We’re always on the lookout for interesting, groundbreaking and downright unusual solutions for the workplace. And this certainly caught our eye.

The Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has combined the creative might of MIT and Google to tackle the recent backlash against the much-maligned open-plan office.

With the recent Oxford Economics survey suggesting that Millennials want a quiet office as much as anyone, we’re seeing more creative ways to try and give people the privacy that they’re clearly crying out for in an office design.

Transformable meeting spaces

MIT and Google are looking at flexible structures using innovative materials that can transform into quiet meeting spaces. They created a wooden cocoon that can expand up to 10 feet in diameter and 8 feet tall around a group of up to eight people, shielding them from the rest of the office. It then contracts back into the ceiling.

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This video shows it in action.

Transformable Meeting Space from Self-Assembly Lab, MIT on Vimeo.

Without any electronics or technology involved, 36 fibreglass rods create a moveable skeleton beneath an interwoven textile skin that’s covered in a walnut cocoon. It undoubtedly looks very cool and the engineering of the counterweight system is particularly impressive.

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This is clearly at an early stage and the broader implications certainly raise some interesting ideas about what the workplace of the future might look like, but the practicalities of crouching to get inside seem a little off-putting.

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It also raises some interesting potential uses during the office Christmas party! Just imagine the shenanigans that people could get up to!

At the moment, the only working prototype is at the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT. But who knows, maybe we’ll see adaptable modern office furniture like this dropping down, popping out and transforming offices in the near future?