In Jacques Tati's best work, Playtime, his most famous character Monsieur Hulot loses himself among the boxes of an impersonal and aseptic glass and steel building. Looking for a room to attend an important meeting, Monsieur Hulot is baffled by reflection of the glass partitions and the orthogonal matrix of the interiors, stumbling into a trade exhibition of lookalike corporate office design and furniture nearly identical to those in the rest of the building.
The ’60s environmental office depicted in the film is a world away from the quirky and fancy offices introduced by Google and co. in the last ten years. These new workspaces embody a new way to conceive the creative process and,more importantly, the leap in technology and communication that has shaken up our conception of work.
Co-working spaces are becoming the most advantageous and suitable solution for a work environment that is fast becoming more dynamic and flexible. But which are the rules that shape a perfect shared office and allow the creation of a synergetic community?
Yard House by Assemble
Based in one of the most creative neighborhoods in London, Yard House is part of Sugarhouse Studios, a complex that combines affordable studio space alongside wood and metal workshops and a flexible event and project space.
“The layout of the building reflects an aspiration to create a sociable and collaborative work environment. The side aisles are used as individual studio spaces, and open onto a generous double height communal area,” says Alice Edgerley, one of the founders. ”Studios are provided without partitions, but tenants are free to adapt their space to suit their practice, combining adjacent units or enclosing their space for greater privacy.”
The Hub Madrid by CHURTICHAGA + QUADRA-SALCEDO arquitectos
“We tried to run out from formal and ambience concepts of the 20th-Century office, where the furniture, lights, colors are [the]protagonist and then imagine a frame for people and relations between them,” explained Cayetana de la Quadra-Salcedo.
The frame is a 40’s garage in the Madrid’s city center. The isolation of the cover and the addition of a floor heating system under large planks of wood are the only significant interventions in the building that preserves its rough heritage. Glassy partitions separate individual offices from the rest of the open space, conceived to house events and meeting.
The Hub Caracas by Odart Graterol and Ricardo Rebolledo
These are the challenges of the project: organize a complex space within a very wide range of possibilities of use, make the office showy and impressive and do it on a very limited budget. These are the bases of the space designed by the Venezuelan architects.
“Environments are connected to each other using divisions enabling integration, separation, and size changes in multiple combinations so people can develop a wide range of activities,” described the architect Odart Graterol. "There are systems that incorporate mobile divisions to add or subtract blocks of contiguous spaces, making possible a wide range of possibilities of use.”
One of the trendiest places to work in New York City, with a new branch in Los Angeles opening soon, Neue House is organized around three spaces with specific functions: Park Zones on the top floors to house informal gatherings; the Pier, featuring communal work tables and café sit; and Neighborhoods, flexible workspaces such as conference rooms.
“NeueHouse was designed to foster a culture of collaboration, enabling members to work with their own teams or with other entrepreneurs,” said David Rockwell, founder and President of Rockwell Group. “The public areas and work spaces are designed to dissolve boundaries between individual members and their enterprises to encourage informal meetings and gatherings, and the exchange of ideas.”
Betahaus by DontDIY Studio
Betahaus space was the first co-working space to open in Sofia in the summer of 2012. “The Betahaus is still one of the few co-working spaces in Sofia, as people here are not used to sharing and are a bit cautious about moving into a larger space with a lot of coworkers,” explained Hristo Stankushev, one of the founders of DontDIY Studio. “The communist period (1944-1989) made us afraid of the public and shared spaces and our community is still healing the wounds and learning to share.”
Once the site of the building of the national telecommunications,the refurbished 1,000 sq.m has all the elements of a perfect co-working space: the bar, secondhand furniture and the mismatch of exposed electric installation and blue epoxy resin flooring.