FUN NEIGHBORHOODS IN THE DROPBOX OFFICE BY RAPT STUDIO

Workspace design in the last years has been the most exciting and challenging project typologies for me in the recent years (since to 2016 if to be precise – this project was released and I completed my Master in the Workspace design). Projecting an office is the biggest responsibility ever – the company wants most of it and the individuals working there, in the end, will spend half of their life there…
Rapt Studios have challenged themselves to create the unique sense of place and identity for each of the 2,000 employees on the 28,000 m2 of the DropBox Head office in San Francisco in the 5-story building. They have approached the issue seriously – talking with the employees about the ex-office and the processes that didn’t work for them. Resulted there was much to correct – the workspaces were uniform and people were not relating to it, the linear layout was disruptive and non-collaborative.
Rapt studio has come up with the inspiring concept of the village with a strong core and the neighborhoods expanding around it. This allowed creating subcultures and communities of 40-50 people within a company. Employees could share the life and workstyle within the office and create a dynamic of their work/social life within a company – marketing people would socialize and network more, meanwhile, engineers would be heavy users of the focus area. Navigation around the office became a pleasant experience as well as it got a more radial interconnected structure with its own “landmarks” and points of interest in each neighborhood.
The lobby entrance is an interesting twist: you do not see a hint to the dynamics in the office behind the mirror wall. Meanwhile, the office is quite different from the minimal app look and the simplistic user experience, the entrance hall is a double height mirrored wall transmits the depth of the endless storage possibilities and engagement behind it. The natural organic shapes of the best spoke elements is a confidence, smooth flow and the existing status quo in the office.
Behind the mirror kingdom – the spaces are designed in the different scale, colors and sensorial experience to stimulate different moods and working styles in the office.
Navigation is also an experience – the ¨roundabouts¨ that appear on the crosspoints between the target areas are the light charged circles (backlight illuminated tensed fabric in the ceiling) featuring unconventional informal meeting spots. So informal that sometimes a plastic dinosaur can be a background of it.
The most emotional space of the office would be the Library – it is a real-world retreat. The designers used the old European Opera of the ’70s as a reference. Indeed, an analogic library in a high-tech company is a special mission. People come here to reconnect to the physical world. A soft warm glow fills in space when the sun daylight hits the flush pink carpet. Ribbon-like archways full of books wrap up the space that rises above extra long walnut table with the retro lamps and chairs.
On the other hand, there is a family attic for the informal gatherings and music sessions. This is a throwback in a company history when it was a small start up the team gathered in a karaoke bar and now the employees can ¨blow off the steam¨ in the acoustic enhanced space.
The dark concentration area is a crisis handling room for a deeper focus for diving into the problem and getting it solved. It looks a bit like a dark galactic space from the action movie. Space right behind is a ¨deep focus¨ suite. People normally do not talk there – they are inside the machine.
Brilliant.

*Photography – Eric Laignel

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