In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many commuters opting to work from home away from urban centres, the re-thinking of how traditional workplaces such as the City operate is in the forefront of many people’s minds. Sagoo is himself working from home the day we speak, as are plenty of his colleagues – though the Foster + Partners studios in Battersea are back in use in a carefully-managed way.
We are on a video call, naturally, but it turns out that Sagoo uses the technology somewhat differently to the rest of us. He and his 20-strong team at Foster’s have a permanent video meeting going, all day long, wherever they happen to be working from. The connectivity is just there in the background or foreground as needed – people can talk or not, diving in and out to do other things. The aim is to recreate that human thing of working together, batting ideas to and fro, suddenly having a thought and trying it out on others without the need to set up a special meeting to discuss it. Is this the future for home/work? Sagoo acknowledges that his domestic set up is relatively adaptable to working in this way, but accepts that it’s not so easy for a great many people – such as those crammed into a shared rented flat, say. Hence the need for new ideas for future living as called for in The Davidson Prize.
Sagoo is the Foster + Partners ‘Drawing Man’, a noted draughtsman and advocate for communicating architectural ideas through imagery, as a form of visual storytelling. His desk bristles with brushes, pencils, pens both analogue and digital. A good drawing – in whatever medium – provides a clue, he says, not only to the building or place in question but also to how the architect behind it thinks and might manage projects and people. He points to the example of Emma Gibb, an architect whose student work Sagoo first encountered in 2013 through The RIBA Journal’s annual ‘Eye Line’ drawing competition. She is now an associate partner at Foster’s.