Jie Zhang, Assoc. AIA
FoAM reimagines the future workplace: portable offices that you can carry in a backpack and set up in garage-turned urban parks.
FoAM presents a futuristic workplace design that celebrates the rapidly growing freelancer economy, which makes up 35 percent of the US workforce in 2016 and is predicted to grow to 50 percent by 2020. No longer having to arrive at fixed, routine workplaces, agile workers of tomorrow—professionals, entrepreneurs and freelancers - thrive as backpackers in a new productive landscape, where the boundary between work and life is increasingly blurred. Currently, digital nomads flow between homes, coffee shops and co-working spaces, leveraging technology to connect with clients and collaborators near and far.
In the near future, a growing number of autonomous workers will demand not only more space, but also mobile, personalized and responsive environments to work better and achieve greater well-being. The increasingly digitalized lifestyle will also create a pressing desire to reconnect with the physical world and with each other. FoAM emerges out of such needs. Inspired by inflatable architecture from the 1960s, FoAM proposes a portable office as a personal armature made of multiple active layers. The inflatables, collapsible but otherwise thermally and acoustically insulating, re-imagine the workplace at the scale of the body.
FoAM also aims to unleash the latent value in vacant city infrastructure. Outdated parking infrastructure becomes "campgrounds" where the inflatables plug in, hosting individuals and group events. Meanwhile, these new parks grow into green lungs of the city, while improving personal health by reconnecting us with a multi-sensor, authentic natural landscape.