Pare Down Your Work Style in a Modular Office

U.K.-based typeface design company The Northern Block’s new office is modest, efficient, and took just five days to assemble. The company partnered with 3rdSpace, a studio founded in 2010 with the mission of creating exceptional small buildings. The Northern Block’s space is constructed out of black timber and plenty of glass, to maximize views of the beautiful Northumberland countryside it calls home. We reached out to 3rdSpace director Ben Couture via email to find out more.

The Northern Block's new Northumberland office. Image courtesy of 3rdPlace.
The Northern Block’s new Northumberland office. All images courtesy of 3rdSpace.

How big is the office, and how many people can it accommodate?

The structure can seat up to five people. The internal floor space is 137 square feet.

Can you give us an idea of the budget for this project?

The total project cost was around £30,000.00 including VAT. The advantage to a business is that over two years, building one of our modular offices works out to be cheaper than renting a city office. You also own the building, which can always be relocated or extended. The standard cost for one of our buildings of this size (a 4 Bay model) is £25,050.00 including VAT and installation.

This particular building — 3rdSpace’s standard model — can accommodate up to five people, but there are opportunities to expand the space as needed.

3rdSpace has previously used their modular system primarily for spaces housing just one person. Given that this is an office, what were the difficulties in translating this model to a shared space?

One consideration that came with multiple-occupancy was making sure it did not get too warm inside. The buildings are very well insulated, which helps keep a stable environment, but for this one is was particularly important to have the glazing facing north to avoid excessive solar heat gain.

The mission for this project was to provide a “functional and inspirational environment.” How does that goal shine through in the final product?

In terms of function, we maximized floor space by having the storage wall-mounted (off the floor) and made the five meter long desk ‘float’ on cantilever brackets so to avoid obstruction for legs when working in pairs or small groups. The workspaces are not defined by divisions, which makes them more flexible.

The interior provides the minimal, balanced space that our customer required — their type design work uses similar principles and the space provides a 3D representation of their values.

Nothing extraneous — just looking at these images makes us feel more focused!

What were the particular challenges or successes of this project?

As our buildings are always detached, it is crucial to have power supplied to the space. In this case we had to dig a forty meter long trench along our customer’s driveway to bury an armored cable — each site comes with its own challenges.

This project is particularly successful, we feel, thanks to its location. It is great to have one of our buildings set in a rural location, with sweeping views of the surrounding Northumberland countryside.

A note to readers: 3rdSpace hasn’t completed a building outside of the U.K. yet, but with the right partner, expanding to the United States is something they’d consider.

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