The Psychology behind Designing Corporate Spaces

Let’s be honest, designing corporate spaces is all about the bottom line. Traditionally companies would save money by buying the cheapest furniture possible – in bulk – and arranging it in an assembly line fashion to accommodate the largest amount of workers in the tightest space.

However, corporations are quickly discovering that this type of office configuration has a profoundly negative effect on worker performance. Research has also shown them that, by banishing the traditional model, their employees will work more productively and ultimately generate a greater profit.

The article below details the psychological effects behind these changes. Take a look at their effects, as well as the big name companies who have benefited doing a little rearranging. You may even find yourself changing your own workspace up a bit.

Psychology students at the University of Exeter put that theory to the test when they studied a local corporation. They divided the workers into four groups: one group was not allowed to personalize their cubicles at all, one that was allowed to decorate walls without reconfiguring furniture, one allowed to reconfigure however they pleased, and a final group that was given the freedom to decorate but eventually forced to conform to rules.

Unsurprising, the group that was able to reconfigure their cubicles however they wished showed the most positive outcome. They reported improved concentration, ambiance, organization, and productivity.


Optimization of Indian building design using genetic algorithm
 Sep 20, 2015  


The energy performance of a building depends on a high number of parameters. It is determined by its response as a complete system to the outdoor environment and the indoor conditions. Improved levels of performance require the coherent application of measures which altogether optimize the performance of the complete building system. Given the number of individual attributes that have to be combined to make a single building, the number of possible designs is very large, and determining the most efficient one is a complex problem.

Optimization of building energy performance is more complex in the case of Indian buildings. While in some cold European regions only heating energy consumption is usually considered, the Indian climate makes it essential to consider both heating and cooling energy uses. Varying some parameters of the building over their ranges of practical values can have opposite effects on heating and cooling energy consumptions. It is evident that an insulated building envelope helps in reducing the heating demand. But in summer, the outdoor night temperature being generally lower than the required indoor temperature, un-insulated but high thermal capacity walls allow for the evacuation of the heat stored in the building during the day, leading to the reduction of air-conditioning need. One important question is raised: what is the wall composition that leads to the lowest energy consumption in both seasons? The answer is not straightforward.
The main characteristics of the two sided problem are: a large multi-dimensional space to be searched, a range of different variable types and a non-linear objective function. Using genetic algorithms to solve such problems is a good alternative that allows us to identify not only the best design, but a set of good solutions.

Design variables

In cold countries there is not a real need for summer air-conditioning except where internal gains are high such as concert halls or opera houses. Our situation being different, in the present work, the objective function can be taken as being the sum of the heating and air conditioning energy loads.
In order to find the optimal design of a building, we have to compare the energy performance of a large number of configurations, which needs the computation of the heating and cooling loads for each of them. In the optimization approach, we propose to use a simplified procedure that is more straightforward and easier.The losses across the envelope and the gross free gains depend on the lateral surface of the building, the type of used partitions as well as glazed surfaces on each of the facades. The shape and the dimensions of the solar protections have direct impact on the amount of the solar free gains received by the glazed areas. The vastness of the optimization problem would itself be a problem; therefore we have defined a set of possible configurations, by combining different cases of these design variables, taken inside reasonable values. The resulting set of configurations defines the space of research of our problem.
While keeping a constant volume, we can vary the dimensions of the building envelope and its shape. We can consider a simple cell-test having a rectangular shape with a fixed volume V or similarly a fixed floor area. For the opaque partitions i.e. walls and roofs we can consider different types of roofing (based on their insulation) and different kinds of walls (with different inertia and levels of insulation). Facades of the building can also be glazed, for such a case we can choose between simple and double glazing that differ by their transmission.
An efficient solar protection should allow for minimizing the cooling load without excessive increase in the heating load. This means that the shadowed portion of the glazed area should be as large as possible in summer and as low as possible in winter. Knowledge of the shaded part is necessary to compute the gross solar gains. The efficiencies of different sun shading devices can be adjudged from there “solar factors”; they are defined as the ratios of the received solar radiation in the presence of the shadowing device over the radiation that would be received in its absence.Courtyards are considered ‘the spaces through which a building breathes’. They are an efficient element of passive feature in a building. However there is an optimal size for a courtyard; a very large courtyard breaks the unity of the building while a small one becomes more like a duct. A building with a given foot-print needs a courtyard that is a fixed percentage of the foot-print area. This criterion may form one of constraints in our case.

