Not all design inspiration comes from private homes and apartments. Public spaces, which are often created by top architects and designers, offer a wealth of stylish décor and design ideas for your own home. HomeDSGN brings you an array of hotels, office buildings and other public environments that feature stunning interior design elements, alluring ambiance and innovative lighting. With a little imagination, these elements can be incorporated into any home interior design.
By Courtney • Oct 23, 2019
On a quiet but conveniently placed city street in Brighton, England, creative designers at GTA Interior have created new office spaces for leading video game software development company BossAlien.
The update of the company’s old offices was spurred by the sudden procurement of a fantastic new contract. While this new arrangement was sure to boost the company into even bigger success and opportunity than it was already garnering, it also required a better and more effective workspace than the office situation at that time was providing employees and developers. Executives decided that there’s no time like the present to make beneficial improvements if it means simultaneously improving the quality and quantity of work they can produce for their clients.
BossAlien was contracted to produce a useful and intriguing new mobile game for a major franchise. In light of this, the decision was made to use that big project as an opportunity to build a brand new workspace that more effectively reflects the brand and where it’s headed, while still keeping the company’s existing core values at the forefront.
The description of the company’s goals that was provided to design teams was that they aimed to create a “home away from home” for their staff, who occasionally spend long hours in the office dedicated to producing high quality games that they’re actually passionate about. Executives as BossAlien firmly believe that their teams deserve the best things in return for their hard work, so they wanted to ensure that their offices live up to that standard as well.
The result was a unique and creative environment that we’d actually even describe as fun, despite being a place of work! After all, the company exists in an industry in which enjoying the work process only makes sense. The environment is engaging and innovative but also gives off a residential, homey atmosphere designed to make teams and guests alike feel comfortable.
The new office spans three whole floors, giving the company much more space to work with than they previously had access to. Despite wanting to take full advantage of all three floors, executives and design teams wanted to make sure that the flow of energy, information, and movement didn’t feel cut off between the floors, nor the staff working there.
In order to combat this isolation and division issue, designers proposed turning the second floor specifically into a collaboration floor. They wanted to make it into a space where staff from the other two more focused work floors might meet, work together, brainstorm, and swap ideas in a way that’s much more connected and interactive than many offices foster.
The collaboration floor consists of a large primary meeting space and an open kitchen and break area that is available to all staff, no matter where or how they’re working. It also features a tiered style seating structure that creates a diverse and changeable space modelled after classic town halls. These spaces encourage staff from all over the wider office to meet here, establishing it as a kind of central hub of knowledge and activity.
The company’s work values weren’t the only thing designers wanted to display and pay homage to within their design. They also took these new offices as an opportunity to incorporate the company’s unique setting, the unique and creative artistic community that calls the city of Brighton home.
The new space reflects Brighton in many ways. Decor details from the timber pendant lights to the custom neon artwork reflect the handiwork of local designers and artisans. Even the the break space incorporates local culture right into the office because it serves local beer and coffee, thereby benefitting and supporting other businesses in the area.
Perhaps the best display of local art and culture, however, is the set of large graffiti murals on the second floor. These colourful, eye catching pieces were designed and painted by Brighton based street artists Snub23 and Will Blood. Each piece of artwork spans large portions of the wall and supports. Both are one of a kind works of art customized specifically to the space.
The tones, colour schemes, and materiality are all a combination of modernity and natural chic. Industrial influence can be found in the exposed ceiling systems and the shape of many furnishings, while natural looking raw plywood and dark stained wood can both be found in joinery and support details. Warm tones and visually textured carpets are incorporated in other details to provide pops of interest and contrast against the otherwise urban aesthetic.
Unique seating options and individual work or break spaces contribute to the whole idea of making the space feel like a home away from home. Hanging dish chairs add a playful touch, for example, reflecting the fun nature of the company and what it develops.
Photos by Portico Photographic Marketing
New business site called Industrial Building created by derksen | windt architecten with practicality and sustainability in mind
By Courtney • Oct 7, 2019
In an ever-changing and always developing business park area in the city of Rzenburg in The Netherlands, the need for a brand new, fully equipped business premises has been fulfilled by innovative designers at derksen | windt architecten, who recently completed the Industrial Building.
The first goal that the design team wanted to reach in creating this building was one of sustainability and low environmental impact, both immediately and long term. They also wanted to create something unique and striking in terms of style and aesthetic, which is why they chose to work with inspirations like rhythm when it came to designing shape and proportion.
The finished result was a modern take on traditional sawtooth roof buildings that are typical to the industrial area and its history, but this time with a much more open concept, locally sourced and repurposed materials, and a larger emphasis on on allowing natural sunlight to flow into the work spaces and fill the rooms.
Even just this use of light contributes both to making the building less impactful on its environment, as well as to making it slightly more modern in its functions despite some elements looking typical of old brick industrial warehouses. Not only does the easy flow of light reduce power use, it also lifts the spirits of anyone working or visiting there, unlike some old fashioned brick buildings where the interior feels dark, closed off, and not necessarily welcoming.
In the process of choosing their materiality, designers noted that many old industrial buildings look quite temporary thanks to their bare-bones materials and unfinished aesthetic, when in actual fact they’ll often stand and serve a pivotal function in a community for years. Thinking about this was how they opted to try and establish a slightly different appearance this time around.
