Imagine a work world in which the PowerPoint presentation for your weekly team meeting was projected from a vintage carousel horse, a midday snack meant plucking an orange from an indoor grove near your desk, or your daily commute required traveling 100 feet underground to a former nuclear war bunker submerged beneath a mountain via tunnel. For workers employed by the companies that made our list of five of the world’s most ogle-worthy offices, these seeming fantasies are actual realities of a typical day at the office.
(Indoor orange grove at Google Tel Aviv | Photo: Itay Sikolski | Camenzind Evolution)
For a full rundown on the designs, locations, amenities, and other bells and whistles of some of the world’s most breathtaking office spaces, see the complete list of our top five picks below (and stay tuned for “Coolest Offices: The U.S. Edition,” coming out next week).
Coca-Cola (London, England)
(Entrance to Coke’s Wimpole Street offices | Photo: Morey Smith | Firm’s Website)
Located in a four-story, 66,000-square-foot space in a 1920s Edwardian, Baroque-style building on Wimpole Street in central London, the red, white, glass, and wood-adorned stomping grounds of Coke’s 300 UK headquarter employees are “a celebration of Coca-Cola’s heritage and place in popular culture,” according to designer MoreySmith. Highlights include a roof terrace, cafe, Coke-bottle chandeliers, a brick wall adorned with a faded vintage Coke ad, and historic Coke memorabilia scattered throughout the space.
The show-stopping centerpiece, however, is without a doubt the sparkling 15-foot comet-shaped chandelier that “stops people in their tracks” when they first walk through the door. The Stuart Haygarth-commissioned installation consists of more than 80,000 “acrylic ice chunks” dangling from invisible micro cables lit by glowing LED ribbons.
“I wanted to create something that was literally out of this world, powerful, dynamic and would glow with energy,” said Haygarth, who used the comet concept to evoke the idea of an ice cube “creating a fizzy trail of bubbles” through a cold glass of Coke.
“A comet is basically an icy small Solar System body made up of ice, dust and rocky particles hurtling at great speed from outer space producing a trail of bright light,” he explained.
Project completion: 2014 | Check out more images, here.
Avito.ru (Moscow, Russia)
(Avito.ru cubbies | Photo: Andrey Shugay | Office Snapshots)
Located in a 114,969-square-foot space in the White Gardens Office Center in Russia’s capital, the offices of online classified company Avito.ru are nicknamed “Avito Village” to reflect their countryside-inspired design (created by Russian firm Meandre LLC).
Design highlights include a reception desk made of wooden fruit trays (complete with real fruit), elevated cubbies accessible by ladder, a fake barn and miniature wooden houses, a grass maze, a glowing star-studded wall, a life-size birdcage, fish tanks, an assortment of hammocks, porch swings, rocking chairs, and sheep-shaped stools, tree-shaped whiteboards, rooms with an entire wall of fans and a ceiling made of fruit, and “grass hillocks” scattered throughout the office.
(Avito.ru hammocks and cubbies | Photo: Andrey Shugay | Office Snapshots)
Project Completion: 2015 | Check out more images, here.
Google (Tel Aviv, Israel)
(Interior Shot of Google Tel Aviv | Photo: Itay Sikolski | Camenzind Evolution)
Covering seven rented floors within Tel Aviv “Electra Tower” skyscraper, Google’s 86,000-square-foot Israeli outpost features, among many other mind-boggling amenities, a massive slide, a real-life orange grove, a LEGO room, a music room, a rooftop deck with sprawling views of the Mediterranean Sea, and 490 work stations (as if it would be possible to work under these conditions).
(Slide at Google Tel-Aviv | Photo: Itay Sikolski | Camenzind Evolution)
Each floor of the office focuses on “a different aspect of the local identity in mind, illustrating the diversity of Israel as a country and nation,” according to Swiss designer Camenzind Evolution, who collaborated with local firms Setter Architects and Studio Yaron Tal on the project.
