This 2008-2009 design collaboration on the future of work in the city, with DEGW under funding from the Architectural League of New York, explored the dynamic possibilities of a single question: what if the entire city was your office? Drawing inspiration from the shared office spaces of the coworking movement, Breakout! creates alternative venues for collaborative work outside of traditional office buildings by injecting lightweight versions of essential office infrastructure into urban public spaces.
Originating in Lower Manhattan, Breakout! explores the potential of public plazas and parks throughout the Financial District to serve as gathering points for workers from throughout the city. From this hub, organizers fan out across the city, bringing satellite “breakout sessions” to diverse public locations. During the second half of Breakout! our growing social network will “breakout of Manhattan,” by turning transit into workspaces as we travel to coworking hubs throughout the region – in Westchester, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Every Breakout! session provided three sets of tools to help office workers escape dull cubicles and conference rooms and re-locate their work in public settings:
- Lightweight infrastructure – chairs, tables, electrical power and wireless Internet
- Social software – a web portal accessible locally and remotely for scheduling sessions, seeing who’s there, and recording their social media produced during sessions.
- Facilitator’s guides – An automated help system that will provide cues and information for session facilitators to help jumpstart collaborations and sharing, to create value and a novel work experience that takes advantage of public spaces.
Watch a short video interview with Bits and Atoms founder Anthony Townsend for more information about what inspired the project.