We contacted Agnieszka Białek, Founder of Monolight Studio. She has created an innovative co-working space design, an architectural concept to float in the water environment. The author, currently the owner of the Monolight Studio, was born in Cracow, the local landscape next to the Vistula river has accompanied her for years. The idea for the project developed in the pandemic era while observing the forming of a new reality. Walks along the river boulevards during the quarantine were a crucial stage in the creation process.
In the project, architectural structures drift near Wawel Castle, the symbol of the city. The contemporary formation differs from the centuries-old kings’ habitat, currently one of the finest polish art museums. This project does not interfere with the natural environment. The elements allow arranging in many different ways by changing their location on the river. The creative process was guided by ecological values, especially the limitation of degradation of natural ecosystems, allowing the coexistence of nature and architecture. It pays attention to distance and the presence of empty
spaces, which will be the ones desired in the post-Covid reality.
When did you realize there was a need for a new co-working space?
Agnieszka Białek: «I have started with observing the new reality during the quarantine. I wanted to respond to the needs of a changing world. Frequent walks along the Vistula boulevards were a crucial stage in the creative process.
Currently, we can observe fatigue with the home space in which we are present all the time. Working in the company of other household members is not the most comfortable, especially if we have to focus on performing specific tasks. Enclaves provide greater comfort and protection of personal space».
How did you come up with this idea? Are you a remote worker too?
Agnieszka Białek: «The starting point for creating the solids was the natural environment. The foam structures built by the river are the main inspiration for the form of modules of the designed architecture. Another influence is water lilies and their root system – the elements shouldn’t be anchored to the shore, but to the river’s bed, just like these plants. In this way, we limit the access of third parties and provide comfort and protection of private space for work. Like water lilies, an entire architectural structure can grow on the surface of a river, with leaf-like communication routes and flower-like work areas.
Yes, I am a remote worker too. My studio is working with Clients and Partners remotely worldwide. I know the struggles and needs of remote workers well».
What will be the future of co-working spaces in your opinion?
Agnieszka Białek: «I think that we will observe the development of co-working spaces and they will become more and more common, especially in cities. I think we will be looking for opportunities to cut off the professional zone from other areas of our lives, especially in times of the pandemic. I believe the future of remote work is micro-working structures, meaning small, personalized spaces ready to be booked online. Crucial here are qualities like protection of privacy, availability, and users’ comfort».
Will sustainability play a key role in new design projects of this kind?
Agnieszka Białek: «I hope that it is true. I believe in the coexistence of architecture and nature. As a rule, the project does not permanently interfere with the natural environment. It is a temporary structure that leaves a lot of freedom in the arrangement of elements by changing their location on the river. Environmental protection is a topic close to my heart. Every day I try to live ecologically – I segregate waste, limit the number of disposable products, buy second-hand, pay attention to certificates, switched to a vegetarian diet.
I also urge my friends to do so. I think that each of us should take actions aimed at nature protection on our own. Therefore, in addition to the above steps, I try to make my projects have an ecological dimension. The enclaves on the Vistula are a concept, a kind of idea that I would love to continue in the future after appropriate research. Inthe possible construction process, I assume the use of 3D printing technology to use a biodegradable filament. Using this technology on an architectural scale allows the construction of organic structures in just a few days. Additionally, to maintain the ecological dimension of the project, reaching the facility is possible only by kayak».
Where do you usually work?
Agnieszka Białek: «In my home office these days».
What do you like/don’t like about co-working spaces?
Agnieszka Białek: «The great thing about co-working spaces is that they are more affordable than renting an office. These facilities are also well equipped, with an internet connection, office equipment, and furnishings. On the other hand, I think there are way too many distractions, lack of comfort, and difficulty adjusting to one’s unique workflow. I don’t particularly appreciate working surrounded by others, so I focused on designing more personal space.
I imagine the interiors of the enclaves as integrated, well-blended structures inside of each cell. Organic shapes wrapping the inside of every workspace allow users to achieve any individual position during work. In the comfort of your enclave, you can sit, lay, or do something in- between working. I designed particular shapes on different heights for different purposes: the low seat, regular seat, chaise lounge-like shape, another level for a table, and shelves above. Structures merge seamlessly into each other, making interiors unique. I would say that each capsule should be used by one-three people at a time, making the online meetings comfortable. To summarize, it is a pandemic version of working together».
How has your working life changed after the Pandemic?
Agnieszka Białek: «Remote work became a new norm, even for local collaborations, with many online meetings and video calls. The tasks that we currently do in person are minimal. I noticed I spend most of my work time in my home office, with blurred lines between work and personal life. It also means less time spent commuting. As a worker in the creative field, it is more efficient overall to work remotely in the comfort of a personalized space».