Coffee shops are full of people on their laptops, entrepreneurs doing deals with potential clients, students writing their essays, businessmen accessing their emails. What, however, if what is needed is confidentiality, silence to concentrate, the ability to print a document or to have a noisy face to face conversation on skype?
Originally appearing in 1926 to the design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, with changes over the years, there were more than 70, 0000 of the iconic red phone boxes up and down Britain in the 1970’s and also in Malta, Gibraltar and Bermuda, and examples can be found across the world, for example in Portugal and even Cuba. Today, with the advent of mobile phones, they have shrunk in numbers. Podworks is adopting 300 of them as private secured individual offices, accessed on a subscription membership, to provide wifi, scanner, electrical and usp connections, colour printer, voip phone to UK numbers and coffee/tea maker. Tourists appear to be taking the lead in enquiries – as a good way to keep in touch with home. Available 24 hours, if you can sleep upright, they may have another use after a late night party.
A win-win, the funding allows British Telecom to maintain these iconic boxes and it gives them a new lease of life in the 21st century.
Cuba has entered the technological age with 135 wifi hotspots, mostly in open areas in Havana, where the users have to sit on the kerb, the pavement or other makeshift furniture, with no privacy and little shelter from the rays of the hot sun. The designers Luis Ramirez and Michael Aguilar have developed proposals for Parawifi, a system of modular pods, reminiscent of modular furniture, on show at the London Design Biennale at Somerset House, to provide individual spaces powered by photovoltaic cells that could be combined with other uses to create internet villages. A great idea, but while it provides security and comfort, would it really provide much protection against Cuba’s hot climate?
At 100% Design this week, the company Framery has been showing its new individual spaces designed for comfort, privacy and silence in offices, a contemporary equivalent of the iconic telephone box, with the option for larger double-size ones which provide a desk and are less potentially claustrophobic.
Three different responses to the issue of private flexible internet space. As Framery says on its website “Great thoughts thrive in silence”.