Moving Beyond Box Ticking & Utilitarian Spaces

Try as we might, we cannot see the future. Life happens. Demands on a space constantly shift throughout the life-cycle of a building. Seasonal changes, tenant demographics, cultural trends, new technology, and improved infrastructure affect actual demands on bike parking and change rooms. That’s why embedding flexible design into facilities is one of the most crucial design decisions you can make. 

The Wishbone System is designed for flexibility so spaces can be modified easily when demand and usage fluctuates

The Flexible Locker: For whatever you need
The Wellness Space at GPT’s Melbourne Jewell, CBW

While town planning often has rigid quantity requirements, they are generally silent with regards to quality — something we are lobbying hard to fix. Focusing on quality over quantity saves both time and money for projects and maximises user experience. The issue is that doing things well usually takes up a little more space, something most projects are lacking.

Flexibility can solve a lot of these issues, helping projects to avoid building white elephants.

Ways To Create Flexibility
A Phased Approach

Phasing or staging a project is simple. Design a space that satisfies the maximum projected demand with a section you can repurpose for other functions until it is needed. Deliver the smaller footprint now, and expand to the larger area when demand requires it, taking into account any technical improvement that happens in the interim.

One Five At Heart project that nailed this approach was 22 Bishopsgate, the tallest building in London, a facility that delivered over 100 showers and 1,100 bike racks in phase one. While this may sound like a lot, this is actually under the traditional planning requirements, and for good reason. The next phase is already planned out and will more than double the capacity in the long term, but until demand catches up, that valuable space is not wasted.

Using Flexible Products

There are several reasons why facility utilisation changes over time, including changes in weather conditions, tenant demographics, trends, and so forth. Flexible products allow building owners to change with the weather and trends.

Our Wishbone system, for example, was designed to allow building owners to meet minimum bike parking requirements while also allowing a facility to be repurposed should demand decrease (say, in the wintertime in Toronto), fully maximising the efficiency of a space. The system can be installed or removed without a tradesperson on site, allowing the facility to be converted into a pilates/yoga/spin studio, or wellness space, when it’s not being used for bike parking. 

Knowing how people are going to use a space is more art than science. We recommend the nostradamus method, put more simply, make your answer broad enough to fit any question. That is where our Flexible Lockers came from! Is it for bikes? Is it for scooters? Is it for clothes? It is a Flexible Locker!

Adding Flexibility To Change Rooms

Traditional construction of rooms sets in stone the use for the room, but generally excludes more uses than it creates. Showers are the most expensive part of any facility, and demand is changing every year. Smart projects are taking this into account to embed flexibility into spaces that normally are binary.

One method is the inclusion of sliding cavity doors to give management the ability to reassign sections of the capacity to different gender groups depending on demand, which in many cities can be skewed as much as 80:20. 

Another method is allowing a small allocation of flexible shower rooms with direct access from the common areas, similar to an accessible toilet. With the help of access control, these spaces can be allocated on a first come basis or programmed to specific genders to cater for the demand needs.

And finally, whatever you do, include some lockers in the common space, they are the first stage of flexibility. They do more for locker waiting lists than any other treatment.

Pooling Demands For A Portfolio Of Buildings

In cities with strict height controls such as Washington D.C. or London, you get huge portfolios of small scale buildings. Delivering top quality facilities under such conditions is challenging as the project size gets too small. Progressive owners have tackled this problem by pooling the demand within local areas and creating mobility hubs for multiple sites in single locations. 

Cavity Slider: Flexibility at the turn of a key
Unisex Showers: the ultimate in flexibility

Enjoyed this? Reach out to our team to learn more, ask us anything, or if you just want to chat.

Read Part 2 here or download The Global Trends Doc here