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Student Jacob Abdu designed a post-COVID-19 workspace in a conceptual nature museum and laboratory to ensure communication between departments, use of light that informs focus and well-being, and a design that uplifts morale and production.

Hochung Kim, assistant professor in the School of Interior Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, created a timely opportunity for students to reimagine the workplace. The fall 2020 studio investigated the definition of workplaces, how they have changed in the course of history, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how we work.

Assistant Professor Hochung Kim
Assistant Professor Hochung Kim

In the studio, students focused on what it means to be in a workplace during the present COVID-19 pandemic along with what workplaces might look like in the future. Kim challenged his students to think about how work settings will change and shape the future based on restrictions, social awareness, health conditions, new opportunities, and other factors.

Students researched key events that have changed workplaces over the course of history, developed a series of models, and learned how to use software to produce various architectural forms and formalize them into a singular design language.

“There are so many different elements that are part of the workplace and many aspects of design that are unseen to most people,” said Jacob Abdu, a junior from Knoxville. “Something that was integral to my research was understanding the impact of power structures in the workplace and ways that we as designers can work to actively change the way we perceive power and position at work.”

The students’ use of new software relates to Kim’s current research, which investigates the outcomes of integrating the latest technology for multiple working environments. The research is funded in part by the College of Architecture and Design Faculty Development Award.


Amanda Johnson (865-974-6401,​