The Creative Workplace explores the spaces where bright ideas grow

Selgascano's subterranean office exterior view
Spanish architecture firm Selgascano's subterranean office, nestled in sylvan surrounds in downtown Madrid, is just one of over 50 global examples included in The Creative Workplace, a recently launched book from ROADS Publishing.
(Image credit: Photography: Iwan Baan)

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.

Plants in office

Designed by X + L Architects, Random Studio’s office is sited in Amsterdam. ‘The indoor garden, the mirror monolith, and the bags filled with plants hanging from the ceiling give the space an edge,’ say the firm. ‘The whole studio feels alive, always changing.'

(Image credit: Photography: Kasia Gatkowska)

superdesk view in office

Digital advertising agency Barbarian Group leased a 7,000 sq m loft in the New York garment district to house 125-175 Barbarians, which was surgically gutted to create a large open space. The centrepiece is a 134-metre-long ‘superdesk’ that snakes around the office...

(Image credit: Press)

Unique workplace view

...with grotto-like spaces underneath the ‘arches’, designed to accomodate meetings, bookshelves, storage and focused workspaces.

(Image credit: Photography: Michael Moran)

multi-layered office space

Japanese architectural firm Mamiya Shinichi Design Studio, located in suburban Nagoya, was inspired by the notion of a safari park when it came to designing its multi-layered office space.

(Image credit: Photography: Toshiyuki Yano)

Creative Workplace view

Having moved out of a typical office building, Park + Associates were searching for a new space that would not just accommodate their expansion but also reflect the philosophy of their creative pursuits.

(Image credit: Photography: Edward Hendricks)

office interior with table

The architects’ office today occupies the mezzanine level of an old school building in Singapore’s River Valley enclave.

(Image credit: Photography: Edward Hendricks)

Workplace interior view

The firm's workspace is located where the old library hall used to be. Situated at the highest part of the building, it contains an expanse of column- free space crowned by a series of barrel vaults.

(Image credit: Photography: Edward Hendricks)

Creative Workplace

Casa Rex is a design brand with a main office in São Paulo (pictured) and a base in London. ‘The [office] concept was to explore a combination of rough and raw materials – from the house’s façade, built up from modular metal frames filled with rocks, to the bannisters made from construction sewer pipes,’ say the company.

(Image credit: Photography: Rafaela Netto)

Office interior view

Ekimetrics’ Paris office was completed in 2014 and is housed inside a nineteenth-century classé palace with golden mouldings and frescoed ceilings.

(Image credit: Photography: Arnaud Schelstraete)

Office interior view

Spanning over 1,000 sq m and featuring five-metre-high-ceilings, the setting gave Vincent & Gloria Architectes to create sub-spaces in raw wood.

(Image credit: Photography: Arnaud Schelstraete)

Factory exterior view

A third-generation family business, Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectur is located in a former cement factory on the outskirts of Barcelona.

(Image credit: Photography: Lluis Carbonyl)

Creative Workplace interior view

Richard Bofill explains: 'Seduced by the contradictions and the ambiguity of the place, I decided to retain the factory and, modifying its original brutality, sculpt it like a work of art. It is for me the only place where I can concentrate, associate ideas in the most abstract manner, and  finally, create projects, images and new spaces, and constitute a specific vocabulary for our architecture.'

(Image credit: Photography: Lluis Carbonyl)

Creative Workplace interior view

'The Cement Factory is a place of work par excellence,' he adds. 'Life goes on here with very little di erence between work and leisure.'

(Image credit: Photography: Lluis Carbonyl)

Desk with computer

Stochkholm-based MER explains of its minimalist workplace: ’Our office is a creative workshop and the concept is built around “exhibition”.’ Eye-catching features include the paper cube (pictured) and the polished steel room divider.

(Image credit: Photography: Mårten Ryner)


Published by ROADS Publishing, £25. For more information, visit the website