Dual purpose architecture

As hybrid work slashes demand for physical workplaces and colleges across the country experience a plunge in enrollment, city planners and amateur at-home designers are looking to optimize dormant structures to fit with today’s changing societal needs. Let’s take a closer look at these shifting spaces.


For those of us who work from home, having a dedicated home office makes it a lot easier. However, many don’t have the luxury of space inside the home to create a private office and have begun to look outside for options. Up until recently, a freestanding structure in a yard would likely have been a tool or storage shed. According to InShed.com, in the work-at-home era the newest trend in workspace involves turning a backyard shed into an office. As such, small garden sheds are getting a makeover as backyard office builds gain momentum. Companies like Tuff Shed offer kits and DIY guides to help design your own home office right in your backyard - with some even turning theirs into a dual purpose income source by converting into an Airbnb at night.


In Manhattan, as hybrid work has slashed demand for physical workplaces, more buildings are vacant across the famed New York skyline. In the midst of this, however, is a residential conversion boom, whereby the likes of 25 Water Street, in New York’s financial district, is undergoing America’s biggest ever office-to-residential conversion transforming the office skyscraper into 1,300 apartments. The revamped building will include a range of luxury amenities, including a basketball court, spa, indoor and outdoor pools, an entertaining lounge, and co-working spaces.


As Cassandra discussed in last year’s report, The Future of Education, there is an ongoing enrollment crisis at U.S. colleges and universities, driven by both demographic and attitudinal trends. Fifty-one percent of young people believe you shouldn’t go to college if they are unsure of what they want for their future. College dorms across the country are thus rethinking what to do with campus housing. The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, is considering turning vacant dorms into temporary homeless shelters for displaced people. In Denver, the residence halls on the former Johnson & Wales University Campus are being converted into 154 units ranging from studio to three bedrooms. The units will provide affordable rents for qualified residents who earn less than 60% of the area's median income.