Photographs that peer into the places where people work always feel oddly satisfying—they fulfill our voyeuristic curiosity about others’ spaces without having to leave our own. That goes double for the offices of architects and designers: Where can you find more interesting spaces than with those who make a living designing them?
The London-based photographer Marc Goodwin has been visiting the offices of architects all over the world, documenting his finds for the rest of us curious interlopers. His ongoing series, which he’s been working on for about a year, has taken him to China, the Nordic region, and most recently to Paris to scope out the digs of leading architecture firms. Goodwin was looking for differences in office design across regions—from the Beijing offices of MAD Architects to the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Paris–and the various ways local character can seep into workspaces.
The verdict? “I wish I had a short answer for that,” says Goodwin. “I’m still trying to work all out in my head.” Many of the offices he shot in London—which included Foster + Partners and the London offices of Zaha Hadid Associates—felt more corporate than the other countries he visited. The Nordic offices were as beautiful, organized, and as minimalist as you might expect. The spaces were most unexpected were in Beijing—”I was taken by surprise by the beauty of some of the Chinese offices; they were quite exceptional,” he says—and Paris, where the offices felt more eclectic and personal.
Still, it’s hard to click through Goodwin’s photos and not notice a prevailing trend: Brightly-lit, white spaces, spare and organized. But Goodwin says if the interiors seem a bit standardized, the exteriors (which he also includes in the series) varied widely, and give the most distinct clues to their whereabouts. The series includes sleek high-rises, renovated industrial warehouses, and, in one case, a gutted brewery-turned-architecture office.
Goodwin chooses the locations of his photography sessions based mostly on logistics; when he finds himself in a city or region for his commercial work, he tries to make as many office stops as possible. That sometimes makes for a tight schedule: In the Nordic region, he was averaging one a day for 28 straight days. Even so, he did notice nuanced ways that a building can shape an office’s culture, particularly when he observed a firm in two different work spaces. That was the case with Danish architects 3xn; Goodwin witnessed the firm’s move from a smaller space in Copenhagen to a larger one, where their operation seemed to flow more organically. “The energy in the new place is remarkably different,” he says. “[Being] spread out in a larger area, it was much more relaxed, and it seemed slightly more intuitive.”
See a selection of Goodwin’s images in the slide show above, and visit his website for more.