Genetic algorithms

Genetic algorithms have proved their efficiency in dealing with different optimization problems such as the optimization of building thermal design and control and solar hot water systems as well as the design of thermally comfortable buildings and the control of artificial lights. These techniques belong to a class of probabilistic search methods that strike a remarkable balance between exploration and exploitation of the search space. Genetic algorithms are initiated by selecting a population of randomly generated solutions for the considered problem. They move from one generation of solutions to another by evolving new solutions using the objective evaluation, selection, crossover and mutation operators.A basic genetic algorithm has three main operators that are carried out at every iteration:
Reproduction: chromosomes or solutions of the current generation are copied to the next one with some probability based on the value they achieve for the objective function which is also called fitness.
Crossover: randomly selected pairs of chromosomes are mated creating new ones that will be inserted in the next generation.
Mutation: it is an occasional random alteration of the allele of a gene.
While the selection operator for reproduction is useful for creating a new generation that is globally better than the preceding one, crossover brings diversity to the population by handling the genes of the created chromosomes and mutation introduces the necessary hazard to an efficient exploration of the research space. It makes the algorithm likely to reach all the points of research space. Before developing a genetic algorithm, we must choose the encoding that will be used to represent an eventual solution of the problem by a chromosome where the value of each variable is represented by one or several genes. The quality of the developed algorithm depends essentially on the adopted encoding strategy and its adequacy to the used crossover and mutation operators, while respecting the nature of variables and the constraints of the problem.

The developed algorithm

In this work, a genetic algorithm needs to be developed in order to provide a method for obtaining a set of optimal architectural configurations. There are few things which are quite clear even before we start, for example, having a large southern facade is beneficial because it is the sunniest in winter and the least in summer. But it is not desirable to have a building with a large lateral surface because it increases the heat loss through the envelope. A compromise needs to be worked out in such type of area.


The energy problem presented in this paper is particularly interesting. While it is relatively easy to find the best characteristics of a building under winter or summer conditions separately, tackling the two problems simultaneously is more complex. There is a trade-off that has to be done between the two seasons requirements. An optimization algorithm coupling the genetic algorithms’ techniques to the thermal assessment tool needs to be developed for Indian buildings. This algorithm further can be used to identify the best configurations from both energetic and economic points of view. Genetic algorithms represent a simple and very efficient approach for the solution of non-linear combinatorial optimization problems. Although Genetic Algorithms find good solutions without exploring the whole space of research, yet they need the evaluation of a large number of building configurations. The algorithm presents also the big advantage of converging not only toward the best solution but toward a set of configurations all of a high quality and diverse enough to allow the user to choose the most adequate one to his personal considerations that are not necessarily quantifiable. The fact that the required result is a set of very good solutions (and not the best one) means that good evaluation accuracy is sufficient.

Elite Victoria Memorial

The Victoria Memorial was built to commemorate the peak of the British Empire in India. The Victoria Memorial, conceived by Lord Curzon, represents the architectural climax of Kolkata city. Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy specified its classical style but the actual plan of Victoria Memorial was laid down by the well-known architect, Sir William Emerson.

The Victoria Memorial blends the best of the British and Mughal architecture. The Victoria Memorial hall was built with white Makrana marbles. The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of Victoria Memorial in 1906 and it was inaugurated in 1921 in memory of Queen Victoria. The Victoria Memorial is 338 by 228 feet and a height of 184 feet. Today the Victoria Memorial Hall is a museum having an assortment of Victoria memorabilia, British Raj paintings and other displays. As night descends on Calcutta, the Victoria Memorial Hall is illuminated, giving it a fairy tale look.

