4 Examples of Great Open Plan Offices
Is open plan office design is dead? It is, if architectural blogs are any indication, currently they seem nostalgic for the isolated cubicle of the 90’s sitcom era. I think it would be a crime to go back to the isolated days of seething frustration and four white walls of impenetrable partition.
You can have both good and bad design in all things in life, and this includes open plan offices. User Centred Design is still not as prevalent as it should be. At times being what the designer wants to give you and not what you need, or want. To break this myth that all open plan offices are unproductive places see below my top pick for great corporate and co working offices with the open plan aesthetic that are still great places to work.
First on our short list is Colony, a co working space in Manchester, UK. Listed as a community space it is affordable, if you use their 6 month memberships you get all the facilities and benefits for just over £9 per day! It is designed at every turn for the businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers using it. It has all the great features that you need as a co working user:
- Open plan hot desks for that studio buzz
- Different focus areas if you need to shut yourself away
- Dedicated phone booths so you can talk in private with disturbing or being disturbed
- A great communal kitchen to stimulate community and social interaction
Next on our list we jump around the world to Cove Co Working Space in Brisbane. Purpose built as a hub for entrepreneurs and collaboration the Cove has a great array of services. Built in an old warehouse it has none of the overly large empty space and instead is built over two floors incorporating both collaborating and private office space. My favourite features are:
- Fantastic use of natural light in the spaces
- Convenient private booths for solo concentration work
- Community vibe, with onsite storage, showers and car share scheme
Carrying on our around the world tour, we stop in Philadelphia for a controversial places i our top open plan workspaces. The Urban Outfitters Corporate Campus in the old navy yard. Why controversial? I usually turn from tall warehouse work spaces and run as fast as I can! The hyper tall ceilings and overly cavernous, echoing interiors sap my focus and concentration and I end up giving all my energy to the space instead of my work. However, I would love to take a trip to Philly to see this campus.
- The building is surrounded with large walls and ceilings of old window panels, lighting the interior perfectly
- Every room is stacked full of plants, helping absorb the extraneous background sounds and defeat the echoey noises
- The workspaces are a mix of small and large open plan pods allowing creative mess but not creative chaos
Just a short trip into Canada for our next entry, from Leckie Studio we have Slack’s Vancouver office. Their office retains the industrial character of the warehouse in Yaletown. It has three floors of exposed wood, metal and concrete from the building's past. Slack have gone all out to provide a usable space for its employees. My favourite parts of their office are:
- Well lit with large windows and skylights
- Mobile meeting rooms can provide, dedicated space to collaborate or privacy for uninterrupted work
- Mossy feature wall
- A mix of different workspaces, private, semi-private and open plan
Some people will still maintain that open plan is dead. I believe that open plan offices will improve exponentially as we focus more on the people using them, and take into account the universal factors that can make all offices great. We will have more on that in our next post, ‘How do we design better workspaces?’.
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