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Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders Offices


Creating Calm, Healthy Offices

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Doctors Without Borders was created with the belief that all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries. 

 A priority for the design of the offices was to accomplish calm , healthy and welcoming office space which included daylight to all desks and a lot of plants which helped to clean the air as well as create a friendly atmosphere. Research has shown that daylight and a view of plants lowers stress levels and helps people to be more productive.

The public spaces and walkways through the offices were carefully organized to strengthen a sense of community in the office. The wood screens had shelves so that photos and crafts from the many areas where MSF was working could be displayed. Our design had to accomplish these goals in as economical a way as possible so it was clear that donations were being spent on the field work and not on elaborate office space.

During the preliminary design period, MSF as an organization was deciding whether to have individual offices for staff or open office space. It was concluded that staff interaction between departments would improve with a more open office plan. We designed groupings of four desks that would be separated by bookcases and rows of plants. Plants were located just above eye level when sitting at a desk which allowed for some privacy while still maintaining overall openness.

With such a tight budget, we primarily used IKEA furniture that was then modified with slats. Some units were also built from scratch from economical materials. The Central Technical School wood shop built all of the units as a school project.