A feature of the project is the creation of a wide variety of settings in a relatively modest floor space in order to present individuals with options about where, and how, they work or socialize within the new workplace. Whilst staff are assigned an allocated workplace, there has already been much greater physical movement by individuals choosing to relocate according to need or preference across the course of a day or a working week than previously experienced.
The ethos underpinning the project is best represented in the creation of a central ‘events space’ for key activity. Located in the centre of the plan, this open yet partially obscured space was created by cutting a large void in the upper floor and folding the new floor plate down to the lower level in a series of tiered platforms. This open ‘box’ creates an internal connection between floors and reflects the intention to promote curiosity and increase the opportunity for staff to come together. The ‘events space’ serves as a venue for major presentations, meetings and for social events. It also serves as a project space where groups of various sizes can choose to occupy the tiered seating and utilize the setting’s IT and AV functionality. Informal seating options dot the perimeter of the events space, which can be used for smaller meetings or by staff seeking a more secluded zone in which to complete a task.
By creating this plethora of nooks and crannies that offer a variety of work and social settings, there has been a marked impact on the two open plan ‘formal’ work zones located at the rear of the floor on both levels. With staff able to relocate and exercise choice over their place across either floor, the open-plan work-desks, where a majority of the architects are situated, are much less frenetic for the absence of competing demands and distracting activity.
A significant outcome of the project has similarly been the increase in communication across project teams and the heightened awareness of individuals about the full extent of activity being undertaken within the practice. Lunch and coffee breaks have become more social occasions due to the priority is given to the creation of a communal café and dining setting adjacent to the entrance. Sited at the front of the building, this space offers attractive views over Flinders Lane and has become a focal point for discussion as well as a preferred place to convene impromptu work meetings and host clients. Conceived as a ‘third space’ and as an atypical workspace, this zone is characterized by the use of robust industrial materials and fittings.
Perched at the imposingly long kitchen bench fashioned from steel beams and Oregon floor joists reclaimed from the cutting of the central void, and looking back across the office, the impact of the project on the nature of the practice is evident. Whether it’s the ‘public’ library at the entrance, the beating heart of the tiered ‘events space’ or the thread of creative enterprise tying it all together, it is obvious that this is an environment focused on the act of creation and is exactly what the practice set out to achieve.