Close your eyes and try to imagine your everyday corporate environment. What springs to mind? Claustrophobic desk cubicles? Depressingly dreary grey carpets? Cliched motivational posters plastered over the walls? Exactly my point. The majority of office environments don’t exactly inspire enthusiasm and creativity in their workforce, but amidst the miasma of miserable office blocks there are some that dare to be different...
1) Pionen White Mountain Office
Located nearly 100ft below Stockholm, this office installation is more suited to Dr. Evil than to Donald Trump. Currently used as a data-centre by Swedish internet service provider Bahnhof, Pionen is a former nuclear shelter designed to withstand the force of a hydrogen bomb and uses German submarine engines to provide back up power units.
As if that wasn’t enough, the interior of the facility is jaw-dropping. To provide a comfortable working environment for it’s fifteen employees the data centre features artificial sunlight generators, greenhouses full of fauna, waterfalls and huge fishtank that can hold over 2600 litres of water.
All we need now is an escape pod and a mega-laser cannon to make this a super-villains dream home.
Creativity is the life juice of the Lego brand and it is overwhelmingly obvious the moment you check out their headquarters in Denmark. The trademark eight-peg coloured block is prevalent literally from the moment you step through the front doors into reception, with the bricks appearing as both the ceiling and floor surfaces.
Lifesize Lego characters are dotted throughout the entire building, appearing in hallways, benches and meeting rooms, whilst huge pits of Lego are to be found around every corner. How the Lego employees ever get any work done we’ll never know.
3) Urban Outfitters
Built in the old Navy Yards in Philadelphia, the Urban Outfitters creative headquarters truly manages to capture the brands identity in its sweeping decadent, decaying and grandiose structure; combining a gritty, worn down interior with exquisite, flamboyant decorative flourishes.
The building itself is kept open plan and utilises huge windows to let in as much light is possible, illuminating the entire building and providing a beautiful space for Urban Outfitter’s designers to flourish. The HQ makes the most of the relics left over from the buildings original function, with ship construction machinery and factory characteristics repurposed to fit in with the companies corporate identity.
For a brand that wants to be a leader in everything fashionable, they are certainly leading the way with this fantastic space.
The inspiration for Airbnb’s kooky headquarters is inspired by very idea that launched the company in the first place. Airbnb paved the pathway to success by offering the public a means of advertising spare lodgings and free rooms online through a social network. Using this inspiration, the rooms of AirBnB have been modelled on a variety of real-life apartments with every room representing a different home in a different city that has been listed on Airbnb. Mimicked locations include Reykjavík, Bali, Amsterdam, Paris and many many more.
The entrance foyer features a huge wall dotted with what looks like apartments windows, coupled with a massive open plan seating/presenting area where the founders have been known to host talks. During construction, the Airbnb founders said they wanted their employees to experience the sense of travel that their users would experience, "Simply having photos of listings and far off places was not enough. It is not just about recalling the memories, but about feeling that you're there." Nailed it.
Inventionland looks like the brainchild of Willy Wonka and Peter Pan when left to their own devices for a little too long. The HQ of Davison Design and Development, Inventionland is the stuff of children’s dreams with a life size pirate boat and a gigantic robot! In total there are 16 different themed areas throughout the headquarters with each section designed to reflect the nature of the new-product invention within. For example, the giant robot nicknamed Inventron 54 contains the consumer electronics division whilst the Motor Speedway is the centre for automotive products.
The fun doesn’t stop there. A journey through their psychedelic office will reveal a creation cavern, a tree house, and the pièce de résistance, the Inventalot Castle. Inventionland hasn’t always been held in the highest regard due to it’s murky labelling as a ‘typical invention promotion scam’ by the FTC back in 2006, but let’s be honest. You can’t fault them for their creativity.
6) Google London HQ
We could go of gone with the Googleplex campus in Santa Clara, but we all know the Brits do it best so we stuck with Google’s UK HQ in grand, old London town.
Located in the Central St Giles development near Tottenham Court Road, the London HQ combines the expected ‘Googliness’ of Google with more traditional aspects of British life. Take for example the room named ‘Granny’s Flat’ that is decked out with chintzy armchairs, doilies, and throwback wallpaper from the 30’s, or ‘Velourmptious Snug’ a green padded room based on the traditional British pub.
The work place also takes employees out into the elements with a rooftop terrace that encourages employees to take some time out and sow seeds into custom timber tubs. How anything ever gets done at Google we’ll never know.
7) Corus Entertainment
Inside every adult, lives a little child screaming to fling themselves down a slide. Well this was obviously Corus Entertainment’s thinking when they constructed their spectacular headquarters at Corus Quay in Toronto.
Step through their front doors and you are welcoming by a huge, cascading three-story slide and a gigantic ribbon of white the snakes its way along the ceiling of the entire building. Whilst these creations are obviously the showstoppers of Corus Quay, the rest of the office space isn’t too shabby either utilising huge open spaces with minimalist, yet bright colourful furniture to create a functional yet funky office environment.
8) Ogilvy South Africa
When you are one of the world’s biggest and most successful advertising agencies in the world, it is only right that you show off your creative juices on your property. But where to start!?
A mood-light meeting room that changes colour throughout the meetings progression. A collection of sculptured dog sculptures for seating rather than your bog standard four-leg job. Mouth-shaped urinals in the men’s lavatory. Such wonders, so many in fact that you may be hard pressed to believe this is an office space at all.
9) Selgas Cano
If you go into the woods of Madrid today, then you are certainly in for a surprise. Hidden amongst the forestry is this spectacular office space designed and built by Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano.
This long tubular structure has been built half way into the ground to afford the SelgasCano employees a ground-level view across the forest floor. A long curving window accounts for one side of the building and offers expansive views across the beautiful landscape.
The office interior is kept clean and elegant, with a two-tone colour scheme of yellow and white. The furniture is simplistic but brings bursts of colour in an otherwise plain scheme. People often talk about ‘getting back to nature.’ Well SelgasCano really did.