New hubs

Office kit turns empty spaces into work stations

The kit can be adapted for specific needs

A new-style portable office has been developed which could be used to transform unused public spaces – such as shopping centre units – into out-of-town hubs.

The timber-based kits have been designed in various shapes and sizes to be installed in community spaces as part of the NearHome project in response to changing working patterns.

A toolkit including the plans will be made available to businesses and construction firms.

The project, supported by £250,000 in Scottish Government funding, is designed to align with the emerging 20-minute neighbourhood approach to city planning that has gained momentum during the pandemic.

It will also offer a solution for buildings that previously may have been considered too difficult or costly to retrofit.

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Sustainability is also a core element of the design, with a kit made from Scottish timber that can be easily deconstructed and re-used if required. Increased use of homegrown timber – across all areas of construction – could have a significant impact on the sector’s carbon footprint by reducing the reliance on imported materials and making the most of natural resources.

Lynsey Brydson, innovation manager at Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), said: “Covid-19 has caused a significant shift in working patterns and this approach to office design could be transformational in providing commuters with an alternative to heading into the city centre for work.

“Retrofitting is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to improving the carbon footprint of our built environment, but this sustainable approach is designed with low carbon materials and can be applied to older or unused buildings which would typically not be considered for office space.

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