The materiality of this new building is much the same; it is afforded a sense of strength and businesslike functionality thanks to the use of brick, steel, and concrete. Designers made sure, however, to give the space a slightly more finished looking… well… finish! The space is minimalist and practical but it doesn’t like ramshackle and thrown together like it might soon be torn down.
Because the building is part of a small-scale business park that isn’t far from the Rotterdam ports, it’s a great potential location for all kinds of businesses. That’s why the next step of the project, following what you already see here, is to split the sprawling, open concept space into four different business units to create a functional but free flowing business park.
The fact that the space will eventually be shared by several businesses within one very open and naturally lit space, but that it also still resembles a traditional factory on the outside, creates a unique blending of several things. Not only are aesthetics between interior and exterior spaces contrasting, but the sense of modern business routine and old fashioned factory work brings new and old, contemporary and historical together. It’s a stylistic and cultural combination.
Of course, the sawtooth shape of the building does more than just hearken back to times past and reference older styles of architecture. In this particular building, the translucent tiles built into it are also an integral part of the green heating, cooling, and lighting systems. This is another specific point where history, style, function, and modernity all cross over.
Another more contemporary element that certainly wouldn’t have been found in brick industrial buildings of auld but that proves extremely useful in this building is the presence of several skylights and in-line window frames, as well as rolling doors. These appear to break down visual and occasionally physical barriers between indoor and outdoor spaces, making the building feel expansive and accessible.
There might not be much to say about decor yet, before the separation into business units and settling in of company teams has occurred, but the facade adds some rhythm and depth to the space and establishes a colour scheme. Masonry skill is clear in the brick surfaces while translucent triangle portions balance out that neutrality and natural materiality with modern geometry.
Photos by Rene de Wit
By Courtney • Oct 4, 2019
Amidst the breathtaking scenery of Virunga National Park, innovative design teams at Nicholas Plewman Architects have recently finished a stunning tourist retreat called the Bisate Lodge.
In its shape, aesthetic, and materiality, the lodge has a number of distinct and very evident inspirations. The first is very natural; the beautiful rounded shapes of the volumes and much of the furniture inside were specifically built to reflect the rolling hills of Rwanda’s countryside.
As far as materiality and construction style are concerned, the lodge has another key inspiration as well. Here, designers harnessed the beauty (among other elements) of the King’s Palace at Nyanza, particularly in its thatched design. Much of the volumes’ construction is done in the traditional way but with the bolstering of modern technology. The thatching on the outside, however, is done completely authentically.
The lodge in its entirety sits nestled amongst lush growth areas adjacent to the wide open space of the Volcanoes National Park itself. The volumes weave in and out of the greenery in a way that makes them appear blended and coherent with their surroundings. This was intentional on the part of the designers, who wanted to make sure that the lodge thoroughly reflects Rwanda’s extremely organic culture.
At the same time, however, the team wanted to add more than a small hint of sophistication into the mix as well! In the finished product, this goal is apparent in every space. This is partially thanks to the unique and interesting shape of the private rooms, which are spherical. The public spaces, on the other hand, have a slightly more modernized look that’s sustainable and contrasting to their surroundings but also subtle enough to blend well with the more traditional areas from space to space.
The overall effect is a comfortable design that celebrates modern luxury and local culture all at once. This heavily influences the guest experience, as the lodge has become notorious for the way it actually offers visitors a way to bond with and get to know pieces of Rwandan custom, art, and culture in a way that’s immersive but comfortable and welcoming.
The look, shape, and style of the lodge aren’t actually the only elements that have something quite unique about them. The manner in which the volumes had to be constructed to protect the integrity of the surrounding area and park was also a little unconventional.
First, the pieces of the lodge were developed as prototypes in Cape Town, South Africa, in spaces where designers lived close by and access to space and materials was easy. Once the team had everything just as they wanted it, the final product versions of the lodge’s volumes were taken apart, sent to the chosen site in Rwanda, and reassembled there.
Since the site of the lodge is quite remote, which is part of its pleasantness and appeal, all of the systems that power it had to be quite innovatively created. They are fully incorporated into the structures and inner workings of the lodge and they also function entirely off-grid, making the whole place independently powered and self-sustaining.
All things considered, Bisate lodge is actually quite a step forward in the world of architecture, particularly within the local area in which it sits. Besides being shockingly comfortable and serene, the lodge is also a merging place for modern construction techniques, sustainable living systems, and top shelf luxury with traditional materiality and cultural consideration.
Photos by Crookes and Jackson
By Courtney • Oct 4, 2019
Along the edge of a lovely road called Peach Tree Road, in Tibet, China, a beautiful natural landscape has been transformed into the home of the Sanzee RV Self-Driving Campsite, which was conceptualized, designed, and built by CM design.
The actual plot of land that the campsite calls home sits on an embankment that was naturally formed by the twisting of the Yarlung Zangbo River. This gorgeous area is dotted with clusters of shady, beautifully sprawling willow trees and provides visitors with a 360 degree view of the breathtaking snowy mountains that completely surround the area on all sides.
Those are not, of course, the only natural elements that make the scenery around the campsite practically irresistible. The site is also home to countless ancient peach trees that range in age from 300 to 500 years old. Gesang flowers grow all around these, in amongst the various kinds and sizes of rock, as do miscanthus, different mosses, several types of ferns, and other green shrubs.
Despite sounding quite rural, the campsite is actually pretty accessible. Right not, it sits just south of the Lalin portion of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which is soon to open and which will make the site even easier to reach for those who don’t drive. This makes it a great vacation spot for international visitors.
