Previously it was used as a place to make a telephone call, or as a changeroom for Superman or for the Doctor to travel in time, but the humble phone box is now enjoying a renaissance of sorts.
Phone boxes and the phones in them have been rendered virtually obsolete by the smartphone, but a number of quick-thinking entrepreneurs have stepped in to make use of the tiny spaces.
One of them, New York-based co-working company Bar Works, has turned Britain’s iconic red phone boxes into fully functioning micro office spaces.
Pod Works is offering renovated versions of the classic red boxes, fitted out with everything you need in a mini office: Wi-Fi, charging sockets, printer, scanner, heater and, of course, a phone.
“They’re aimed at entrepreneurs or anyone who is always on the move and needs a convenient, affordable and private place to work,” the company says.
“Why sit in a noisy, public coffee shop when you can sit in one of our secure Pods and truly focus on your work?”
The micro offices are aimed at travelling business people who might be tired of working from a cafe or looking for a bit of peace and quiet while sending emails.
The company is creating a network of these mini office spaces around London and the UK, and offers yearly memberships for just over $430 (£250), for access to any phone box office.
If you need to finish some last-minute preparation before the big presentation, 20 minutes in one of the mini offices will set you back £3 ($5.20).
Buying a monthly or yearly membership also gives users access to the company’s virtual assistant, who can help with office duties such as drafting letters, researching and responding to emails.
Bar Works chief executive Jonathan Black came up with the idea after seeing phone boxes in New York being turned into Wi-Fi hotspots.
“There are so many of these unused phone boxes now in the UK, especially in London,” Black told FastCompany.
“When I looked into it, there’s one call made per week from these call boxes. I thought they’re in such good locations in terms of transport hubs, commercial centres – if we were to put multipurpose work stations in these, then I could really see a good use.”
The famous British phone box was designed as part of a competition in 1924 and is now instantly recognised around the world. But with smartphones rendering their service obsolete, a number of other novel ways have emerged to preserve this piece of history.
In the UK phone boxes have been used as shopping kiosks, cafes, libraries and even advertising screens.
Pay phones are meeting the same fate here in Australia, with a drastic decline in the number of devices around the country. Telstra, which owns the majority of pay phones in the country, launched a new program in 2015, transforming these pay phones into Wi-Fi hotspots.