached to the wall. There are also brainstorming areas for people who want to write and be alone.