Right from the beginning, designers based all of their concepts on the idea of respect. More specifically, they wished to respect both the culture of the area in Tibet they were building in, as well as the natural integrity of the landscape they were building upon. They is what the close relationship between nature and architecture, which can be seen clearly in the finished product, was born from.
The utmost priority during the building process was preservation, particularly of the ancient peach trees. Where stones could be spared from their original locations, they were put to reuse in building structures and roadways so that the new elements of the site would blend in well with its stunning location, in a way that forms some kind of organic bond.
Where the structures aren’t built from the very stones that were repurposed where the natural landscape could spare them, they’re formed from steel. This gives the buildings that are accessible to the RV parking spaces strength and weather resistance, but also prevents them from clashing with or distracting from the natural surroundings, continuing that blending goal that designers upheld right from the outset.
This steel and stone combination is also what makes up the sign and gates that constitute the main entrance of the campsite, creating a sense of consistency throughout the location. The height of the entrance adds a sense of grandeur to the space in the way it mirrors the height of the trees, making it stand out without overpowering the beauty of what people really come there to see: the natural landscape.
The wall of the entrance continues around the outsides of the park, but in a way that is interesting, cohesive, and unique. This is thanks to the way designers actually incorporated natural elements on the outskirts of the park into the wall itself. In several places, for example, the newly made wall stops for a natural rock or tree, leaving it space, and then picks up again on its other side, lying flush to the edges of whatever the natural landmark is but without hurting it or interrupting its natural beauty.
The manner in which the wall incorporates natural elements has a few multi-faceted benefits besides just continuing that ongoing goal of blending the campsite into the landscape. Firstly, it saves on materials to let the wall work with these things, rather than extending it to go around them. Secondly, it creates a lovely visual effect that looks rhythmic, dynamic, and dimensional.
Walking paths that weave throughout the campsite and allow visitors to take full advantage of the beautiful location they’re staying within pay similar respect to the landscape’s elements, particularly the peach trees. Site builders avoided clearly anything in the path’s creation, weaving it around and through any parts and patches that could safely host the path instead. The direction of the path was, therefore, largely determined by things like the location of flowers, the density of trees, and the natural meandering of the river.
Even the construction of the reception centre was designed with an homage to the landscape in mind. It was created in a modular sense through the stacking of natural metal shipping containers. These were strategically placed and built up in ways and directions that suited the height of the natural stone, looked cohesive with the mountains, and simply created shaded courtyards and even a barbecue area without taking up or requiring the clearing out of anymore natural space than necessary.
Smaller details help to integrate the reception building more visually with the land as well. For example, flower pools boasting blossoms that were already native to that specific area have been built up outside and all around while steps, wherever they were required, are built from locally sourced but repurposed wood.
Following suit with everything else built on the campsite, the infinity pool that was built off the reception building, just above the edge of the Yarlung Zangbo River, was built in a way that visually reflects the beauty of the landscape and mountains, but also avoids interrupting and detracting from its more immediate natural surroundings. Its edges and stares were made, as before, from locally sourced reclaimed wood and so were the benches around it. These spaces together create a stunning vantage point for enjoying the scenery, socializing, and resting.
A short distance from the reception building but past the RV parking sits a multi-level tent camp. This was built in a way that works with the natural undulation of the land, but using an anti-corrosive wooden platform to even out the actual ground on which the tents sit, for comfort. These unique plateaus provide unparalleled views of not just the Xue Ga Ru Snow Mountain and the river, but also the vast and starry night sky.
Photos by Zhi Xia
By Courtney • Oct 3, 2019
In a beautiful green setting that adds tranquility to the busy streets of Shanxi, China, innovative designers at Sangu Design have recently completed the Cheng Dong Building, a peaceful and multi-faceted public space that was, once upon a time, a simple public toilet in a park.
From the outset of the updating project, the antique building was destined to become something a little more meaningful. Design teams wanted to create a space that people might actually wish to spend time in, drawing them out the lovely green area outside and letting them experience architecture rather than just barely registering it as they pass in and out.
They did this by prioritizing the value of art all throughout the process. This is not to say that they covered the new space in art, but rather than the way it was built, its layout, the furnishing and materiality choices, and the way the shapes in the new space seem to undulate and move were all deeply inspired by visual beauty and artistic elements.
Because it sits in a park that is located in a city, the building is intentionally designed to contrast with its very urban backdrop. Designers wanted to create a space that might feel like a moment of respite from the fast-paced and ever changing nature of modern city life. They also wanted to provide visitors with somewhere that they might cross the generation gap; the building is intended for all people to be able to enjoy spending time there together.
They tried to hit this mark by making a space that is undoubtedly modern and updated from the original little building that stood there, but that also avoids being over equipped with unnecessary features that might turn some people off from using the space or finding a level of comfort there.
With these values in mind, the space became geared towards human connection rather intentionally. It is meant for socializing, meeting friends, and exchanging knowledge in a way that is direct, face to face, and not just learned through the Internet or using devices. The space is like a haven for passing on stories and experiences.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a completely unplugged or technology free space. It is actually full equipped with modern conveniences and also a nice place for one to, say, study alone using their devices. The designers’ goals were simply to create an experience that, while modern and useful, doesn’t contribute to an overuse of technology and an overwhelming of information.
