History – Timeline


In the early 19th century, offices were nonexistent, meaning that the office space that we know nowadays was not as is back in the day. In the 1800s, the “office” was just a room in either a shop or at the house. The office worker used to have tasks such as paperwork and handover of finances. Thus, the office used to be made out a desk and a chair.Even though at this period it used to be a simple task which where being looked into, the beginning of the office was created.


By the 1850s, the office space started to get transformed into entire floor due to larger handover. As stated by the UK government : “for the intellectual work, separate rooms are necessary so that a person who works with his head may not be interrupted; but for the more mechanical work, the working in concert of a number of clerks in the same room under proper superintendence, is the proper mode of meeting it”.


By the 1900s the offices started to look even more similar to what is described as the tradition office. The offices of this era used to consist of various desks strategically placed in which workers used to have little room to communicate due to tasks located per individual : The Larkin Administration Building, the first modern office, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opens.

In 1906 The Larkin Administration Building,designed by Frank Lloyd Wright the first modern opened. It was the most modernistic office of this era,and also a milestone in architecture and design of the office.larkinlightcourt

Fig 1  – The Larkin Administration Building by Frank Lloyd Wright


The concept of open plan offices was created for the Johnson Wax company  by Frank Lloyd Wright. This architectural piece had an impact on the workers and also the customers. This office layout enhanced the productivity level due to more monitoring by the supervisors thus the workers worked much hard due to more pressure. Another advantage this office layout had was the lower costing of the entire office. When working in an open plan office one feels more free due to heightened productivity thus, well-being is heightened and costing where lowered due to common lighting solutions. 22-700x466

Fig 2 – Johnson Wax company  by Frank Lloyd Wright


As the years gone by the office environment adapted accordingly. Through the years, offices shifted from  basements to an entire building of over 30 stories. Due to high buildings, offices became even more expensive due to more natural lighting and less noise pollution at the top levels. An architectural piece that clearly shows this was by Architect Mies Van Der Rohe designs the Seagram building in New York, the type of workplace now recognized in dramas such as Mad Men.



By the 90s offices where more luxurious in a way. This is mostly because of high demand and greater income. As offices had better resources so did the worker. In the 90s office space where mostly inspired by hotels. This source of inspiration led for offices to be and also feel more free , meaning that one office worker could move around more freely and also swap desks according to one’s preference due to no fixed location of one’s desks. Even though this office was not the most popular since the office task varies from one to another it was still the most popular in the U.S.


Inspired by the new office layouts of the 90s the 2000s was when the office was completely transformed. The new and improved office adjusted with technology, thus, the office division of space didn’t need to cater for static workspace but could even more free. This lead to the introduction of new office layouts such as the narrative, nodal , neighborly and nomadic.




Image reference figure 1 – unknown. 2016. office. [ONLINE] Available at: https://criticalstudiessite.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/f6164-interior.jpg. [Accessed 1 June 2016]

Image reference Figure 2 – unknown. 2016. office. [ONLINE] Available at:http://whowhatwhy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/22-700×466.jpg%5BAccessed 1 June 2016]


BBC. 2016. How the office was invented – BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23372401. [Accessed 01 June 2016].

WIRED: WIRED. 2016. Evolution of Office Spaces Reflects Changing Attitudes Toward Work | WIRED. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wired.com/2009/03/pl-design-5/. [Accessed 02 June 2016].

Nikil Saval. 2016. A Brief History of the Dreaded Office Cubicle – WSJ . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304885404579549800874319342. [Accessed 02 June 2016].











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