When it came to the ideal creative workplace, we previously imagined a happy communion of the personal and the professional that challenged, ignited and engaged our curiosity (see W*173). Kindling a radical type of office design, Silicon Valley’s freethinkers have conjured veritable Wonderlands of Lego play stations, sleep pods, yoga studios, slides and even woodworking shops. As creative spheres evolve, so too have the environments that foster them.
Launched by ROADS Publishing this week, The Creative Workplace explores caverns of creativity across the globe where bright ideas are born. Editor Rob Alderson writes in the book’s foreword, ‘We continue to be fascinated by that triangular relationship between the creative, their work and their space, poring over the evidence to try to untangle how each factor affects the others.’ To wit, the tome brings together a collection of over 50 offices as architecturally diverse as the firms that inhabit them.
Some are impressive for their settings alone. Barcelona-based studio Ricardo Bofill Taller de Aquitectura is situated within a former cement factory, a striking Brutalist structure on the outskirts of the city. Elsewhere, in Paris, Ekimetrics created a ‘sub-space in raw wood’ within a 19th century classé palace with golden mouldings and frescoed; while Singaporean firm Park + Associates’ offices are located in a former school compound (specifically on the site of previous library hall) and takes advantage of a column–free space crowned by a series of barrel vaults.
Other firms have had to be more inventive with their bureaus. Digital and advertising agency Barbarian Group’s workplace spans a mammoth 7,000 sq m loft in New York’s garment district. Its centrepiece is a 134m-long, undulating desk that snakes around the space with grotto-like spaces underneath the ‘arches’ designed to accommodate meetings. And it’s not always a case of the bigger equating the bolder – Belgium outfit Five AM has gone mobile in a small but perfectly formed, renovated caravan.
If there’s one thing to take away from The Creative Workplace – other than a debilitating case of office envy – is that unconventional is becoming the new normal.