This building is actually part of an ongoing effort by many different design firms in cities across the world to establish good human connection in everyday routine by creating beautiful, peaceful, and experiential spaces where one wouldn’t necessarily think to enjoy themselves. The logic is that, by creating spots that feel friendly, inclusive, connected, and calming in everyday places like parks, public toilets, and train stations, cities can help foster improved social attitudes and experiences in a way that’s subtle and passive but effective.
For this specific project, designers were also very cognizant of the fact that they were transforming an antique structure within an ancient city. The little green area where it sits might look urban now and be very high traffic, but it still bears a particular history and cultural context. That’s why the team also wanted to create something that makes sense in the space and doesn’t clash.
Designers visited the original spot and found an homage to ancient Chinese architecture and a sense of harmony between the building and its surroundings. As the project was already not permitted to completely dismantle the original foundation m they opted to work with certain key pieces of what was already there, preserving elements like the foundation and sidewalk and incorporating them into the new design.
The team then got creative with the new aspects they built, planning an unconventional design that still bore details of ancient local architecture and prioritized natural, local materiality rather than introducing completely foreign materials that might make the new building look very out of context.
The building was kept purposely low to the ground in order to let visitors’ attention wander to the ancient wall surrounding the park, rather than detracting from it. Off a main corridor, the space is now separated into three distinct rooms: the restroom, the coffee room, and the reading room. Each is geared towards modern convenience and comfort without being unnecessarily technological.
The corridor that leads to each space is quite open concept, inviting, and accessible. In fact, the original walkway that has run through the park for many generations was actually allowed to run right through the new building so that people may wander in and out very easily at whim. Here, you’ll even find a pet watering area because the designers really meant it when they said all are welcome.
Although the sense of space in the building is free-flowing and easy, the separate rooms, which have distinctly different functions, don’t interfere with each other. The reading room is a place for quiet and rest, while the coffee room is gear more towards group socializing and refreshment. The convenience of an easily accessible bathroom makes this place a good resting spot for busy tourists and a nice meeting spot for residents of nearby buildings looking to meet friends or exercise their pets.
The space is actually entirely accessible in terms of ability as well. Only one step is included in the building, near the coffee room, but all rooms can still be accessed easily by those using mobility devices of different kinds. On the doors throughout the building, handles are placed at all different heights to accommodate people of all different heights. They are even specifically cut in terms of their shape to make them easier for people who are holding drinks to open.
In addition to being quite open concept, each room also feels quite free of barriers thanks to large windows and glass walls all around the outside. These let natural sunlight flow in during the day and make the plants and greenery outside feel like a part of the indoor space as well. The heavy use of natural wood in the interior feels cohesive with the environment through the big windows.
Photos by Xiao Tan
By Courtney • Oct 3, 2019
On a beautiful street in Morelia, Mexico that is lined with blossoming Jacaranda trees, teams at Emilio Alvarez Abouchard Arquitectura have created the Avenida Central Building that will soon house a developing dermatological care centre. The building is named for the street it actually sits on, which many residents of Morelia claim is the most beautiful street in the whole city. Besides the gorgeous Jacaranda trees that line it on either side, adding colour and whimsy with their blossoms, the street also adds an avant-garde looking sense of urbanism to the cityscape that is very visually pleasing and unique.
Originally developed in the 1960s, the neighbourhood that Avenida Central runs through is called Chapultepec Norte. It lies only 3km east of Morelia’s downtown core, making it accessible to all the perks of downtown living but just removed enough to provide a much more relaxing atmosphere.
The aesthetic of the buildings is different from those that are built right downtown as well. There, structures have a sense of historical architecture and colonial urbanism typical of the very core of many Mexican cities. These are, after all, most often the epicentres around which the city was first built and then developed outwardly from. Out near Avenida, there is a shift towards slightly more modern looking architecture, but without disregarding local style and tradition entirely.
Part of what sets the street apart is its heavy emphasis on thickly green landscape and plant life, as well as its uniquely wide sidewalks. The presence of so many parks and so much green space and the literal physical extra space for non-vehicle travel make the area ideal for bikes, pedestrians, and pets. The over all atmosphere is safe, welcoming, and refreshing.
For the designers of the Avenida Central Building, which is mixed-use, building along this street was an opportunity to combine the atmosphere we’ve just described and local culture and style into a visual representation, like an homage paid through architecture. They wanted to ensure that the new structure be modern, efficient, and environmentally friendly as well.
The building sits on a well sized, square shaped plot that lines up flush against those wonderfully wide sidewalks we mentioned. The very linear nature of the space they had to work with leant itself well to creating a similarly linear building that is simple and clean looking with good delineation of space, without looking too harsh and starkly contemporary.
On the bottom storey, two recessed spaces on the large sides of the building make room for parking that extends around the back, where it doesn’t interrupt the flow or atmosphere of the street, as well as a beautiful outdoor terrace that can be used by clients, staff, visitors, or respectful passers by on sunny days.
The two upper levels of the building are where The Dermatology Centre will eventually live within the building. This program chose the space for its gorgeous emphasis on natural light, which flows freely through expansive windows and glass walls and illuminates the interior throughout the day in a way that’s less jarring than fluorescent lighting.
The very top level of the building is a U-shaped rooftop terrace that provides stunning views of the Morelia skyline. This view includes the pink limestone cathedral towers in the distance, which were built in the 1700s. The street on which the building sits surrounds it with greenery and the sun shines down on a lovely outdoor seating space that contributes to how the glass walls already make the whole structure feel almost boundary-less.