It is interesting to note that the Victoria Memorial was built without British government funds. The money required for the construction of the stately building, surrounded by beautiful gardens over 64 acres and costing more than 10 million was contributed by British Indian states and individuals who wanted favours with the British government. At the top of the Victoria Memorial is a sixteen foot tall bronze statue of victory, mounted on ball bearings. It rotates with wind. At present the Victoria Memorial has notable collection of weapons, sculptors, paintings, maps, coins, stamps, artefacts’, textiles etc. The Royal gallery in Victoria Memorial has portraits of the Queen and Prince Albert. There are numerous paintings, illustrating events from Victoria's life.

Another remarkable peace in Victoria Memorial is a painting by the Russian artist Vasseli Verestchagin, portraying the state entry of the Prince of Wales in Jaipur in the year 1876. In the post independence period a new addition was made to the Victoria Memorial. It was the addition of the National leaders' gallery with the portraits and relics of the freedom fighters.

Envying Parliament – Portland, Oregon

This is a company that knows the importance of a happy and comfortable work environment, but have given it a slightly different twist to some of the companies on this list. 

The design of this office involves a lot of reclaimed or recycled materials such as old street signs, a salvaged pizza oven and a wood from a barn and a church. 

But just because they’ve used old materials, doesn’t mean the design has to suffer as the attention to detail and finish is superb, and the mix of raw materials really help it to stand out. 

To top it all off, the office is finished with a bearskin rug, which is rather suiting I think.

House and office complex by J mayer H features monochrome facades and false shadows

The four buildings that make up the Sonnenhof complex range in height from five to seven storeys, and are clustered around a central courtyard.
All four buildings feature faceted monochrome facades. Skewed pentagonal and square windows are outlined by grey aluminium panelling, contrasting the stark white plasterwork.

In homage to this detailing, J Mayer H chose to paint different areas of the courtyard black and white, creating the illusion that dark shadows are cast onto the ground.
Wedge-shaped planters with integrated benches contribute to this effect.

The Sonnenhof complex is located in Jena, a town in the Saale river valley in eastern Germany.

Green Building Facts


This year it is estimated that 40-48 percent of new non residential construction will be green, equating to a $120-145 billion opportunity
62 percent of firms building new single-family homes report that they are doing more than 15 percent of their projects green. By 2018, that percentage increases to 84 percent.
Historical averages have pegged the economic impact of investments in the U.S. residential market at roughly 5 percent of GDP, while other economic activity surrounding housing services as a whole have held historical averages fluctuating between 12 percent to 13 percent of GDP.3 This means that the current surge in green building starts and investment in the residential market will have an outsized impact on an estimated 17 percent to 18 percent of the domestic economy over the next decade.
More than 13.8 billion square feet of building space are LEED-certified (as of August, 2015)
41 percent of all non-residential building starts in 2012 were green, as compared to 2 percent of all non-residential building starts in 2005.
Areas with the greatest per capita investment in green buildings in the U.S. for 2014 were:

  • District of Columbia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Illinois
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Massachusetts
  • Hawa'ii
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Minnesota
  • Arizona
  • New York

LEED is referenced in project specifications for 71 percent of projects valued at $50 million and over
675.9 million square feet of real estate space became LEED certified in 2014, the largest area ever to become LEED certified in a single calendar year, and a 13.2 percent increase in total certified square-footage from 2013. 2015 looks to be another record-breaking year with 2,870 projects certified representing nearly 464 million square feet of real estate as of August 1, 2015.

Achieving LEED certification is a top sustainable goal for both private and public organizations, with LEED Gold certification being set as the goal for a majority of the organizations


LEED is the most popular and widely used green building rating system globally. There are currently more than 72,500 LEED building projects located in over 150 countries and territories (as of August 2015).
As of August 2015, approximately 43 percent of all square footage pursuing LEED certification existed outside the U.S.
Project expectations in four countries in 2015:

  • Brazil - 83 percent of firms planning new green commercial projects
  • Singapore - 69 percent of firms planning green renovation projects
  • United Arab Emirates - 73 percent of firms planning green institutional projects
  • United Kingdom - 65 percent of firms planning green renovation projects


By sector:

  • Buildings: 41 percent
  • Industrial: 30 percent
  • Transportation: 29 percent

Buildings are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources and account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. In the U.S., buildings account for:

  • 38 percent of all CO2 emissions
  • 73 percent of electricity consumption
  • Green buildings consume less energy. Compared to the average commercial building, the LEED Gold buildings in the General Services Administration’s portfolio generally:
  • Consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water
  • Have 19 percent lower maintenance costs
  • 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction
  • 34 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions

LEED buildings avoided 0.35 percent of total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2011. The percentage of CO2 avoidance attributed to LEED buildings is estimated to be 4.92 percent in 2030.


