The firm was appointed by the client, a global consulting, technology and innovation firm, to design their new global corporate headquarters in Victoria, London. The office aesthetic represented the variety of sectors in which the client work, with materials used having a focus on the man made element. Materials were treated and amended to imply purpose and human intervention – formed plastics, folded metal, stained timber, perforated metals, whilst floor finishes and fabrics were selected for their repetitive patterns and homogenous effect. The client’s primary role is product development; incubating a rough idea for a new product through to a completed design ready for market. Our briefing process included a period of research and workshops, exploring ‘the timeline of an idea’; tracking how ideas spark, develop and finally solidify. From this research we determined a number of insights which would go on to mold the design, ensuring the office enabled its occupants to be at their creative best. Alongside creativity, our focus was upon flexibility; supported by mobility, ease of use, and non-allocation of spaces. This approach was supported by IT, AV, Furniture and working practices, in order to empower all members of staff to make choices about how best to complete their working tasks. Overall the headquarters is highly mobile with 300 desks supporting 1200 staff and an average of 475 staff working from the office each day – a desk sharing ratio of 1:1.5, alongside a high sharing ratio, fostering understanding and connection with the brand and creating a sense of belonging was a key challenge. Our flexible environment seeks to address this for all users at all times.
Flexibility and enabling creativity were the main focus of the design. Our research resulted in 3 key insights;
Insight 1: “Good ideas rarely happen in a “lightbulb” moment, they require time to evolve and the chance to collide. Old ideas can transform into new ones and new ideas can form from hijacking others.” The office is designed to encourage cross pollination of ideas. Corridors shouldn’t just get you from A to B. They play an important part in the formulation of an idea, providing working spaces which can act as a platform for chance encounters and the collision of ideas. Staff are encouraged to move around the floor plate through the creation of destinations scattered throughout the office.
Insight 2: “There are lots of types of creative people, with many different routines and personalities. Collaboration happens in many ways and in a variety of spaces, it is reliant upon accessibility of colleagues and appropriate variety of spaces.” Desks are non-allocated throughout, giving staff the freedom to be fully mobile. A wide variety of workstation types, locations and furniture gives a rich variety of choice to cater to different tastes and working habits. The office space is legible and equipment is intuitive to use.
Insight 3: “Creativity isn’t enforced by the space, sometimes enforcement is counter-intuitive.” Spaces focus on flexibility, adaptability and interaction; allowing staff to choose how best to utilise their space for the task at hand. We designed a 700sqm flexible work zone, directly adjacent to the main refreshment area, where furniture is mobile and modular. Finishes are deliberately rough around the edges and ‘kickable’, ensuring that staff feel free to modify their environment without the worry of damage. Project spaces in variety of sizes allowed teams to quickly assemble to suit their needs. Large scale tiered seating, small scale sofa presentation spaces and numerous booth seating locations around the whole office allow informal working practices to occur, with wi-fi and AV throughout supporting this mobility.