Q&A Anna Tsoumi – BCO NextGen Ideas Project Finalist

The BCO NextGen Ideas Project is a brand new concept for 2022 — a completely reimagined iteration of the BCO’s previous ‘Design Competition’. An idea generation initiative, the project challenges NextGen members to present their boldest, most innovative and creative ideas for the future of our workspaces.
Associate Sustainability Consultant at Hilson Moran, Anna Tsoumi, has been selected as one of six winners for her idea ‘The PUZZLE_Piece’, and we sat down with her to find out more about it.

Hi Anna, tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far?

I’m a passionate Sustainability Consultant with an academic background in civil engineering (and an ex-professional volleyball player!)

Over the last six years, I have been working at Hilson Moran as a Sustainability Consultant, mainly on commercial (office) properties in London, with high profile developers. My role is to advise design teams and clients about the design criteria, sustainability targets and how they can push the boundaries and achieve an excellent environmental performance for their buildings.

My experience includes a big variety of office typologies from new built high rise to major listed refurbishments with 20 Ropemaker, 50 Finsbury and 14-21 Holborn Viaduct being a few examples.

Tell us about the idea behind your submission?

It has become apparent over the last years that the workspace is undergoing an evolutionary process. The corporate work culture is adjusting and reconfiguring to follow new needs. As part of this process, designers should lead the way in challenging conventions, encouraging inclusive spaces providing equal access and opportunities regardless of variables such as social groups, physical abilities, and mental health challenges. The PUZZLE_Piece is a workplace design framework responding to this challenge.

Have these changes been accelerated by the pandemic?

Yes, work from home gave new opportunities to people – both with and without physiological or neurological challenges – to stay part of a community and productivity chain, while maintaining control of their working environment.

In many cases, this helped maximise their talents. Indoor environments, noise, light and temperature, are highly important to everyone and especially so for neurodivergent people, who can often be over stimulated. Working from home made people realise the pros and cons of the mainstream office space.

The PUZZLE_Piece framework brings together the benefits of working from home and the traditional office space by merging spatial personalisation, leisure, community and collaboration. I believe the workspace is a destination, the out-of-the-norm place that is your choice to visit in order to forge relationships, collaborate in real time and increase your social activity.

This framework embraces the importance and benefits of engaging with culture and empowerment of employees. The PUZZLE_Piece framework creates a social hub designed for inclusivity, and I’m asking everyone if they will follow it.

So how does the framework work?

The framework highlights five fundamental areas, all interconnected, as puzzle pieces offering a variety of settings for people to choose where and how they work. The focus area, the collaboration area, the grow area, along with leisure and community areas, are all part of an integrated fluid design supporting communication and privacy at the same time.

Spaces will benefit from advances in technology to be equally friendly and usable to all occupants. Personalised spatial characteristics to allow inclusivity are the main theme of the framework.

How can people find out more about your idea?

I will be presenting my idea, along with the other finalists on Thursday 29 September 2022, at Storey Club, 100 Liverpool Street. Tickets are available now for BCO members.

Thanks Anna, and best of luck!

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