Food for Thought: Pioneering Workspaces for the Modern Age
Following-on from our previous articles on emerging themes in office design and layout, with emphasis on interaction and collaboration, we felt a few inspirational real-world examples worth highlighting.
Whilst these are very ‘cutting-edge’ examples of modern office design, they are based around the same set of principles that can be scaled to smaller workplace environments, based, as they are, on collaborative space, collision spaces, co-working and the principles such an approach entails.
Facebook – Menlo Park, California
2,800 Facebook staff occupy their 430,000-square-foot building in Menlo Park, California which serves as a prime example of a collaborative spaces approach to workplace design. As can be seen in the image below, interior design architects Grensler have produced multi-level open spaces where staff can interact and, importantly, are channelled past each other in close proximity, the upper walkways as an example, to trigger interaction.
Google – Zürich, Switzerland
The largest Google engineering office in Europe, interaction and collaboration are key elements to the design and layout of the workspace. With employees from across the globe, Google have turned to interior specialists to create an environment where the multi-national staff won’t feel isolated but rather part of a ‘family’, repeatedly being channelled into spaces where they will be in contact with other employees both in terms of work and recreation; thus fostering a truly collaborative workplace.
Another innovative approach is the inclusion of recreation within the workplace. Spaces are made for Zooglers (Zurich Google staff!) to undertake recreational activities within the workplace to further foster interaction and sense of community among them.
BICOM Communications – Montreal
Canadian PR agency BICOM Communications engaged Montreal designer Jean de Lessard to transform their headquarters into a fully collaborative space that would drive and stimulate the creative thinking of its workforce. The result is a workplace filled with wide-open space, communal facilities, collision spaces and strategically placed groupings of furniture and seating in all connecting walkways to foster the getting together of staff for the sharing of ideas and fostering communal spirit.
Through careful use of out-of-the-box thinking, de Lessard has utilised multiple building materials (log cabins and artificial grass being a couple of notable examples) to create visibly designated zones for various teams within the space but in such a manner that they are at the same time open and very much feel like part of the open, communal approach to staff interactions.
TBWA/Chiat/Day – New York
New York ad agency TBWA employed designer Gaetano Pesce to create their workspace based around the concept of collaborative space with all staff hot-desking wherever they wish within the structure with features including a basketball court, a British red telephone box and living trees!
Employees are encouraged to move about the multi-level structure and work where they please and the means of navigating form one level to another, and between working areas, designed in such a manner as to create multiple collision zones for greater interaction.
Mother London – London
London-based creative agency Mother London have applied the same creative thinking they apply to the projects of their clients to their workspace in the Biscuit Building.
In addition to the ideas seen above of collaborative spaces, Mother London utilised the skills of Clive Wilkinson Architects to realise their vision which has included such innovative concepts as a 250ft concrete desk that accommodates 200 employees (seen below)! To further expand the employee interaction, each employee is encouraged to change their seat every 6 weeks!