The demise of the iconic red telephone box

June 4, 2020

When people think of the UK, they often cite Buckingham Palace, the Queen or the iconic red telephone box. The latter has become harder to find, while another type of telephone box has become popular in offices.

Close to 20 million people visit London each year (at least before Covid-19 hit). A common sight was tourists posing in front of the iconic red telephone box. The first such public telephone kiosk hit the streets in 1921. Since then, several different models were developed, ranging from K1 (the very first) to K8. By 1992, at their peak, there were over 92,000 telephone boxes in the UK. However, this figure has plummeted to only 10,000 telephone booths today. The trend is similar across the world. In Germany, for example, there were 165,000 telephone boxes in 1997. This has dropped to only 17,000 today.


“I’ve seen better times”

This means that it has become more difficult for tourists visiting London to take a selfie in front of a telephone box for their Instagram account. It’s even harder to find one that is still in decent shape. Most telephone kiosks don’t function anymore. Their paint has faded and the glass panels are broken. Step inside and you’ll straight away notice a pungent smell of urine. Hence why the booths don’t even serve as a shelter to escape the British rain. If you’re lucky, you might still find a few near tourist hotspots which are still maintained well.

In contrast, phone booths set up in offices have become hugely popular. Over the past decade, several office phone booth manufacturers have sprung up across the globe such as MEAVO Büro Telefonzellen or Framery.

“MEAVO office phone booths”

A key reason is a trend towards open-plan layouts in offices where employees have little privacy to make calls. Building dedicated call rooms is expensive, plus if you move offices you can’t take these with you. Moreover, most landlords demand that the office is reverted into its original state so the expensive call rooms might even have to be demolished (which again bears more cost). Office phone booths, however, can be disassembled and moved to a new home.

COVID-19 may increase demand for such phone pods further as employees in offices will have to get on Zoom calls with colleagues working from home more than before. Moreover, given social distancing rules, fewer employees could now share a table leading to some meeting rooms being converted to desk space which in turn could further increase the need for space-saving phone booths and meeting pods.

At this point, it is unclear how the future of offices and remote working will look like exactly. One thing is certain, however. The days of the red telephone boxes in London’s streets are counted while their brethren in offices will continue to thrive.


Categories: ,  
JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts
June 16, 2024
Is Solar Energy Right for Your Home? A Comprehensive Guide to Deciding

Table of Contents An Introduction to Solar Energy The Cost of Solar Panels Financial Incentives and Rebates Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy Long-term Savings and ROI Maintenance and Lifespan of Solar Panels Challenges and Limitations Final Thoughts An Introduction to Solar Energy Solar power has emerged as a promising candidate in the quest for sustainable […]

Read More
June 16, 2024
Alice Braga Net Worth: Rise in Hollywood and Beyond

Alice Braga is a Brazilian actress and producer, known for her versatile roles in both Brazilian and international cinema. Born on April 15, 1983, in São Paulo, Brazil, Braga comes from a family of celebrated actresses, including her mother and aunt, who greatly influenced her decision to pursue acting. Her career began at a young […]

Read More
June 16, 2024
Joan Cusack Net Worth: Career Highlights and Wealth Breakdown

Joan Cusack: A Multifaceted Career and Legacy Joan Cusack, a distinguished American actress, has built an impressive career that spans several decades, culminating in a net worth of $20 million as of 2024. Born on October 11, 1962, in New York City and raised in Evanston, Illinois, she comes from a family of actors, which […]

Read More
Welcome to Urban Splatter, the blog about eccentric luxury real estate and celebrity houses for the inquisitive fans interested in lifestyle and design. Also find the latest architecture, construction, home improvement and travel posts.
© 2024, All Rights Reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram