When the clients initially approached us, their brief was simple. “We’ve outgrown our office and we need more space”. This is a web animation, motion graphics company that bring people together in creative collaboration with different disciplines to create all things: Design, Animation, Original Content, Branding ID, Live Action Production and Post-Production. The design request appeared seemingly simple but when we started thinking of a vision for their space, the first question we asked ourselves was ‘How do we make a bigger, newer space feel as cozy and comfortable as their previous one’? Therein lies the challenge. The design challenge was to take an existing warehouse building and to create an interplay between dynamic, open, social spaces and more intimate working hubs, with flexibility to accommodate a shifting workforce and a diverse program of events. In order to achieve a net positive impact on the end user, one in which they would feel as comfortable we decided to make and ‘brand’ smaller spaces within the larger warehouse shell. Each space was given a unique name and identity to help break down the scale. The main vision for the space was to come up with a planning and layout strategy that created what we referred to as the ‘complete animation loop’: an open path of circulation that would connect different programs and functions along that one complete circuit. Much of the architectural focus went into creating a mezzanine space and on opening up and connecting the two floors programmatically to play host to a series of socialized spaces, from informal reception and informal meeting areas to the artist ‘pit’, open pantry and editing spaces. Furthermore the overall look and feel of the building was designed to reflect the nature of the current occupants of the building and future collaborators: young freelance animators rather than well-established corporate companies. By stripping back the building to its core, exposing all services, revealing the existing structure of ceiling and columns and combining this with utilitarian and inexpensive materials such as polished concrete and plywood, we were able to create a clean modern and raw aesthetic not dissimilar to an active comfortable workshop.
The space is divided into smaller ‘branded’ spaces that allow for a flexible and non-traditional work place. At the center of the main floor plan is the ‘artist’s pit’: a flexible workplace that is envisioned as a meeting, gathering, and optional work space. Adding to the informality is the placement of an open pantry, informal walk-up reception desk and book nook all integrated into the pit. An echo of the client’s mission of ‘bringing people of different expertise together to make a creative vision – We’re the client loud and clear’, our design embraces and celebrates the bold and whimsical attitude of its staff and transforms it into a single clear narrative. This encouragement of freedom and flexibility is emphasized in the way the stairway from the ‘pit’ connects the two floors and becomes a loop in both planes – spatially and volumetrically. The wide bleacher type seating in the pit makes for a natural gathering place and area for relaxation. The upper mezzanine level houses a large conference room, private offices, editing bays and a bar high work top counter along the length of the staircase giving staffers great views into the open pit area below. There are other spaces for breaks and informal meetings throughout the office—a communal lounge; a foosball table area with soft flooring that looks like ‘lichen’ to give the feeling of being outdoors; a designated stage area equipped with green screen and hi-tech camera equipment to shoot backgrounds; and a series of small, strategically placed snack and coffee counters. The cumulative result of all these varied spatial typologies is an environment that promotes casual interactions that lead to many happy creative impulses. Adding to a work environment that celebrates informal and formal collaboration, the finish palette is intentionally kept light. Clean white walls working against raw concrete surfaces and pastel accents mixed with blonde plywood, custom lighting and soft flooring echoing those shades of white and grey, all augment the natural brightness of the windows to subtly communicate the spirit of the company.