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DEGW Archive – University of Reading

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DEGW Archive

Research project

DEGW was founded as an architectural and space planning consultancy specialising in workplace design.

degw-pic-2DEGW became a prominent actor in shaping the field of office space planning, internationally, by enriching architectural knowledge through their research. The legacy is alive globally and is flourishing across the built environment sectors. Especially in AECOM, as Strategy Plus, the legacy practice continues to evolve.

The archive of the first 25 years of DEGW's work has recently arrived at the Special Collections, University of Reading. Spanning the years 1971 to 1997, the archive comprises about 800 documents: project reports, presentations and drawings, research reports and the firm's business reports. The items in the archive were part of the 'DEGW Knowledge Centre', an in-house library of the firm which might have been continuously referred to during the course of the firm's operations.

The DEGW archive is further complemented by the collections of two of the firm's founders: Frank Duffy and Luigi Giffone.

The Frank Duffy Collection is an exhaustive compilation of publications authored by him and includes monographs, edited books and articles.

The Luigi Giffone Collection is eclectic and contains office brochures and newsletters, along with his sketches, project drawings and presentations.

The research project aims to understand the development of DEGW's design methods linking:

  • organisations to the built environment
  • research and practice
  • workplace to various urban scales.

Envisaging this as a 'living archive', further research will explore adaptations of DEGW concepts within the work of current researchers and practitioners. We are also examining the classification issues presented by these archival materials.

Past events


Work and the Future Office
Nicola Gillen, Director and Global Practice Leader, Strategy+ at AECOM

Drawing from the RIBA book 'Future Office: Next-generation workplace design', lead author Nicola Gillen explored disruptors in the world of work, design process and practice to look at how and where we will work in the future.

Work and the City: Directions for Change
Andrew Laing, PhD, Principal of Andrew Laing Consulting LLC, and Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University, School of Architecture

Andrew Laing explored the history of ideas about work, technology and the city, from DEGW's pioneering research on intelligent buildings, the distributed workplace, and Frank Duffy's seminal book Work and the City, and looked at the emerging directions of change in work, technology and the city. How is the thinking on technology and cities altering our ways of understanding places? What are the implications for new ways of programming, designing and using the city?

DEGW Foundation Lecture: "Transforming the workplace" by Despina Katsikakis: Thursday 5 October 2017

For more than 30 years, Despina Katsikakis has led innovation, research and implementation of transformative business environments and exemplary real estate developments worldwide. As Cushman & Wakefield's Head of Occupier Business Performance, she provides input across the firm's global business on the rapidly-changing context of work and its impact on employee engagement, productivity and wellbeing. With these factors increasingly determining the leasing decisions of leading corporations, Katsikakis' unrivalled insight on the future of work benefits occupier clients - as well as the building owners and landlords seeking to attract them - through repositioning real estate to drive top line performance.

During her career Katsikakis has advised some of the world's biggest companies, including Google, Unilever, BP, GSK and Microsoft, on how best to achieve tangible business goals through their workplaces. She has been instrumental in developing the vision and research to future-proof commercial developments around the world, most recently London's TwentyTwo, the progressive 1.3m sq ft office development currently under construction in the City of London and Europe's first major WELL-certified new-build project. She serves on the advisory board of Delos™, the pioneers of Wellness Real Estate™ and founders of the WELL Building Standard, and regularly lectures around the world, writes and contributes to media, research and publications on the future of the workplace.

Exhibition: 5 October 2017, The Museum of English Rural Life

The lecture was accompanied by an exhibition of the DEGW archive. The exhibition explored the knowledge practices of DEGW by studying their relationships with their clients. DEWG exhibition

 DEWG exhibition 2

Symposium: A living archive |Possibilities for/through the DEGW archive: 5 October 2017

About the symposium

Archive, memory and materiality: An exploration through the DEGW archive: 16 June 2017

As part of the London Festival of Architecture 2017, this event comprised a walk at Broadgate and a pop-up exhibition. DEGW's contribution to the material fabric of London, through projects such as Broadgate and their consultancy for clients in the financial and professional services sectors were explored.

Broadgate Walk: Broadgate Welcome Centre, Finsbury Avenue Square EC2M 2PA

DEGW members and others involved in the development of Broadgate  hosted a walk through the area,  gathering stories about the project, enriching the archive in a participatory manner. The walk was framed through anchor points in the Broadgate area, prompting contributors to discuss DEGW's work and Broadgate in general.

Pop-up exhibition: AECOM, Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman Street E1 8FA

DEGW's work reveals the fluidity of the built environment in the evolving contexts of organisational and technological change. The exhibition, kindly hosted by AECOM, where the legacy DEGW team continues its award-winning work, comprised three themes:

  • DEGW projects in the City and fringe areas
  • the evolution of DEGW methods
  • a visual chronology of DEGW's work.

Anchored around the archive, the discussion explored the connections between the past, present and the future of the City and the wider urban fabric of London.

The DEGW Archive workshop: 26 April 2017, University of Reading

The aim of this workshop was to explore how we can use the key themes of DEGW to structure the archive and continue to evolve it as a living repository of ideas and future innovation.

Through the workshop, we identified areas of enrichment for the archive and modes of future engagement with the DEGW members and wider audiences. The participants included members of DEGW, academics from the University of Reading and invited external members. The workshop involved discussions around the following four themes:

  • understanding clients and adding business value
  • research and design methodologies
  • linking supply and demand, and its impact on procurement
  • designing across scales and the importance of urbanism.

Alongside the workshop, a pop-up exhibition was displayed at the Special Collections, Museum of English Rural Life.

Architecture Public Lecture Series: Foundation Lecture by John Worthington MBE, 27 October 2016

"DEGW: Five Decades and a Glimpse of the Future - Practice by Learning, Learning through Practice"

The lecture


The lecture was accompanied by an exhibition of materials from the DEGW Archive, exploring the design methods adopted and developed by DEGW. Through analysing these design methods, it becomes possible to engage with the key concepts of DEGW: the Supply and Demand model highlighting the importance of user research, and the 4S model demonstrating the different rates of change within various building elements. The DEGW Archive provides substantive cases to understand implications of these concepts in designing the built environment.

The exhibition

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