Space Planning Models

There is a variety of ways in which different roles and tasks are carried out in the office environment. Each manner has its own level of interaction between staff as well as its own level of privacy / autonomy that can be achieved. After an analysis of the space requirements, it should be determined which of these cultures provide the best course for the organisation. It may even be possible to apply a combination of methods for different departments if required.

There are four different space planning models, each with its own particular autonomy and interaction properties:

  • Hive (low interaction & low autonomy)
  • This kind of layout is ideally suited for routine processes such as data entry and call centres.


  • Cell (low interaction & high autonomy)
  • This kind of layout is suitable for concentrated professional work such as accountants & legal departments. This is relatively old school and the tendency is to move away from this kind of layout.


  • Den (high interaction & low autonomy)
  • This is well-suited to highly creative environments with active team work such as those in media production


  • Club (high interaction & high autonomy)
  • This is ideally suited for knowledge work such as IT & consultancy where a high level of interaction is required between team members working on the same project.


Each of these models implies a different approach to the use of space. The trend in general offices is to move away from the highly structured hive (production line) and cell (quiet individual units) models towards dens (noisy open space) and clubs (a variety of work settings). Whilst dens can provide a lively social environment and high levels of face-to-face interactivity, they can, in fact, lead to high distraction levels. Therefore, it is the technology-supported club environment that is proving to be most attractive. In these environments, traditional “den” activities such as information exchange and trading no longer depend exclusively on face-to-face contact.

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