The office – a crucial element of any business in creating a work environment for their employees, that manages to strike the balance between the three pillars of productivity, collaboration and comfort. However, like most other things, we live in a world where too often our ideas for the office are pre-occupied by what our neighbours are doing. We are creatures that often prefer to follow rather than lead.
Today, we’ll take a look at some of the offices and companies that buck this trend. However, this won’t be simply another blog post about Google’s latest and coolest office. Rather, we’ll be attempting to uncover some of the more unheralded offices around the world and picking apart the positive elements they incorporate. So here we go, the top five most unusual offices in the world.
1. Selgas Cano Architecture Office, Madrid
We are often told to incorporate pieces of nature into the office but no other office in the world embodies this advice quite like the SelgasCano Architecture office in Madrid. The husband and wife duo who designed this beauty (the same owners of the office) wanted to replicate some of the more formal elements of an office but be buried within nature – quite literally!
The space offers endless natural light and inside, the colour scheme emulates the seasonally changing tree leaves outside. Also built on top of an old WWII bunker, employees can escape the noise of the open office upstairs and go downstairs to a darker yet more quiet zone for ‘deep work’. Could you imagine anything better for your mental health than stepping outside this office with a warm coffee in hand and taking a moment to breath? So hygge marn.
2. Inventionland Design Factory, Pittsburgh
Inventionland is an immersive work environment and incubator for inventors all over the world, where ‘creativity and imagination are the number one currency’. The owners of Inventionland threw out the playbook when it came to designing this office for its employees and creatives alike.
The 60,000 square foot facility houses 16 different types of work environments, each designed for the particular creatives in mind. For example, a pirate ship sitting in a body of real water (with a fake shark and all) houses developers of high-tech products and games. Meanwhile, a giant robot welcomes creatives working in the field of electronics. However, all 16 ‘sets’ have one thing in common – they bring out the child within and enhance creativity. As children, our creative juices were endless but over time, became diminished as ‘adult life’ took precedence. Inventionland brings its workers back to their childhoods in recognising the importance creativity has in our personal and work lives. Indeed, creativity is the last thing that robots and machines will take over from us as humans – so enhancing it can only be of benefit!
3. The Sphinx Observatory, Switzerland
Ok ok – so you’re probably throwing your hands up in the air and thinking, ‘why would this be included – it’s impossible to replicate’. Well, you’d be right! There is no other office quite like this in the world. Situated at 3,571m above sea level, the Sphinx observatory is both a tourist spot and an office for scientists from all over the world. It houses two large laboratories, a weather observation station, a workshop and terraces for scientific experiments.
If Selgas Cano mentioned previously takes out top prize for the office most immersed in nature, this is a close second. With views spanning for miles out across the breathtaking Swiss Alps, scientists who work here truly feel like they’re on top of the world whilst completing their work. Studies have also shown the benefits that cold shocks can have on increasing alertness and providing an endorphin rush that promotes wellness and productivity for humans - tick! No need for those morning cold showers for these scientists!
4. Village Underground – Shoreditch, East London
In 2006, four converted Jubilee line carriages were hoisted atop an old Victorian warehouse – and with that, the Village Underground community workspace was born. This East London creative hub gives off all sorts of hip, funky and too cool for school vibes, replicating a Berlin underground nightclub more so than a formal workspace for its tenants.
The space was designed by creatives, for creatives. It forces artists and designers from across the globe to sit in each other’s comfort zones and collaborate within irregular physical parameters. Not exactly an optimal work environment for your average office worker in terms of noise pollution – but it prioritises human interaction over any sort of peace and quiet that a typical office worker needs, a priority tailored to its primary tenants. And what’s more, it converts into an actual nightclub on weekends – Friday night office raves anyone?
5. Bahnhof Internet Provider, Stockholm
Once a nuclear bunker and command center for the Swedish government during the Cold War, Bahnhof’s underground office is the ultimate workspace for tech nerds and scientists alike. It is located 30m under the granite rocks of Vita Berg Park in Stockholm and took more than 2 years to blast out the 141,000 cubic feet space – so don’t even think about trying to get phone reception down there. Talk about a ‘distractionless’ working environment!
It gained its notoriety over a decade ago, when it became home to Julian Assange’s infamous WikiLeaks. For those of us who need ultimate peace and quiet and are easily distracted, this is the perfect working environment. However, for those of you who crave natural lighting, this wouldn’t exactly be your cup of tea. Nevertheless, Bahnhof has catered to its light and bright craving employees through the incorporation of more open and lighter working spaces, so as to not totally lose the feeling of time in such an enclosed space.