The best one of these I’ve ever been in was one that was set up based on this, which is a good starting point I think. The one I experienced was at an open-house performance art night, so was much noisier and more overstimulating than I imagine a workshop would be, but the combination of badges that showed if someone was willing/not willing to chat, plus having earplugs available, worked really well and seemed to resolve the ‘what if some people want to chat and other people want quiet’ problem.
Much in line with largecardinal’s experience, it wasn’t a super busy space, but people drifted in and out. I don’t think they had games in the space, just books and (I think) some tactile stuff, and I’m pretty sure they only had earplugs available as hearing protection, but otherwise it was pretty close to the description in the link, and it seemed to do the job. It was simple and low-budget and it was really great, and I used it, and after a bit I felt less like I was crashing, and then I went and enjoyed the rest of the night.
(mostly a side note, but: one thing from the above link I disagree a bit with is the idea it’s essential to have a person on the autism spectrum design a given quiet space, and I say this as someone with an Aspergers diagnosis. I think that presupposes way too much about why people might use it, and I also think it is generally a bad idea to tailor access features with the potential for wide appeal to specific diagnoses. Someone might need to tap out for a bit because they’re autistic, but they might also need to because they’re trying to fend off a panic attack, or because they didn’t sleep well the night before, or because they’re hung over, or because they just need a minute to process a thing they just learned, and all of those people might concentrate better and enjoy themselves more after taking a few moments in a space where they don’t have to run as many brain background processes for a bit. I 100% agree with Alex that everyone can benefit from relaxation between learning, and I think designing for a broad range of reasons to use a quiet space is preferable to thinking too rigidly. That said - I also think autistic people as a group tend to have useful ideas about sensory design, because we tend to have to think more about what makes an environment good/bad/bearable/unbearable. But anyway.)
The worst quiet space I have ever been in was one at a pretty large tech event (naming no names ) which was horrible on a sensory level (fluorescent-lit, lots of sound leakage, very hot, a very loud heavy door that was impossible to close quietly) but the thing that really ruined it was that there was no structure or ground rules on how people should interact in the space, or any indication of what the purpose of the space was other than a sign saying QUIET ROOM on the door. No one was sure of how they should behave in there, so people were dipping in and out and anxiously asking people already using the space if it was okay for them to be in there, and what it was for, and if they had to have permission to use it, and it was immensely stressful to be present for! I think it could have been improved just by putting a sign up explaining what it was, even.
I would personally (as a cis woman) feel pretty weird and uncomfortable and not good at all about the space being gender-segregated, but I’m struggling to unpack why I feel that way right now so not sure if I can make helpful suggestions on that front. I think having clear rules about what kind of communication/contact is off-limits in the space might be a better way of dealing with this (do not touch other people in the quiet space, for instance)?
I don’t need quiet spaces very often, but they are often a welcome addition for me, and they very very rarely make the difference between me having to go home, and being able to stay at an event. As largecardinal suggests, just knowing the space is there is one less thing to worry about, which makes it less likely I’ll burn myself out enough to need to use it.
Sorry if this is really muddled and hard to read, I should be asleep. I hope some of it is vaguely useful.