Perhaps the most unique part of the building was how designers strove to make it entirely universally accessible. Part of this was building an elevator tower in the centre that provides easy access to every floor, and to every room from there. Rather than installing something boring and industrial, however, they made this central column from glass blocks, which lets sunlight travel through into the centre during the day. At night, the lift tower’s lights come on and can be seen through the glass blocks from the street. This central feature has been dubbed “la tour de verre”.
Photos by Saint Gobain
Estúdio BG + LVPN Arquitetura create fluid, contemporary new office space for Silveriro Lawyers in Brazil
By Courtney • Sep 26, 2019
In the bustling urban area of Porto Alegre in Brazil, innovative public space designers at Estúdio BG + LVPN Arquitetura have recently complete an office overhaul for leading firm Silveiro Lawyers.
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From the very beginning of this office renovation’s conception, the main inspiration for its style, shape, and even its core energy was the idea of fluidity. Designers and executives alike wanted to create a space that fosters the fluid flow of energy, information, communication, and ideas, but also that has a fluid sense of style and atmosphere, making all who are present very comfortable.
More specifically, the space was built with the intention of putting fluid working practices, like collaboration and mobile workspaces that fit different scenarios, into action in a way that simultaneously reflects the fluidity of working practices and lifestyles in contemporary life.
The very basic sense of something being “fluid” is visually apparent immediately upon entering the office. Even before you’ve passed through the welcoming area with the reception desk and waiting room, you’ll already have witnessed several structures, furnishings, shapes, and details that put the word into practice. The desk, for example, curves smoothly across its front without sacrificing flat and effective working space on the top, while the walls around and behind it undulate in smooth waves behind it, leading smoothly further into the office.
As part of the goals in fluidity, executives asked designers to make a space that feels as though it’s not limited to modular places and closed off rooms. Instead, they wanted to concentrate on flowing lines and continuity that flows easily through the whole office in a way that makes sense in terms of organization, function, and interactive flow.
One of the most unique aspects of the space is the emphasis on knowledge and learning within the fluid inspiration! This is embodied in the presence of an extensive library that permeates the entire office, traveling through it on waving, softly curved shelves that follow the path through from the lobby and inward, from space to space.
The chosen theme and atmosphere is actually so prevalent throughout the office that you’d be hard pressed to find a sharp right angle just about anywhere. Even the staircase was designed in a sculpturesque fashion, adopting a rounded shape all the way up that feels balanced between the lightness of its curves and the weight of its wooden materiality.
The very wood that you see in the staircase is actually another key element of the whole wider space as well; the wood is present right from the welcome lobby and on into every other aspect of the space in the walls, bookshelves, and custom and luxury furniture pieces. The combination of fluid lines and naturally stained wood gives the place a sense of organic comfort.
In order to make the shine of the wood really stand out in all its glory, designers chose to combine it primarily with white surfaces and details to really give it sensical contrast. The wood is able to pop without enveloping the space or making it feel too dark and rustic. The sense of modernity is preserved and things remain light and fresh looking.
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In terms of the furnishings specifically, designers opted to complement the combination of wood and white materiality with a sightly mod aesthetic, choosing pieces that look specifically like what you might have seen in modern homes and leading offices. This adds a sense of style and charm to the impressive and reassuring presence of knowledge sharing.
Photos by Cristiano Brauce
By Courtney • Sep 12, 2019
In the heart of the city in Toronto, Canada, innovative designers and architectural teams at Kilogram Studio have recently completed the repurposing of a beautiful historical space as a retail spot called the Down the Rabbit Hole Store.
The first step in the project was to strip down the space that was already there. The intention of this was to reveal and showcase the beautiful 100 year old masonry walls and copper plumbing systems that were hiding behind a rather bland plaster walling. This exposed aesthetic brings the authentic history of the building much more to the forefront in the new space.
Despite the fact that this spot was already being used as a retail space before and is being renovated to serve as the same thing now, the nature of the project is still slightly unique in that the use is dual-purpose. Rather than housing a singular company, the space is actually now a co-location shared by a plant shop and a cold-pressed juice store all at once.
This means that the space had to meet some unique goals in order to satisfy the needs and requirements of both halves of the store. Within that, teams installed millwork fixtures, overhauled interior finishes, swapped out lighting, constructed a new storefront, and even did a little bit of landscaping. The overall goal, besides meeting functional requirements, was to create a space that fits the brand and identity of both clients, each of which melds and meshes well with the other.
The typical layout for retail spaces in the small downtown store spots of Toronto is often narrow, long, and a little bit dark. designers for this project, however, wanted to flip that around, brighten things up, and re-imagine it. To do so, they used Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole, from the classic Lewis Carroll story Alice in Wonderland, as their inspiration.
The store and the layout of the building is actually more of an experience than the average retail space already just thanks to the building and how it sits. Rather than having the classic street level storefront and immediate entrance combination that’s typical in most areas, this space features a small frontage leading to a laneway that leads to a rear garden that’s removed from the sidewalk level.
In this way, the choices and designers of store owners subverted the regular customer experience. This is actually indicative of a small and slow but very presence shift by small local businesses to actually get away from the classic storefront all together, reducing competition for space and taking advantage of newer and unique spaces by paying more attention to alternative opportunities just like laneway networks.
