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Yu Hu: The Evolution of Urban Office Space in The Age of Information and Communication Technology

Supervisor: Prof Francois Penz




Research overview:

Disruptive technologies usually lead to substantial transformations in urban form and urban space. We have seen it happen during the period of the Industrial Revolution where the urban modernisation model emerged leading to massive population growth across the world. At the dawn of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) being its herald, a new type of urban spatial evolution can be expected. This research studies the evolution of urban office space in the age of ICT. Working is a basic form of existence for human beings, comprising a significant portion of our daily activities. The content and modes of work determine the form of workspaces, such as farmland, the workshop, the studio, the factory, or the office. Starting from the second half of the twentieth century, the development of ICT made flexible working possible, which started to shake the dominance of traditional cubicle office space. This research hopes to answer how the office, a space type deriving from the industrial age, will evolve, using deductive reasoning taking into account how future urban workers demand and utilize office space. Field observation, interviews, and questionnaire methodologies will be used to understand how current knowledge workers use different urban spaces for work. An agent-based model (ABM) will be developed to simulate how office space may evolve and in what form might future workspace exist.



Yu Hu is a second year PhD student. Before coming to Cambridge, he received his Masters in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2019 and Master of Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014. He was a senior architectural designer in New York and used to be a research assistant at MIT’s Senseable City Lab where he found his research interests in urban design and urban spatial evolution in the era of Artificial Intelligence.