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10 of the world’s best offices that redefine cool

October 30, 2015

Thinkgarden, Milan. Photo: Supplied

From vintage bank vaults to military bunkers, old cinemas and converted warehouses, some of the world’s coolest offices crop up in the most unlikely places.

Creativity and technology combine to develop smart spaces that optimise existing building features, as well as inspiring ideas and nurturing a happy workforce.

Here are Commercial Real Estate’s top 10, in no particular order. Don’t forget to show the boss.

1. Bastard Store, Milan

The name of the company, Bastard Store, proves that cool can be a curse. The company makes snowboards, skateboard accessories and clothing, so it stands to reason there would be a skate bowl, known as “the Bastard bowl”,  suspended above its headquarters in a converted cinema in Milan, Italy.

Italian practice studiometrico converted an old cinema in Milan into the new Bastard flagship store, which also includes a suspended bowl and offices for Comvert. Photo: Studiometrico via Arch Daily
Photo: Studiometrico via Arch Daily

The "Bastard bowl". Photo: Bastard Store/Facebook
Photo: Bastard Store/Facebook

Bastard (company name) skate bowl above its offices in Milan. Photo: Studiometrico via Arch Daily
Photo: Studiometrico via Arch Daily

2. dPOP!, Detroit

American company dPOP! designs workplaces for creativity and collaboration and believes a happy, productive workspace is essential for attracting and retaining geniuses.

Their own space in downtown Detroit – a repurposed 1920s bank vault “furnished like a palace” – more than fits the brief.

dPOP! is based in a bank vault in Detroit. Photo: dPOP!
Photo: dPOP!

Kartell Victoria Ghost chairs inside a bank vault - this must be the steampunk meeting room. Photo: dPOP!
Photo: dPOP!

3. Atlassian, San Francisco

Enterprise software group Atlassian, founded in Sydney in 2002, has fun and creative workspaces to match the tech wunderkind reputation of its leadership team, as well as generous perks for staff including a family holiday after five years of service.

So it’s no surprise the company is regularly named on lists of the best places to work.

The company has offices in Sydney, London, Amsterdam, Austin, Manila, Yokohama and San Francisco, a vast converted warehouse in East SoMa (pictures below) that has reportedly been used previously as a disco and a church.

Atlassian's Radiowalker conference room at the company's San Francisco offices. Photo: Atlassian
Photo: Atlassian

Ping pong showdown at Atlassian's San Francisco offices. Photo: Atlassian
Photo: Atlassian

4. Bahnhof, Stockholm

Bahnhof is a Swedish internet service provider, so security is a big part of its business.

And there aren’t many places more secure than a converted military bunker, especially when one of your most well-known clients is Wikileaks.

Not only are the data centres well protected in Pionen, the former civil defence facility buried in a mountain near Stockholm under 30m of granite, they’ve managed to optimise the space – and look after employees’ circadian rhythms – with plenty of glass and simulated daylight.

Bahnhof – which is among Sweden’s largest internet service providers – keeps data incredibly safe thanks to its presence within a former military bunker. Photo: Bahnhof
Photo: Bahnhof

Bahnhof – which is among Sweden’s largest internet service providers – keeps data incredibly safe thanks to its presence within a former military bunker. Photo: Bahnhof
Photo: Bahnhof

5. Thinkgarden, Milan

Co-working space Thinkgarden bills itself as a creative business lounge and promotes a relaxing environment for its staff by combining foliage and function.

Stark white furniture is offset by the plentiful indoor gardens, with every available space taken by plants and trees.

The company aims to let employees isolate themselves from the hustle of the city without giving up their link with the world.

Thinkgarden, Milano, Italy. Photo: Architizer
Photo: Architizer

6. Facebook

No cool office list is complete without Facebook, which has long been a pioneer of office design innovation.

The company encourages its teams to make workspaces their own. We reckon this space in the London office is a great Kombi-nation for work and comfort.

Teams at Facebook are encouraged to make their workspace their own, like this one in our London office. Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Even the plumbing looks good at Facebook’s engineering office in Boston …

Workspace in the Facebook Boston Engineering Office. Photo: Patrick Rogers Photography
Photo: Patrick Rogers Photography

7. ASB Bank, Auckland

ASB Bank has a reputation for nurturing innovation and  embracing technology.

The company follows activity-based working principles at its North Wharf head office in New Zealand, working in business unit “neighbourhoods” or open spaces known as “boathouses”.

These concepts provide a choice of work settings and inspire a sense of identity, community and transparency in line with the work aspirations of ASB, says architect BVN.

The fit-out is designed so conversations cannot be overheard by passers-by, even from open-plan zones.

ASB North Wharf, Auckland. Photo: John Gollings
Photo: John Gollings

8. Trivago, Dusseldorf

If work sometimes has you climbing the walls, Trivago has the solution – a climbing wall at its headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The hotel booking site, one of the world’s biggest, does not stick to office routines and prides itself on cutting-edge technology and a social office atmosphere. The gaming consoles, foosball tables and fully stocked beer fridges no doubt help with that.

Trivago's climbing wall at the company's Dusseldorf office. Photo: Trivago
Photo: Trivago

9. Fishburners, Sydney

Co-working spaces are on the rise in Australia. Populated with socially savvy tech types with creativity to burn, they boast some of the most innovative premises. Fishburners, a Sydney-based community of tech startups, is no exception.

While there are foosball and ping-pong tables, funky motivational murals, designer chairs and well-stocked drinks fridges, the main focus is on nurturing a close-knit community to share skills and ideas.

The ideas space at Fishburners, Sydney. Photo: Fishburners
Photo: Fishburners

The event and relaxation area in our Idea Space. Photo: Fishburners
Photo: Fishburners

10. WeWork, New York

New York-based office space provider WeWork is reportedly setting up its first Australian office in Pyrmont, Sydney.

Its offices are as diverse as its locations – the company has more than 50 offices worldwide – from beanbags and a hunting lodge theme to a game parlour on a Soho mezzanine.

NYC - WeWork West Broadway Lounge. Photo: WeWork
Photo: WeWork

NYC - WeWork Soho West Mezzanine. Photo: WeWork
Photo: WeWork

  • Do you have a cool office? We’d love to see your photos. Email editorial@commercialrealestate.com.au
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