The fact that the store lies at the end of a laneway worked perfectly with the designers’ and owners’ fantasties and their Wonderland inspiration. The idea was to create an enticing little display at the street mouth of the laneway, leaving the actual storefront to emerge along the journey away from the sidewalk like a destination at the end, drawing customers into the space out of sheer curiosity if not actual desire for the quality product.
The Victorian-era brick building in which the store sits contributes to the old fashioned but intriguing Wonderland fantasy as well. The old brick facade along Queen West is patterned with natural visual texture and repetition but with the occasional contrastingly coloured brick or inconsistency that looks natural, interesting, and authentic to the building’s history.
The entrance to the retail space is a little bit tucked away, but not in a way that hides the store from customers and makes it hard to find. Instead, taking the path up is part of the experience. The garden outside, which meshes well with the plant store at the end of the lane, lets people pause for a moment in appreciation even as it draws people inside. There is even a lovely shaded bench here where people and their dogs are welcome to relax before visiting the store or when they come out with a juice.
The way the new store was renovated ties once more into the green world in how sustainable it is. Large inset doors take advantage of sun, shade, and breezes and create a fantastic cross-ventilation that reduces the need for powered heating and cooling systems for at least parts of the year (besides during Canada’s harsh winters).
Inside the space itself, the design was specifically conceptualized to address the needs of a food-based and a plant-based business. In fact, attention was paid to these requirements all throughout, with designers fully integrating those needs into the space overall. The teams opted to do what they could to deconstruct the spatial division between customers and staff, weaving the shop and the community that is fosters together so it’s more like a space to be enjoyed and less like a service place.
In every element possible, locally reclaimed, natural, and sustainable materials were chosen. This is true for the structures that actually makeup up the store’s layout, the furnishings, and just about every detail incorporated. This is part of what reflects and ingrains both clients’ ethos and values throughout the customer space and experience.
The space inside is fluid and accessible. The plants and drinks available for purchase are simply to reach and peruse but are also displayed in a way that makes them look like part of the decor scheme. The space feels fresh and new but at once somehow homey and old fashioned, perfectly paying tribute to the fact that the building itself has been standing in that spot for literally 100 years.
Photos by Scott Norsworthy
By Courtney • Sep 6, 2019
In the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, creative design teams at Hufft have recently completed an overhaul and redesign of the full office space occupied by neighbourhood leasing company Mac Properties.
Part of the goal with this office redesign was to set the company apart from others in its field. What marks the real difference in terms of their actual work is that they are much more dedicated than many other multi-family property development agencies to preserving what’s already there and working.
Where other companies might start from scratch and implement what they think is best in place of what exists, Mac Properties would rather improve existing infrastructure and enhance the potential of neighbourhoods they already think are beautiful. In their office redesign, executives opted to apply the same values and principles; rather than moving entirely or totalling and restarting with the entire space, they opted to work with what was already good about the spot they had.
This decision to honour the old space and simply reinvigorate it was partially due to the spot’s history and a desire to preserve some elements of that. Before it was inhabited by Mac Properties, those same office spaces were used by IBM. There were, therefore, all kinds of great things about the rooms and what they offered that designers wanted to work with rather than abandon.
From the outset, the whole concept the new office’s design was based on was centred around and focused upon the idea of fostering community. The building’s residents are top priority in all the plans for the office, which revolves around connectivity and fostering a welcoming and interesting but homey atmosphere that makes them comfortable.
The office sits on the first floor where it is easily accessible to everyone who might need to visit. It is wrapped on nearly all sides in glass in order to create a sense of seamlessness between the exterior street level where the neighbourhood the building is in lies and the interior lobby space is. This is just one element of the office that puts the whole central idea of connectivity into actual action.
Although executives wanted to build a space that looks impressive and upscale, reflecting the quality of product and service provided by the company, they also wanted to make sure the space is an inviting one. That’s where the playful use of colour came from! The waiting space by the front desk features comfortable lounge seats and boasts a sense of warm hospitality designed to give potential new residents having their first meetings get a taste of the comfort and friendliness that might become used to living in the building.
Having been in the business for so long, Mac fully understands that some conversations surrounding new home leasing can be sensitive, so certain spaces were built with this in mind. Now, the usual process for potential residents is to visit the “property bar”, a casual and friendly public space where photos and information outlining different rental options can be laid out and perused in a way that is fun and feels low pressure.
After the options have been laid out, when it’s time to have more serious conversations about finances and contractual elements, designers built a separate space that gives small parties a little more privacy and a sense of quiet formal intimacy. Past the property bar lies a series of booths with break room amenities, specifically catered to discussing personal details and expectations.
After the options have been laid out, when it’s time to have more serious conversations about finances and contractual elements, designers built a separate space that gives small parties a little more privacy and a sense of quiet formal intimacy. Past the property bar lies a series of booths with break room amenities, specifically catered to discussing personal details and expectations.
These two spaces are actually beneficial for and available for use by current residents already living in the building as well. The break services and lounge area, in particular, are advertised throughout the building’s inner community as an after-hours social space where people can come to meet their neighbours and get to know other residents.
Perhaps our favourite visual element of this dynamic office’s space is the artistic ceiling feature in the lobby space and welcome area. This custom feature is build from pieces of wood trim that are anchored individually above the property bar and painted different bright, beautifully contrasting colours on their cut end. This piece helps define the space and contributes to a cohesive colour scheme that flows nicely throughout the entire space.
