One of the office design projects I'm dying to see once completed is Facebook's Menlo Park Campus, currently being designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry. If you've read much about it, you may have noticed that the office is literally one large room for nearly 3,000 employees.
3,000 employees…in one 420,000 square foot room…
The designers have apparently come up with a system to separate the space using a variety of barriers so it will not be possible to see from one room to the other. They believe this will bring down the size of the room to a more manageable size for individuals.
But this got me thinking about how space gets separated in smaller offices and work environments where rooms are open and privacy is often limited. Let's take a look at a few examples.
You've probably already guessed that walls can be used to separate space, but did you consider shorter walls? Probably not. This example gives the space some nice color and visual variety while making it apparent where the work area is. It also moves the general circulation through the room and out of the work area.
One method of separating office space is to use furniture-based products like turnstone's Campfire Screen. The benefit of this type of barrier is the flexibility it offers; instead of installing permanent walls, these screens allow you to create temporary work spaces throughout your office. Though not soundproof by any means, these screens do offer visual privacy that many open offices lack.
Office libraries are as important as ever, and the photo above is a great example of using them to separate space with a useful barrier. If you're worried about the permanence of the above example, there are many furniture-based shelving units that can offer the same benefits.
This office might not be winning awards for innovative designs, but it does a great job of showing how ceilings can be utilized to offer a sort of visual distinction between two areas.
Flooring can be utilized in the same way as the ceiling example earlier—it doesn't offer a physical boundary, but it does give a visual distinction between spaces. The carpeting above also gives staff members a softer workspace and likely offers some sound baffling benefits in addition to just looking great. Plus just look at those turnstone Bivi workstations!
Wrapping this room in color really sets it off as its own, defining the space for the user. And the fact that these walls can handle dry-erase markers is a huge benefit! Conference rooms that are intentionaly designed to be multi-purpose ensure the space will be used often—even between meetings.
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