Work & City Research Lab
When the RCA's Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design was co-founded in 1999, early design research projects looked at changing patterns of work and mobility in the city in response to social, demographic and technological change.
In the first year of the centre, two major thinktanks were held at the RCA on the work theme. The first, Work at Home (April 1999), explored an inclusive design response to the growing trend towards working from home. This thinktank was sponsored by Leonard Cheshire, the charity provider of care and support for disabled people. It presented a research study called Borders and resulted in a Helen Hamlyn Centre publication also called Work at Home.
The second thinktank, Nomadic Working (November 1999), examined another powerful social trend – the uncoupling of work from the workplace, creating a new generation of 'nomadic workers' responsible for developing more flexible and continuous patterns of work across the city than ever before. This seminar was sponsored by the Design Council and featured an exhibition of RCA projects at Workplace 99 at Olympia, entitled Work for our Future Selves.
Coupled with the publication of The Creative Office (1999) by Jeremy Myerson and Philip Ross, the two thinktanks generated considerable interest among industry partners in supporting work and city design research from a social and demographic angle.
Outside the workplace, projects looked at such subjects as airport design, transport interchanges, urban lighting and city incubators for regeneration and growth.
A research lab dedicated to rethinking work and the city in an age of rapid change was up and running.