Circular buildings that reflect the Holacracy business philosophy

Holacracy is a business management style which does away with traditional hierarchical management systems and replaces them with automonous teams known as “circles”. Holacracy can influence the design of corporate buildings.

A new exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery by the Artist Simon Denny features round sculptures that resemble architectural models turned on their side. They were inspired by the circular designs of GCHQ in Cheltenham, Zappos retail headquarters in Las Vegas and Apple’s new campus.


Zappos, the online retailer, is owned by Amazon. It is so proud of their round corporate headquarters, it sells tours of the building. Zappos follows the Holacracy principles and this is replicated in the architecture of their headquarters.


Apple’s new campus, due to be completed in 2016, is a four story elevated ring. Its minimalist architectural style replicates Apple’s approach to product design. An Apple spokesman said: “We wanted this to be a walkable building – that’s why we eventually settled on a circle.”

Apple has not embraced Holacracy fully, but its innovation culture has elements of it. Apple states that the building’s concept is collaboration and fluidity.


GCHQ, the Government’s secret communication organisation, is housed in a building nicknamed the “doughnut”. Viewed from the air, it is circular with a hole in the middle. It is rumoured that GCHQ is experimenting with its own form of Holacracy group, but as it is a secret administration, no details have been released.

Obviously not all round building represent a Holacracy organisation – some prisons have been built as round structures, and sports clubs that build round stadiums usually have a strict hierarchy management style.

The shape of buildings can represent the philosophy of an organisation, and round buildings are reflecting a move away from hierarchical management structures.

Posted by Matt Hughes
December 8, 2015

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