MIT and Google Create Transformable Office Pods

MIT’s School of Architecture’s Self-Assembly Labs has partnered with Google to create these transformable meeting spaces.

The project uses a woven wood structure with fibreglass pods that depend from the ceiling which transforms from a large meeting space into a smaller one.

Transformable structures often require expensive and complex electromechanical systems to create movement. This research explores an alternative approach utilising transformable woven structures that can smoothly transform with lightweight and soft and materials/mechanisms. A series of prototypes were built at different sizes to demonstrate articulating woven structures for various applications.

Transformable Meeting Spaces are aimed at re-imagining interior office or building environments. There are two predominant approaches to office design – open spaces versus fixed offices. Open office plans have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges yet they provide flexibility and collaborative opportunities. Fixed offices offer privacy and quite environments but restrict the type of working spaces available and occupy more square footage.

This research proposes an alternative whereby structures can easily transform between private phone booths, lounge spaces or other quiet meeting spaces into open flexible areas. By utilising woven and transformable materials these meeting spaces can expand and contract to create a meeting room for 6–8 people or morph into the ceiling leaving a clear and open area below.

The MIT School of Architecture’s Self-Assembly Lab has teamed up with Google to create Transformable Meeting Spaces, a project that utilizes woven structure research in wood and fiberglass pods that descend from the ceiling, transforming a large space into a smaller one. Designed as a small-scale intervention for reconfiguring open office plans—which “have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges”—the pods require no electromechanical systems to function, but rather employ a flexible skeleton and counterweight to change shape.