Bürolandschaft (literally, ‘office landscape’) was originated by two brothers, Eberhard and Wolfgang Schnelle, in around 1958 in response to the seismic societal changes happening in post-war West Germany.
People had become suspicious of hierarchies, and the country was suddenly far more equal and egalitarian than ever before. At the same time, West Germany was experiencing rapid economic growth with modern, new, productivity-driven enterprises exporting to the world.
These conditions inspired the brothers to reject the status quo of office design and take a radical new approach. At the time, most European office spaces separated workers behind closed doors. In larger spaces, groups of clerks, typists and other lower-grade admin personnel would sit in rows of desks. These layouts reinforced strict office cultures and protocols.
Bürolandschaft had a revolutionary effect on these spaces, and today represents the dominant approach to planning an office environment. Open-plan offices, pot plants, office cubicles, irregular geometry and informal break areas are all innovations that we continue to see today.