I’ve written extensively about how physical spaces influence thinking (e.g. Future Minds, Fast Company etc.), but I didn’t realise until recently just how much research there was on this. For example, Joan Meyers-Levy and Juliet Zhu, two Profs at the University of Minnesota, ran a study that found that high ceilings activated abstract thinking and thoughts of freedom, whereas low ceilings activated concrete thinking and thoughts of confinement. In other words, high ceilings are good for inspiration and big idea generation whereas low ceilings are good for small detail and implementation.
A further twist on this is the idea of cells, hives, dens and clubs espoused by Francis Duffy at DEGW architects. The basic idea here is that hive offices suit routine or low level process work with low levels of social mixing and autonomy, cell offices facilitate focused brain work with little social interaction, den-type offices suit team work and club offices do a little bit of everything.
This possibly explains why my solitary home office is useful for some tasks, my busy boat office for other tasks and the manic café best for something else.