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The Secret Life Of Buildings - Work

Updated Monday, 8th August 2011

You might not enjoy going there, but for most, a workplace is inevitable. What can be done to make them better buildings to be in?

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Tom Dyckhoff continues his exploration of how buildings shape us by travelling to places of industry and commerce. Tom Dyckhoff and Norman Foster in the Gherkin Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Renegade Norman Foster and Tom Dyckhoff in the 'Gerkhin'

Our workplaces – factories, schools or offices – should inspire us, motivate us and bring out the best of our abilities. But are these spaces doing just the opposite?

Tom explores how the architecture of our workspaces affect us, and makes some revelatory and shocking discoveries: how the spaces in which we spend our everyday can actually physically change our brain, why open plan offices are bad spaces to work in and what happened to bring about the current obsession with showy iconic buildings regardless of the quality of the space on the inside.

On a global journey, Tom meets and challenges architects including Lord Foster and Zaha Hadid, and also sets about trying working in their buildings himself. What do the buildings do to him – and what are they doing to people in them?

Is it possible to design a building that actually makes us feel happy and make us more productive? Wherever you work, you’ll never look at your workplace quite the same way again.

The Secret Life Of Buildings: Work is an Open University and Renegade co-production for Channel 4. The episode is first broadcast on Channel 4 at 8.00pm on Monday, 8th August. Clips, further broadcast details and links to watch on line are at

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