Making Place:

The recalibration

of work, life, and place

How can we recalibrate offices to make them attractive to today’s working mindset?

In our Making Place report, we look at how to embrace new ways of working alongside a renewed relationship with the office and the local neighbourhood.

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.


Making Place

The report examines what we as employees are looking for from our workplaces, and what that teaches us about how we can narrow the gap between the physical make-up of the places in which we live and which we work. 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.

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Five spatial typologies

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’s high profile Tropical Fruit Warehouse currently under construction in Dublin city centre is being used as a canvas to showcase work by emerging Irish 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.

In the enthusiasm of working from home some things are being missed. The way we teach younger people coming up through the business is by giving them the opportunity to learn from senior staff.
Susan Freeman, Partner, Mishcon de Reya
The number one reason that people come to the office is for that social interaction with colleagues.
Jim Morgensen, VP Workplace, LinkedIn
Personal contact is key to establishing corporate culture – so the place is important. People need to come together to feel connected.
Lisette van Doorn, CEO Urban Land Institute Europe
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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