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Real Business : Issue 2 2009
OFFICE DESIGN BREAKING OUT OF THE CUBE Hassell’s Bangkok design studio (left and right) excels in sustainability, while the APRA head offi ce (below and far left) boasts natural light and open spaces. So where to begin? Architect and founder of Smart Design Studio (SDS) in Sydney, Australia, William Smart is uncomplicated in his philosophy: “Good design facilitates the happening of good things.” Th e starting point for SDS’s recent re-fi t of the Australasian Performing Rights Association’s (APRA) Sydney head offi ce in a heritage-listed Ultimo building is testament to that. Comfortably housed across four levels, APRA’s offi ces are not full of whizz-bangery or the latest in trendy high-tech gadgetry. Rather, the workplace is a clean, open, inviting space that has a calming eff ect on its visitors and occupants. SDS has embraced the idea of health and happiness in this workplace and it is reiterated in all aspects of the design. Its most striking feature is the three-level atrium, which is bordered by open-plan workspaces and the glass-walled offi ces of the department heads and CEO. Organisational transparency and connectivity is implied in this layout, as is the idea of mobility, with self-contained work benches another option to the rows of white workstations. What these benches accommodate is the increased need for hot-desking – as companies work towards a paperless offi ce, their employees can take their laptops and literally work from anywhere. SDS has also addressed the need for diff erent types of communication and, William says, the APRA offi ces refl ect this “conscious decision to create workplace change”. Positioned at centralised locations throughout the plan are lounge areas for informal meetings, while the benches are teamed with stools, so that people can either stand or sit, depending on their mood or the needs of the job at hand. China, Hong Kong, Th ailand and Singapore. Th eir portfolio in Asia continues to grow, with the LEEDS Gold Sustainable Workplace for Deutsche Bank – one of the largest tenancy agreements in Kowloon’s ICC Tower – due for stage-one design completion in 2010. It is Hassell’s recently completed workplaces, however, that are creating a buzz for their key ecologically sustainable development (ESD) initiatives. Th e practice’s own Bangkok studio was completed in 2007 and it clearly speaks to the increasing need for energy effi ciency in the workplace. Th e Bangkok studio is slick in line and form, without being intimidating or pretentious. Colour is a prominent feature, with a palette of white, grey, black, orange and red dominating the small space. It makes for a lively and creative working environment, as well as being designed to reduce energy usage through a reduction in air-conditioning requirements, lowered lighting levels and the use of low-energy equipment. Independently controlled task lighting means that employees are able to control the low-energy environment, which also contains low-level beam lighting. G OF EMPLOYEES, IT ALSO AFFECTS A COMPANY’S BOTTOM LINE. Ground level houses a café that allows staff to mingle informally, adding to William’s belief “that an offi ce doesn’t have to be bland”. Certainly, employers can no longer aff ord to have workplaces that are mediocre – not if they want to retain valuable employees. As William states, “in the changing world of technology, the line between work and home is much more blurred”, so the ideal workplace has to be enticing. What constitutes the ideal workplace is dependent on the clients’ needs and the resulting design is customised to meet these needs. Th is relationship with the client is such an integral part of the design process that architectural fi rms such as Hassell even have workplace design capability statements in place. As one of Australia’s oldest architectural practices, Hassell has offi ces in fi ve Australian cities, as well as cpacareers.com.au In the APRA offi ces, too, the SDS fi t-out utilises a displacement air-conditioning system and a digital addressable light interface lighting system, as well as individual lighting units for each workstation. Another joint characteristic is the fi ltration of natural light. Natural light makes for an environment that is opposite to the stereotypical oppressive offi ce box. And as anyone who has spent long hours in a dim offi ce lit by fl uorescent light knows, a design that lets natural light enter the workplace is not to be underestimated. But is good workplace design under threat from simple mimicry? Are we in danger of developing another form of offi ce box: one that is full of natural light, plenty of room to move and a café, granted – but will this become the new bland? Th e aesthetic diff erences among well-designed workplaces are innovative enough so that bland is not an option. Th e similarities between interior structures and details are simple confi rmations that we each hold the same values – even though we work in diff erent environments. And it’s the commitment to upholding these values that contribute to health and happiness in the workplace. 33 32-33_OfficeDesignv3_RB907.indd 33 32-33_OfficeDesignv3_RB907.indd 33 OK WITH CORRECTIONS DESIGN EDITORIAL PUBLISHER CLIENT By signing your initials in the space provided you are either approving this layout or authorising the listed changes. CORRECTIONS TO MAKE DATE OK DESIGN EDITORIAL PUBLISHER CLIENT ADVERTISING 9/07/2009 5:57:55 PM 9/07/2009 5:57:55 PM
Issue 1 2009
Issue 1 2010