Copenhagen – The current SPACE10 offices, housed in an airy former fish grocer building, opened three years ago. As the working world is increasingly realising the perils of the open-plan office, the innovation lab enlisted design studio Spacon and X to rethink the available 1,000 sq-m in a way that would increase employee wellbeing.
This was in no way a major overhaul – in fact, Spacon co-founder Nikoline Carlsen calls it ‘a small project.’ What’s striking about it is the precision and relative ease of implementation of the tweaks, as well as the question of when these spatial tools will make their way to the IKEA mothership. But in the meantime, there are already three key takeaways from this renovation that offices everywhere can quickly implement.
Sound-reducing booths can be made at about 10 per cent of the cost of sound-proofing
 A MORE AFFORDABLE SEMI-SOUNDPROOF YET STILL-PRIVATE ENVIRONMENT
The soundproof booth for the open office was one of the most popular products at the most recent edition of Orgatec. As these personal cubes have a starting price of about €5,000, the cost barrier for many sound booth proposals deters many smaller offices from bringing in this solution – and thus impedes this much needed element from reaching a critical-mass adoption in the workspace. Just how necessary is it? SPACE10 links the open plan to less face-to-face interaction, more conflict, high blood pressure and increased staff turnover.
What the Spacon team realised was that Skyping, phone conversations and smaller meetings – the most common uses for these pods – don’t actually require the full treatment. ‘So a lot of money can be saved on the soundproofing itself, but also on the technical implications that come with full-on soundproofing – from fire safety to ventilation and electricity,’ explained Spacon & X co-founder Svend Jacob Pedersen. ‘This means that sound-reducing booths can be made at about 10 per cent of the cost of sound-proofing.’
 DIVIDE AND CONQUER (WITH TEXTILES)
A truly flexible office doesn’t need standardised fixed paneling, as a single space might serve different purposes. The Spacon team thus worked with three materials that would provide a variety in density: Echo Jazz panels for acoustics, made from recycled plastic; Valchromat high-density fibreboard for more private spaces, and translucent polycarbonate panels that let sunlight shine through. But when the latter divisions need to create more secluded sections, a humble solution comes in: the design team added a curtain behind them.
For a second look at how this textile element could be easily implemented in your own workspace, you can study Sevil Peach’s recent proposal for the new Artek headquarters in Helsinki.
Some companies are guilty of spacewashing their failed HR strategies, but SPACE10 has a solid foundation on that aspect
 NO SPACEWASHING
While these upgrades involve spatial fixes, it is crucial for clients to understand that no interior designer can straighten a crooked HR strategy – just like greenwashing, some companies are guilty of spacewashing their failed managerial implementations. SPACE10, though, has a solid foundation on that aspect: employees are not expected to be online or available after office hours; they also receive a budget for inspiration and education, six weeks of vacation, up to eight months of maternity leave and 10 weeks of paternity leave. There is also a canteen serving healthy food and weekly yoga classes available – and, most tellingly in that list of workplace services and benefits, is the recent addition of an on-site clinical psychologist, for personal coaching.
Spatial design, in other words, is only half the panacea to our current workplace woes.