Themes include “Culture & Heritage,” “Friends & Family,” “Joy & Optimism,” “Energy & Vitality,” “Innovation & Hospitality,” “Dream & Delight,” and “Humor & Fun,” which, in addition to design details, are expressed through three different restaurants with kosher, non-kosher dairy, and non-kosher meat cuisine.
Other features include a main entrance that resembles the historic “Port Tel Aviv” sea port, an indoor desert, hallways designed like small town streets, picnic table seating, and themed meeting rooms filled with props like novelty surfboards and tractors.
(Tour of Google’s Tel Aviv Outpost | Video: Office Design HD | YouTube)
Project Completion: 2013 | Check out more images, here.
Ogilvy & Mather (Guanghzou, China)
(Vintage carousel at Ogilvy Guangzhou | Photo: M. Moser & Associates | Firm Website)
Located in an industrial building in the artsy Liwan district (formerly Fangcun) in Guangzhou, China, Ogilvy’s surreal, carnival-themed offices are dripping with a slew of surprising, imaginative props and details, including prancing carousel horses and a glowing red and yellow bulb-dotted staircase meant to resemble a film marquee.
(Glowing red staircase | Photo: M. Moser & Associates | Company Website)
Ogilvy and designer M. Moser developed the office’s “A Carnival of Ideas” theme to fulfill the global communications firm’s desire for “a space that would stimulate creative interaction — and attractive creative people,” according to the designer.
To achieve this, M. Moser implemented a layout meant to simulate the experience of taking a journey. A red corridor guides visitors through the two-story, 2,900-square-foot space; a secret door opens into a pantry/”break-out” area, in which brick walls and an industrial concrete ceiling are juxtaposed with leather armchairs and a small-scale replica of a vintage carousel; and a suspended walkway connects to a mezzanine/loft area that serves as “a perch from which to regard the intricate activity below.”
Additional highlights include high ceilings, natural light, glass viewing panes, and a plethora of balconies with views of Liwan’s bustling cafes, restaurants, and art galleries.
(Ogilvy’s secret-door accessible breakout area | Photo: M. Moser & Associates | Company Website)
Project Completion: 2008 | Check out more images, here.
Bahnhof (Stockholm, Sweden)
(Bahnhof’s glass and granite conference room | Photo: Ake E:Son Lindman| Albert France-Lanord (A)rchitects)
If you think pushing through midtown Manhattan subway crowds during rush hour is rough, imagine if your work commute required traveling hundreds of feet below a mountain to a former Cold War nuclear bunker accessible only by tunnel and 16-inch metal doors.
As difficult as it is to imagine, that’s exactly what employees of Bahnhof do everyday. The space, which Bahnhof, Sweden’s first independent Internet service provider, took over in 2008, is called “Pionen,” and its ogle-worthy office status rests as much on its fascinating history and physical attributes as it does on any superficial design attributes.
Originally constructed as a civil defense center in the 1970s, the bunker/office is submerged in bedrock 100 feet below the White Mountains in the Sodermalm borough of Stockholm and can reportedly withstand a hydrogen bomb.
(Conference Room Exterior | Photo: Ake E:Son Lindman | Albert France-Lanord (A)rchitects)
The ironclad storage facility is now home to approximately 200 GBs’ worth of some of the internet’s most valuable secrets (Bahnhof hosts WikiLeaks, for example). To ensure that its clients’ information remains secure, the data center’s tech and security specs include, among other things, “two redundant diesel generators [backed up by Maybach submarines], battery backups to cover shorter power outages, and a state-of-the-art smoke and gas detection system,” according to the company.
In addition to the Pionen name, Bahnhof preserved many elements and objects from the original bunker including a sign near the entrance that reads: “These doors should be locked at DEFCON1,” as well as a telephone, ashtray, blueprints, an old radio from the ’70s.
When it came to incorporating new elements into the space’s current incarnation, architectural firm Albert France-Lanord (A)rchitects “consider[ed] the rock as a living organism.” According to WIRED, new design elements include a waterfall and plants reminiscent of the 1972 Bruce Dern movie Silent Running.