• 07.25.14

Forget Cubicles: This Office Replaces Desks With A Giant Rock To Climb

With nooks and crannies to help you get creative with your positioning, you’ll no longer have to choose between sitting or standing while you work.

Even if you’re disciplined enough to spend an hour at the gym every day, the depressing fact about office jobs is that sitting at a desk the rest of the time will still put you at risk of dying early. Getting a standing desk could help, though no hard proof yet that standing all day is much better; what really works is moving around more often. Maybe what we need aren’t redesigned desks, but completely redesigned offices that help us move.


A design from architects at RAAAF and artist Barbara Visser takes a new approach: Instead of the usual desks and chairs and cubicles, this office looks like a giant rock, full of nooks and spaces to climb and work. “This vision presents a radical break with regular office furniture and current working models . . . which all are still based on sitting,” the designers, based in the the Netherlands, write. “This is a first step towards a future in which standing at work is the new norm.”

No one in the office would have a regular desk, which would keep people moving throughout the day. “It’s designed out of a thousand different possibilities for working in positions between standing and laying,” the designers say. “The key is that the sculpture’s affordances stimulate people to take up different working positions during the day. The richness of this landscape gives people the freedom to find the optimal position for the different tasks.”

It looks a little like a scaled-down version of this rock-climbing office near Boston. The project was commissioned by the government in the Netherlands, and will be built later this year for an exhibit. Here’s hoping it inspires some new offices to abandon desks altogether.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.