Book review: New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation

reviewed by Mina Di Marino and Thérèse Bajada

21 Oct 2021, 11:40 a.m.
Mina Di Marino and Thérèse Bajada

New Workplaces book cover

Book review: New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation

Edited by Ilaria Mariotti, Stefano Di Vita & Mina Akhavan and reviewed by Mina Di Marino and Thérèse Bajada

Milan: Springer, 2021; 303 pp.: ISBN: 978-3-030-63442-1, $169.99 (hbk), ISBN: 978-3-030-63443-8, $36.98–$159.00 (eBook)


In the last 15 years, new workplaces (such as co-working spaces (CSs), maker spaces (MSs), fablabs and other collaborative and shared spaces) have been increasingly evolved in their planning, design and management, as well as in the daily life of their users (e.g. freelancers, entrepreneurs and students, and more recently, employees). Emerging workplaces and new ways of working are causing several changes to our cities, regions and society which are not fully explored yet. Moreover, new workplaces are established (albeit not restricted because of emerging research in rural areas) in urban areas. In these areas, new workplaces are continually contributing to transformations, such as, socio-economic, cultural, spatial and technological. The understanding of new workplaces is a complex issue for researchers, practitioners and stakeholders, and lately, city planners, policy makers and local governments. On one hand, this complexity is a result of the myriad of theories (social capital, urban economics and economic geography, open innovation, new sharing economy) and research methods (qualitative, quantitative and mix-methods); on the other hand, it is due to the variety of socio-spatial and economic characteristics, as well as functions and uses of these new workplaces. Thus, even the concept of new workplaces is generally subject to multiple interpretations and understandings depending on the perspectives, which are usually from social science disciplines (including sociology, architecture, urban and regional planning and economics). Indeed, the knowledge of theories, methods and practices in the field of new workplaces is itself intertwined with the economic, physical, socio-cultural and planning dimensions of each context.

This book provides the opportunity for readers to gain knowledge about the complexities of the nexus between new workplaces and urban and regional changes. This nexus is characterised by four factors. First, the interactions being established by new geographies. Second, the lack of or enhanced spatial extent, which is granted by digital innovation, focus and exposure to new small-scale manufacturing. Third, the synergies involved between the institutions and organisations that facilitate these interactions. Fourth, private and public actors who are key in making the change and also cope or thrive from the continual evolution.

Readers will find a limited number of books on the topic of new workplaces, such as Creative Hubs in Question: Place, Space and Work in the Creative Economy edited by Gill et al. (2019) and The Flexible Workplace: Coworking and Other Modern Workplace Transformations edited by Orel et al. (2021). The former critically looks at defining creative hubs using examples from Europe and Africa, while the latter provides an overview of flexible and hybrid workplaces and examines how they influence cultures. Essentially, New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation, edited by Mariotti, Di Vita and Akhavan (2021), provides knowledge about new workplaces and showcases relevant case studies from the Western Developed World. The chapters contribute to unravelling details about new workplaces, location patterns, trajectories and future trends from multiple perspectives (such as planning, architecture, economics and geography) that can be relevant to the large audience of experts and non-experts seeking a varied perspective.

New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation provides an understanding of the phenomenon prior to Covid-19, which will be the basis for examining the post-pandemic effects on new workplaces. Thirteen chapters refer to studies that were conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic, while one chapter by Manzini Ceinar and Mariotti discusses how the pandemic will re-shape new workplaces. The volume will attract a readership that wants to understand the proliferation of new workplaces in the pre-pandemic period, and it can be used for future comparison in post-pandemic studies and scenarios.

The book provides a comprehensive understanding from different research backgrounds of new workplaces by the editors inviting 18 scholars from diverse fields, such as sociology, architecture, urban and regional planning and economics. The cited cases in the 14 chapters have occurred in Italy (in several Italian cities and regions, as well as studies at the national level), UK (London), France (Loire Valley Region), Canada (Ontario), USA (Seattle, Detroit and Silicon Valley) and an international survey.