Buildings use 13.6 percent of all potable water, or 15 trillion gallons per year.
The industry expects that water-efficiency efforts will:

  • Decrease energy use by 10-11 percent
  • Save 11-12 percent of operating costs
  • Reduce water use by 15 percent

Retrofitting 1 out of 100 American homes with water-efficient fixtures could avoid approximately 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road for one year


Buildings use 40 percent of raw materials globally (3 billion tons annually).
The EPA estimates that 170 Million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris was generated in the U.S. in 2003, with 61 percent coming from non-residential and 39 percent from residential sources. They also estimate that 250 million tons of municipal solid waste was generated in the U.S. in a single year.
Green buildings consume less energy and fewer resources:

  • LEED projects are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of waste from landfills, which is expected to grow to 540 million tons of waste diversion by 2030.


Approximately 61 percent of all construction projects are retrofit projects 20.
Current market trends suggest that building owners and managers will invest an estimated $960 billion between now and 2023 on greening their existing built infrastructure. It is possible that these estimates could be surpassed in the event of unexpected gains in the US or global economy, if an international climate change agreement is reached or if more positive local policy developments encourage the green building market to grow in new and currently unexpected ways.
This year, the green share of the largest non-residential retrofit and renovation activity will more than triple, growing to 25-33 percent of the activity by value..
Firms that completed green building retrofit projects report:

  • Decrease in operating costs: over one year, 9 percent; over five years,13 percent
  • Expected increase in asset valuation according to building owners: 4 percent
  • Number of years until payback is expected: 7

88 percent of Building Information Modelling (BIM) users surveyed who are not currently using Green BIM expects that within two years their firms will use BIM on a green retrofit project
One billion square feet of buildings are demolished and replaced with new construction each year.
In February 2015, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) reported that energy consumption by the U.S. Federal Government had reached its lowest level since at least 1975. Lowering energy usage of its buildings (30 percent reduction in total energy use, 65 percent reduction in fossil fuel use) was a key component of reaching this historic accomplishment, and due to the United State’s Federal Government’s status as the world’s number one user of LEED, it is safe to say that LEED buildings played an integral role in helping the federal government to reach this goal.


A review of data from 195 LEED projects found:

  • The buildings are in the top 11th percentile in the U.S. in terms of energy usage
  • Have an average ENERGY STAR score of 89 points (out of 100)
  • Have a 57 percent lower Source Energy Use Intensity than the national average (as reported through EPA Portfolio Manager)

The majority of the buildings were office or retail, avg. 254,000 sf, certified under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system

An analysis of LEED projects in the San Francisco Bay area found:

  • More than half achieved LEED Gold (52 percent of the projects)
  • Projects certified under LEED for New Construction exceed ASHRAE standard 90.1 (1999, 2004, or 2007) by 25 percent
  • Projects certified under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance have ENERGY STAR score of 88 points (out of 100).

An analysis of 7,100 projects certified under LEED for New Construction found27:

  • 92.2 percent are improving energy performance by 10.5 percent
  • 89 percent are improving energy performance by 14 percent

Industry Sectors with the Highest Penetration of Green Building

  • Education
  • Health care
  • Commercial/Office

What’s Driving Green Building?
These factors are driving dramatic green building market growth:

  • Strong market demand
  • High cost savings for business and tax payers
  • Public health gains from green buildings
  • Steady gains in the percentage of large, non-residential commercial or institutional projects that are green
  • Federal, state and municipal mandates and policies
  • Increased property values
  • Low rental vacancy rates for LEED-certified buildings