Photos by Michael Robinson
By Courtney • Sep 5, 2019
In the bustling heart of the city of Tehran in Iran, architectural and design teams at Next Office–Alireza Taghaboni have recently completed a unique and innovative housing project called the Cedrus Residential with the goal of creatively working with the spatial limitations of trying to build new homes in a very crowded city.
In cities like Tehran, architects face many challenges when it comes to infrastructure and urban design. The idea of making new buildings in a space that is already so over-crowded is one that, in many places, has started to require building and design teams to think outside the box and fit more homes and apartments into smaller spaces without getting unrealistic when it comes to actual living spaces sizes for individuals and families.
That’s why the teams on this building decided to build up instead of out. Instead of just creating a flat, unappealing looking facade on their tall building, however, they also opted to use the outside of their building as another spatial opportunity, giving each apartment a little more living space by creating a series of unique balconies all the way the facade, giving the building some decor value and providing residents with a bit of additional space and fresh air.
In Tehran’s specific social and political climate, designers were also faced with the challenge of accounting for the common fact that people’s public and private lives are markedly different and kept purposely distinct from one another. It was therefore paramount that privacy be well prioritized. This accounts for the fact that the buildings ensure a view from other places outside the individual apartments is nearly impossible to get thanks to strategically placed windows and the partial barriers the unique balconies we mentioned earlier actually form around each unit that has one, and therefore needs bigger windows.
Inside the building, the social and welcoming spaces like the lobby are very modern looking indeed, but in a way that is formal rather than intimidating or unfriendly. Surfaces are clean and neat, edges and lines are very streamlined, and materials and shapes are contemporary. This theme in materiality and atmosphere follows one into the individual apartments as well, but in a way that is slightly more cozy and homey than on the ground floor where one might encounter the public.
Perhaps the most endearing element of the balconies for both the residents in their private lives and for the decorative sake of those viewing the buildings from the street is the way greenery has been included on each one! Designers Kept the spaces looking welcoming and made them contrast beautifully with the otherwise quite urban scenery surrounding the building by including a small garden with a small, beautiful tree to shade the space at least a little.
Photos by Majid Jahangiri
Innovative Aercoustics Offices created by iN Studio to inspired collaboration and productivity in employees
By Courtney • Sep 3, 2019
In bustling city streets of Toronto in Canada, creative designers and interior decor specialists at iN Studio have recently completed an office overhaul project on the Aercoustics Offices, a working space for a leading sound engineering firm. The company itself is Toronto-based, so it only makes sense that they’d want their physical representation in their home city to be top notch and of the highest quality! They aimed to create a new space that might showcase their standing as the go-to option in their industry, locally and otherwise. With 10,000 square feet to work with, the goal was certainly achieved!
Aerocoustics is most prominently known for their work in workspaces, architecture, and performance halls, having established themselves as the perfected option for sound engineering throughout the past 40 years. Now, they wanted a workspace that might show off their leading place in the world of industry relevant creative thought as well. Executives hoped that these new offices might better communicate the brand’s dynamic nature and range of services.
In addition to reflecting their eclectic business in terms of its multi-faceted services, executive also wanted the new offices to represent and cater to their relatively young workforce, providing them with a daily work experience that feels progressive. In an ever-growing company culture and an industry that’s always changing and updating, it’s important for the office spaces in which that work is completed and coordinated to “keep up with the times”.
Immediately upon entering the offices, visitors are greeted by the hustle and bustle of the office. This does not, however, occur in a manner that is overwhelming or unwelcoming; instead, the office feels like an exciting and inviting hub of activity, much like the city it was built in. The atmosphere is one of constant innovation and creation happening just beyond the threshold.
For the sake of balance and atmosphere, designers ensured that cutting edge technology and an emphasis on differing workspaces were balanced out with natural elements as well. Green integration was paramount in the plans from the beginning, with lots of plants and leafy displays set prominently through the entrance, collaborative spaces, and private offices.
The materiality of the office might look quite modern upon first sight, but it actually contributes to the natural elements of the aesthetic and energy flow as well! Much of the walls and surfaces within the office’s interior are transparent, giving the office a feeling of openness and connectivity, but also letting views of greenery and natural sunlight from the large windows pass through from office to office and space to space. The light flow from the windows feels bright and cheerful!
In order to let the greenery and sunshine really take centre stage, a rather minimalist colour scheme has been maintained throughout the office at a base level, like a sort of blank canvas. Complementing the plants, inspirational art and graphics have been hung throughout the space to foster creativity and stimulate productivity on a daily basis. These also create a sense of colour popping, which keeps things visually interesting without being distracting.
Of course, given that the company operates in the acoustics industry, sound was a priority in the office’s conception as well. This inherently influenced the appearance of the office as well; executives and designers alike decided that having an office with great sound quality for auditory work was more important than looks or adhering to the industry-wide idea that that good acoustic design is often invisible.
Instead, Aercoustics opted to let all the inner workings of good acoustics show! This gives the office an aesthetic that is at once casual and fresh but also quite industrial influenced. The double height ceilings, for example, have exposed piping and systems running across the tops that are visible in each room. An acoustical sprat was also applied to the ceiling all throughout the office in order to create ideal acoustic environments.
In terms of its spatial organization, the main floor serves primarily as a workspace. This floor features active meeting rooms, which are sizeable enough for large groups and boast state of the art industrial technology. Given that the company’s work involves sound, each meeting room is built to the company’s top specifications for optimal conditions, rendering the board rooms on the first floor almost like a testing lab for different services and products provided to Aercoustic clients.
