The answer to the question, “A communal workshop or doors that close?” is yes. That is, both configurations, even though they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, bring a significant improvement over the now-typical cubicle farm layout.
The problem with cubicles is that they provide most of the drawbacks of the two extreme configurations we discussed without providing any of their benefits. First, cubicles do not isolate workers like private offices would, so they are often interrupted and distracted by nearby conversations. But cubicles are not truly shared spaces either, and therefore they do not allow for the continuous coordination and awareness that a communal workshop provides. To my knowledge there is absolutely no evidence in the literature that shows that cubicle layouts are better than any of their alternatives for software development work; they should be avoided if at all possible. Choose the ability to concentrate or the ability to coordinate. It’s rather foolish to choose neither.