The book is structured around four parts which give an overview of new workplaces from a varied perspective that includes ‘phenomena’, ‘actors’, ‘places’ and ‘agenda’. The first part, ‘Phenomena’, comprises two chapters by Akhavan and by Manfredini and Saloriani. This part encompasses the whole perspective of the book, firstly, through a multidisciplinary literature review, and secondly by applying a relatively innovative data mining approach to extract Twitter data. The second part, ‘Actors’, includes another two chapters that explore the role of stakeholders in new workplaces from the co-workers’ point of view (Mariotti and Pacchi), and from the academic discourses on innovation with particular reference to maker spaces (d’Ovidio). The third part, ‘Places’, is the core of the book with eight book chapters that present studies on the analysis of co-working, maker spaces and fablabs in city-regions, metropolitan areas and city neighbourhoods, by exploring typologies, locations and effects on the urban environment from several perspectives (economic, planning and architecture). The fourth part, ‘Agenda’, sets the outline of what the future of these new workplaces might be. This part is composed of three chapters. Armondi and Di Vita delve into policy and planning, Manzini Ceinar and Mariotti discuss the potential effects of Covid-19 on CSs, looking into patterns and future trends. To conclude, Mariotti, Akhavan and Di Vita depict future research on new workplaces.

Referring to methods for analysing new workplaces (and mainly co-working and maker spaces, as well as fablabs), the contributions to New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation provide a wider spectrum of quantitative and qualitative analyses (e.g. surveys, descriptive statistics, counterfactual analysis, direct observations, interviews and visual documentation), as well as spatial analyses that will be relevant to readers. Some authors have used mixed methods, and they have conducted spatial analyses at both the regional and local scale (see e.g. the chapter by Dierwechter and the chapter by Leducq and Demazière in ‘Place’), while others have compared different socio-economic contexts and typologies of new workplaces (see the chapter by Fiorentino and Livingstone in ‘Place’ and the chapter by Mariotti and Pacchi in ‘Actors’). Interviews and surveys provide perspectives from both users and managers of co-working and maker spaces, as well as knowledge workers from multi-locational places (see the chapter by Pajević and Shearmur in ‘Place’). One chapter in the section ‘Phenomena’ by Manfredini and Saloriani applied the concept of big data in new workplaces research by data mining 11 case studies from Twitter and by exploring proximity in view of CSs and MSs according to tweets. The Twitter analysis reveals the development trajectory of CSs and MSs from an academic and practical viewpoint, respectively.

The geographical focus of the book is on the countries which have been pioneering the increasing phenomenon of workplaces (see the proliferation of maker spaces in the USA and Italy, as well as increasing number of studies on co-working spaces in France, the UK, Italy and Canada). However, a more varied number of countries would have given a wider overview of the ways in which new workplaces are influencing and are being influenced by location, urban effects and development trajectories. It would be interesting to also see specific works from South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

The collection should also inspire future publications and additional edited volumes on new workplaces, some of which may well find their way into the Springer Series. In addition to the approaches presented in New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation, future projects might seek to extend towards emerging perspectives and disciplines that are now working more closely on new workspaces, such as Information Technology, transport management and organisation studies, health and well-being, as well as environmental psychology.

We believe that New Workplaces – Location Patterns, Urban Effects and Development Trajectories. A Worldwide Investigation does an important job in providing an array of definitions to CSs, MSs and fablabs. Hence, the book is suggested for readers who want to learn about new workplaces and those who are already conversant in the field but want to revisit what new workplaces mean. In addition to providing definitions, the book portrays perfectly well what the establishment of new workplaces implies for the location, the urban environment and the future perspectives. Readers and teachers on new workplaces might find the book helpful to recommend several chapters or the whole volume to students entering the field, particularly with regard to literature review, discourses in academia and policy and planning. The different topics (e.g. policy and planning, and economics) and methodologies (e.g. empirical evidence and spatial analysis) presented in the contributions offer different perspectives on new workplaces that will nonetheless be of interest to civil and entrepreneurial associations and business operators, as well as planners, policy makers and users of the new workplaces. Thus, we find that this book is, without a doubt, relevant to many scholars and practitioners in the field of entrepreneurship, policy and planning and related fields working on the ever changing urban and work environments.



Gill, R, Pratt, AC, Virani, TE (eds) (2019) Creative Hubs in Question: Place, Space and Work in the Creative Economy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Orel, M, Dvouletý, O, Ratten, V (2021) The Flexible Workplace: Coworking and Other Modern Workplace Transformations. Cham: Springer.
Google Scholar | Crossref


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Spatial and temporal segmenting of urban workplaces: The gendering of multi-locational working by Brendan Burchell, Darja Reuschke, Mary Zhang

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