“A WAY of Working...”
Joseki Offices
The Usonian Workplace
In 1958, Mrs Pew told me how her Usonian house had transformed her life [link: post usonian - pew story] . Mr. Wrights work was based on a concept of a way of life. This is clear in his works and was made explicit in the living experience of Taliesin [link: Taliesin return]. My afternoon with Mrs Pew made me wonder if a way-of-working - different from which I had experienced to that point - was possible and if this also would require a new architecture. This started a quest that I am still pursuing nearly 50 years later [link: making place - 20 years of taylor environments].
This quest lead to what I call the Usonian Workplace. The idea of the Usonian Workplace is to apply Usonian principles to the contemporary workplace where ever that may be: in the office, the home or in a mobile unit. Just as the Usonian house was based on a way of life, the Usonian Workplace is based on a way of working. The way of working that is knowledge-work and design focused. It is compatable with the Taylor Method - but not limited to the specific product and service offerings that MG Taylor presently has in the marketplace. In other words, it is the fundamental expression of this kind of work - not any particular expression of it - that makes up the Usonian Workplace approach.
In addition to the physical environment, work processes and technology elements, the Usonian Workplace also requires a different organizational structure than is common in the workplace today. It is based on a different reason for working than that which has been “sold” as the reason to work in recent decades which is to earn a living. And, it operates in a different social, economic, political context than is prevalent in the typical workplace we confront today. The Usonian Workplace is collaborative and design focused. It applies the processes of constitutional and democratic governance to the workplace where they have long been held out [link: 7 domains model]. The Usonian Workplace is a self-managed environment. It is a place of of personal creativity and GroupGenius. It rejects both the overblown luxury look of the “for show” parts of the typical corporate edifice and the “back room” cyber workshop where so many work - the new assembly line and just as inhuman [link: reworking the workplace] as the old. Space and tools are allocated and arranged not as an expression of rank and privilege but according to the requirements of the work and the personal work styles of individuals.
The Usonian Workplace is an architectural concept - yet, not defined as architecture is usually conceived which is too narrow to be useful. It is a comprehensive application of organic principles [link: definition of organic architecture]. It is the architecture of physical environment, life-work processes and technology augmentation [link: making authentic architecture]; it is an recursive architectural concept that stair steps [link: post Usonian review ] from a single dwelling to Planetary Architecture [link: the case for planetary architecture]. It is only within this social, economic, ecological framework - made up of local to global scales - can the Usonian Workplace (or house for that matter) [link: what makes a usonian an usonian] be accomplished and can be made relevant to our time, socially responsible and sustainable.
These is another critical dimension that defines the Usonian Workplace. I would not call every work “Usonian” even if based on the principles described above without this singular point: the Usonian Workplace is modest and therefore affordable to a far greater number of people than who enjoy such an environment today. It is the celebration of taking basic materials and methods and crafting a work of art [link: basic architectural practice - definition]. It is understood and employed by those who use it as such. The Usonian ideal requires a close relationship between the space maker and the user of it. It seeks to fit the environment to each user - not the user to the environment. At the same time, it challenges everyone within it to see reality in a new way, find new dimensions within themselves, and to achieve their best expression of who they are in their life and work. In this regard the Usonian Workplace is not passive but an active agent. It is a knowledge factory and participant in the making of new ideas and their expression in the world.

Matt Taylor
August 7, 2005


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posted: August 7, 2005

revised: October 3, 2005
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(note: this document is about 20% finished)

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Copyright© Matt Taylor 2005

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