New wave office inspired by Wrocław train station becomes darling of the design world
An IT firm in Wrocław has won the attention and admiration of the nation’s lifestyle and architectural press after unveiling a new office space inspired by the city’s nearby train station.
Designed for CodeLab by the Poznań-based studio mode:lina™, the 500 sq/m office has earned plaudits for the manner in which it has captured the spirit of the city whilst simultaneously breaking down concepts of hierarchy to instead place an emphasis on teamwork, creativity and the open exchange of ideas.
Speaking to TFN, Alicja Maculewicz of mode:lina™ explained that the final design took shape following prolonged consultations with the end client. She said: “As an IT firm CodeLab specialize in ‘putting out fires’ and rescuing clients at short notice.
“As such, we initially thought about creating a superhero den with a secret entry that would not reveal the true purpose of the company.”
Though the superhero motif was dropped, the idea of a non-standard entry struck a chord with CodeLab who in turn suggested riffing on a local landmark such as Wrocław Główny train station.
Paweł Garus, co-founder of mode:lina™, said: “The train station – which is beautiful – is actually visible from the office windows, so we took the idea on and advanced it.”
Developing this further, references to the station’s rich pre-war interiors were incorporated – among other aesthetic touches, the reception area found itself styled in the form of a ticket booth window whilst platform signs were placed to help visitors navigate the office’s space.
Looking delicious on the eye, elsewhere further nods to the station were delivered via a striking neon, a conference room fashioned to resemble a vintage train carriage, train station-style lockers, a cafeteria area, and arrival /departure boards attached to the walls.
Moreover, with CodeLab’s company mascot being a green rubber duck, these too found themselves featuring highly in the design.
“We wanted something that corresponded to CodeLab’s brand identity,” said Maculewicz. “Wrocław is famous for its trail of gnomes, so we decided to create a mash-up between these and the CodeLab rubber duck.”
As a result, depictions of ‘duckmen’ dressed like gnomes were left scattered throughout, peering from the graphic art adorning many of the walls – some of these can be found driving trains, others engaged in office tasks such as answering phones or rushing to a meeting.
“They’ve helped personalize the space,” says Maculewicz. “Employees find a new one each day so I like to think of them as our little hidden Easter eggs given the way in which they surprise people.”
But more than just playful in its appearance, the office has been – above all else – designed to be practical in its function. “The sound solutions we have included are one of the great aspects we’re proud of,” said Garus.
He added: “The most important thing was to create a space that would enable people to fully concentrate on their work so we were very careful to pay attention to the acoustics and set aside areas where you can meet, gather or work without disturbing others. This all sounds obvious, but you need to remember these things.”
More than a fleeting fad, the trend towards such inventive office spaces found itself accelerated by the pandemic and has now been embraced the world over.
Maculewicz said: “We’re seeing more and more offices designed to look like cafés or chill-out zones; after the long lockdowns people are more demanding with regards to what they want from an office.
“People got used to working from home, so nowadays the office has to offer something that home cannot so it is important we make the transition between traditional cubicles to friendlier, healthier work environments.”
Proven to increase productivity and stimulate creativity, the new wave office has also broken down traditional barriers between employer and employee.
“CodeLab really wanted to call out their lack of hierarchy – they wanted a space where there wasn’t this feeling of being called in to see the boss in his office,” said Maculewicz.
Garus added: “There is no segregation. There is no instance where team leaders have better chairs or a nicer work station, and that all goes to help the mood of everyone else. They feel a connection with each other.”