Inside The Beijing 'Office' Inhabited By Human Guinea Pigs

Sourced from The Guardian

To outsiders, the workers in this under-construction office on the northern outskirts of Beijing will look like a normal group of employees – but the workplace will be like no other in China.

Every movement of the volunteers, students and interns working there will be monitored, measured, analysed and assessed. A team of scientists will be watching these human guinea pigs in a simulated real-life environment with sensors, microphones and wearable technology to monitor their physical, mental and emotional responses to the environment or building design.

When complete, the 25,000 sq ft Well Living Lab, the first scientific research centre in Asia to focus on the indoor environment, will feature a range of simulated homes and offices. The facility will make small variations to the environment – in lighting, air quality and noise levels, for example – and monitor how they affect workers’ health, happiness and productivity. The research findings will be used to change the way future buildings are designed.

“More and more architects, interior designers and engineers are working together with scientists for healthy design, and thinking about how to make the space more like human beings’ natural life,” says Xue Ya, Asia president at Delos Living, part of the team behind the Well Living Lab.

Planned experiments include controlling the light in offices using a series of different types of windows and imported “smart glass” panels around the building, to analyse which has the most impact on productivity. A rotating research centre can turn 360 degrees, with adjustable interior lamps changing the colour, temperature, brightness and light spectrum. Large buildups under the floor and ceilings will hide hundreds of biometric and environmental sensors to monitor and record experiments. Entrants to the building will need to pass through three layers of doors into a protected environment with triple glazing.

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