To some, the office is a humdrum place of meetings, deadlines and pressure. To others, it’s a vibrant medley of collaborative spaces and quiet solitude to drive inspiration, stimulation and creativity.
It’s easy to see which is more beneficial, but how do you create an environment that’s conducive to a positive workplace culture?
There’s no straightforward answer. From effective management and great leadership to flexible working principles and employee development, there are so many different ways to inspire and engage a workforce. One of them is office design, and you can see brilliant workspace design in action at many of the world’s most successful corporations.
Indeed, today’s workspace industry is a smorgasbord of innovative ideas and cutting-edge architectural ideas. It serves a very important purpose beyond the aesthetics — to inspire its residents and enable creativity and productivity to flourish by delivering a platform in which different personalities can thrive.
Such workspace utopias are often associated with corporate giants like Google, but not every fantastic design is backed by a Google-sized organisation or budget. Here we celebrate some of the most unusual, weird and downright wonderful office designs in the world today, because sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places:
This remarkable multifunctional pod by Finnish corporation Neste is designed almost entirely with renewable materials, providing an office and meeting space, or simply a quiet place in which to escape the hustle and bustle. It’s not yet in production, but if brought to fruition GreenPod will provide a smart interconnected environment with walls that can be transformed into different landscapes, background sounds, ambient temperature, and even 3D holograms for meetings.
As Neste puts it: “The GreenPod revolutionizes the concept of work. In the end, it’s all about working more efficiently rather than working more.” The GreenPod is one of five different designs from Neste’s ‘Pre-Order the Future‘ initiative. Whichever concept receives the most public up-votes will be developed into a prototype later this year.
Image: Neste Facebook page
Although not technically an office space, this micro-library in Bandung, Indonesia, is stunning in both its simplicity and its sustainability. The brainchild of Dutch architectural firm Shau, it’s made from 2,000 upcycled ice cream buckets and is elevated to free the ground space for events and other purposes.
The tiny structure provides a community space for reading and studying. According to Shau, the pattern on the facade spells out a message by Mayor Ridwan Kamil, “buku adalah jendela dunia” meaning “books are windows to the world”, and the project is one of several pilots aimed at improving the country’s literacy rate.
Continuing the sustainability theme, take a look at these former shipping containers in Loughton, Essex. Set to open later this year, Grangewood’s masterplan will deliver a complex of 36 shipping containers, each one housing a unique workspace designed for freelancers and home-based entrepreneurs.
Given its proximity to major motorways (M11 and M25) and Central line stations, its location is designed to allow easy access to and from Central London without the overheated expense of office space within the city. Each [email protected] features full height windows, Wi-Fi, and on-site facilities including bike storage, showers and a Costa Coffee.
Meaning “The Crooked House”, Krzywy Domek is a bizarre yet brilliant retail and office building in Sopot, Poland. It was built in 2004 by architects Szotyńscy and Zaleski, who were inspired by the fairytale illustrations of children’s author Jan Marcin Szancer. Inside, the ‘crooked house’ provides meeting rooms and office space in addition to retail outlets and restaurants, and is billed as “the strangest building in the world” – which the operators proudly proclaim as a unique selling point.
Fancy working deep inside a mountain below 30 meters of granite? It might sound like the lair of an evil Bond villain, but in fact this hidden bunker is the data center of Swedish IT and Internet service provider, Bahnhof. Buried inside the White Mountains near Stockholm, Pionen is a former civil defence center that was designed to protect people and data from nuclear strike.
Today it’s the home of one of Sweden’s largest network operators, founded in 1994, who unsurprisingly offer “extreme security” to their customers. In fact, so secure is the site that it attracted WikiLeaks, who reportedly stored servers at the site in 2010.