Circular design in the workplace

News | 28 March, 2023

Second Cycle Project by Studio Banana

Harnessing sustainability in the space we inhabit.

The Second Cycle Office pilots

As part of our vision as home of design-driven transformation, we embrace a more sustainable approach within the built environment by incorporating some of the key principles of the circular economy in our daily design routine.

It is a fact that functional office furniture and equipment are usually discarded by companies if they cannot be integrated into a new concept or working environment. Following Studio Banana´s conviction that the availability of existing resources must be a key design driver (“form follows availability”), we partnered with Smart City Lab Basel –a Swiss innovation lab testing ideas and services in the areas of sustainable building, mobility and logistics – to embrace new approaches to give a second life to pre-used office equipment and furniture.

“Second Cycle Office” project is the first successful attempt at materialising this vision and a positive proof that a sustainable work environment using second cycle furniture is possible.

Smart City Lab
Smart City Lab

Want a smart workspace? Better start with second-cycle furniture

In this time and age smart design inexorably implies an efficient use of available resources. If an organisation discards functional furniture when changing its work environment, why not reusing it in other projects in its current form or repurposing it with a new intended use? 

Although feasible, the materialisation of this vision is challenging as it requires a paradigm shift in an industry and relies on the availability of a responsive network of partners with the drive to move towards those goals.

kHaus Second Cycle project by Studio Banana

The first pilot project of this initiative, the interior design of kHaus, a hub for social and cultural enterprises in the former military barracks of Kaserne Basel, developed in collaboration with Fluxdock, was an inspiring and demanding real-life exercise that led us to develop closer relationship with multiple regional organisations to source pre-used and pre-loved furniture and materials.

Throughout this project, we carried out a long process of networking, testing and experiencing different combinations until developing an ecologically and socially sustainable interior design concept. In addition to being environmentally friendly, it was key to strengthen the bonds with the local network and get the support and cooperation of social organisations. In that sense the project embraced the three dimensions of sustainable development: ecological, economical and social.  

The success of the network developed during this exercise paved the way to a second test project with the Swiss Federal Railway company SBB CFF FFS and Kanton Basel-Stadt, also supported by the SCLB. 

A test exercise for the future of workplace

By combining existing furniture units from SBB’s gargantuan stock, upcycled elements from old dismantled trains and newly built timber elements, our second pilot offers a patchwork multifunctional module that can be used in different scenarios: workshop, break area, storage,welcome island in an open workspace.

Second Cycle Project by Studio Banana
Second Cycle Project by Studio Banana

Through the use of rapid prototyping, this proof-of-concept piece of furniture successfully reimagines more sustainable office scenarios and a wide range of different combination possibilities

The real size prototype installed in the Community Space of Smart City Lab Basel to get hands-on user feedback embodies an alternative mindset and demonstrates that giving a second cycle to furniture can be part of the solution towards a more sustainable built environment.

Towards the future outlook

Following these experimental real world applications, we are currently witnessing a high level of demand from progressive organisations to incorporate this circular vision and approach in other ongoing projects.

When embracing this approach, companies need to take into account the following aspects:

-How to change the functionality of our work environment with the furniture and equipment we already have?

– Is it possible to pool our furniture within a bigger network to allow for more flexible use?

-How to upcycle existing furniture pieces to give them new functionalities?

-What are the sustainable alternative sources to new furniture purchases?

Studio Banana is fully committed to keep exploring future possibilities and ways towards a  more sustainable built environment. Contact us if you are interested in being part of this transition together.