Making Place:

The recalibration

of work, life, and place

Making Place:
Revisited 2022

Almost three years ago, IPUT published a comprehensive global research project, ‘Making Place’, to examine the relationship between work and workplaces, and the recalibration of work, life, and place. In this 2022 report update we look at how we need to respond to the identified themes, the importance of focussed investment in the public realm and putting placemaking and communities at the core of development.

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Office recalibration

As we see our working lives being transformed through technology, we have reached a point at which we need to reflect on what this means for the future of physical offices and the communities surrounding them.

Five spatial typologies

We have identified five different spatial typologies that can help guide us into ensuring offices maintain their important economic and social functions while at the same time contributing to making our cities more enriching and sustainable.

Number 1

Watering holes

Places that attract people to linger, meet and socialise: this is based on the experience that employees see work as a social experience.

Number 2

Street classrooms

Places that bring people together in formal and informal knowledge exchange: this recognises that employees seek opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills.

Number 3

Cultural canvases

Places that can be shaped curated,and programmed by people and communities: this recognises that employees seek opportunities to express individuality as well as shared culture that can lead to a better sense of belonging and identity.

Number 4

Mind labs

Places that invite people to come together around shared issues, ideas and challenges: this recognises that employees seek opportunities to share ideas and challenges with their peers that can lead to greater breadth of problem-solving.

Number 5

Mind gardens

Places that support people’s individual and restorative thinking processes: this recognises that employees seek opportunities to think and contemplate ideas and challenges on their own that can lead to greater depth of problem-solving.

Real world examples


1. Watering holes

Alley Oop is an urban space in downtown Vancouver that invites the public to play in a laneway between commercial buildings.


2. Street classrooms

The steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York attract all kinds of citizens to linger at the entrance of this knowledge institution, merging people’s experiences of the exhibitions with their experiences of public life.


3. Cultural canvases

IPUT Real Estate’s high profile Tropical Fruit Warehouse development in Dublin city centre is being used as a canvas to showcase artists.


4. Mind labs

Arup’s Melbourne office includes a Sky Park with public access where employees and citizens alike can take outdoor meetings in any of the space’s diverse seating areas.


5. Mind gardens

IPUT commissioned award-winning landscape architect Robert Townshend to create an urban park as part of its Earlsfort Terrace redevelopment in Dublin’s central business district.

Niall Gaffney

We need to recalibrate offices to make them attractive to today’s working mindset. That means offices need to work harder to be part of sustainable places both socially and economically.

Léan Doody

We now recognise that workplaces offer unique experiences that are not available when working from home. Those experiences include social and cultural fulfilment as well as opportunities for learning and collaboration.

Yolande Barnes

We are seeing a new paradigm in economic geography: successful landlords will be stewards of their neighbourhoods rather than just their buildings.

Making it work

The role of the employer

The employer is the daily enabler, custodian, and manager of workplaces and workplace culture. The company should engage with workplacemaking to support a variety of interactions between colleagues that ultimately lead to greater employee satisfaction, wellbeing, and productivity.

The role of the city

The city is the ultimate legislator, regulator, and facilitator of quality workplacemaking. The city should engage with workplacemaking to bring the productivity and enjoyment of citizens closer together, to create an overall more resilient and liveable urban model.

The role of the developer and landlord

The developer is the initial creator, builder, and maker of places for working and living. The developer should engage with workplacemaking as a way to future-proof real estate projects against short-term market fluctuations.


The rise of the white collar worker


Live at work

Before the age of industrialisation, people would sleep, work, and play on the land that they farmed, or they would build places to live and socialise above places fit for making and selling goods.


Live next to work

The second industrial revolution brought about mass production, assembly lines, and electrical energy. This period marks the first significant split of the place of working from the place of living.


Live away from work

At the beginning of the 20th century, the invention of the car, together with the rapid expansion of road and public transport networks, quickly changed the meaning of proximity and distance.


Work at home

Towards the end of the 20th century, information and communication technologies had entered the world, creating a new dimension of access that further catalysed the global knowledge-based economy.

The conclusions of ‘Making Place’ still have application. The city needs to have close dialogue with developers to build commercial buildings that are active, interesting, and inviting and this ambition needs to be written into local area plans and building permits.
Camilla van Deurs, City Architect City of Copenhagen, Denmark
Making Place’ was written at a unique time when the world was experimenting with new ways of working with no ‘best practice’ to follow. The publication is still a useful resource to remind policymakers and urban stakeholders to adopt a flexible and agile outlook on cities.
Carlo Ratti, Director MIT Senseable City Lab, US
Neighbourhoods will increasingly accommodate more, new and different uses and matter more and more as places of human experience.
Yolande Barnes, Professor of Real Estate at The Bartlett, University College London, UK
Making Place’ is still relevant. In fact, an even more holistic approach is now key, linking the quality of office space, amenities and the immediate surroundings to the wider environment.
Lisette van Doorn, CEO, Urban Land Institute Europe
Encouraging workers to return to the office remains a challenge for many organisations making the need to focus on investment in the public realm and placemaking more important than ever.
Niall Gaffney, Chief Executive, IPUT Real Estate Dublin
Looking forward

The success of our cities is likely to be impacted by how well these places succeed in bringing people together to share ideas, skills, and experiences that can lead to new, better outcomes.


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