On the upper floor lies perhaps the most unique element of the office. Called “The Bridge”, this piece is a cutting edge piece of technology that is a sound simulation studio and total industry game changer. It combines ambisonics audio with virtual reality video, allowing Aercoustics to create three-dimensional experiences from static data in new, unprecedented ways.
In work-specific practice, The Bridge allows the company to accurately reproduce all kinds of different acoustic scenarios. This, in turn, allows clients to hear and understand precisely how their prospective space would sound in terms of acoustics and sound quality upon completion. This is ability is something that sets the new offices apart and establishes them an industry leader.
Photos courtesy of the designers.
By Courtney • Aug 6, 2019
On a bustling central street in Amsterdam, in the The Netherlands, design teams at Standard Studio have recently completed a new franchise of the well known restaurant SLA Salad Bar in order to account for how successfully the company has grown in recent years.
The original salad bar was launched in 2012 and has seen nothing but positive growth since. The latest evolution is the opening of this new location, which is the eleventh of those built all across The Netherlands since the first. With this new bar, designers were specifically tasked with not only making the new restaurant itself, but also creating an entirely new design for the store’s interior.
This goal goes above and beyond just giving the building a new look. Instead, the priority was to established a recognizable atmosphere and look that customers might consider typical of the brand, associating it with the products and services it provides and the values its staff put forward with the company name. This aesthetic will continue onward as even more new locations arise.
Of course, even within the process of building a brand and typical, consistent look, it is essential to do so from elements that might be catered to specific spaces and applied flexibly to ensure that each new location functions and looks its best. After all, having each space be an organized, positive experience is still the most important thing beyond sticking to a particular look, even when the store is trying to convey a comfortingly well known identity.
As you can probably imagine, the process of putting together and making individualized salads is, in fact, the central function of the space. This is why the salad counter, which features spacious prep surfaces and storage spots for many different fresh ingredients, sits at the heart of the space like a hub.
Once they’ve moved the length of the salad counter and have their meal in hand, the space is set up intuitively in terms of space, so customers easily understand to move onward to choose where they’d like to sit and eat in several different seating arrangements laid out around the shop.
The seating spaces are flexible and have been designed to accommodate all kinds of different customers and their needs, depending on who their party consists of and what kind of day they might be having or what kind of dining experience they might be looking for. These range from individual stools at a bar for singular people grabbing a quick bite to comfortable, more intimately placed corners suitable for couples who want to take their time together.
Since the central point of the stores themselves, no matter location or style, is the food, the SLA salad bars are always built at central spots in the urban places the company choses to put them in. This makes the tendency of the space to feel diverse, accommodating, and flexible even more important, since people from all different backgrounds and experiences are more likely to be customers in busy urban centres.
Precisely because of those city locations we’ve talked so much about, however, designers made it a point to establish an aesthetic that is also sort of calming. In short, designers wanted this particular Amsterdam location to feel like a momentary escape from the hectic contexts right outside the doors, like a slower paced place where people can come together.
Overall, the space is quite open concept, making it feel contemporary in its calming, peaceful style and sensical layout. Wooden walls inspired by fins delineate space according to function, outlining where staff work versus where customers are free to spend their time. Large windows provide both natural daylight and a view of the bicycle heavy streets outside.
One of the most interesting aspects of the space that is intentionally consistent from location to location is the inclusion of greenery right inside the restaurant (beyond the presence of salad leaf options, of course). Plants play a huge role in the decor scheme; some are live and potted while others, like moss and fern leaves, are dried and framed. Green tiles and other details included around the space tie the plants in well and make the space feel and look cohesive.
One element that’s unique specifically to the new Amsterdam location of the SLA salad bar is the “show kitchen”. This refers to the way the functional kitchen and all food prep stations are built with glass walls so that there is still a delineation of space, but one that lets customers in on all of the work that goes into their meal, providing what becomes an almost entertainment moment. This space is also used for cooking workshops that customers can sign up for in the store’s off hours!
Photos by Wouter Van Der Sar
UK office of parenting company Mayborn Group Offices created by Ben Johnson Ltd to reflect their playful values
By Courtney • Aug 1, 2019
Amidst the calm but steady bustle of a town called Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, a design company by the name of Ben Johnson Ltd has gone out of their way to create a friendly, playful, and accessibly motivating space for parenting products company Mayborn Group. Believe it or not, Mayborn Group is actually the head company behind the brand responsible for some of the best and most fun parenting products on the market, put out more directly by their secondary brand Tommee Tippee. They recently acquired a brand new large office space in North Tyneside, in a prime space called the Balliol Business Park.
This new office is all part of their global growth plans and is simply the latest in a series of planned updates. Just because it’s not the last, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t their most impressive space yet! The goal of designers was to mirror the fun, playful, and colourful image associated with their brand in the decor, aesthetic, and atmosphere of their work and break spaces.
At the forefront of the plans when this office was first conceptualized was the idea to make a global headquarters that might regularly enhance the experience of the company’s employees in simple, daily ways. It was also important to company executives that the space “bring parenting to life”.
In short, teams wanted to create a fun, collaborative workplace of the kind that employees can take pride in working at. They wanted their atmosphere to attract talent at the same time as it reflects the image and strength of the brand on a scale that makes it truly recognizable internationally.
Compared to its original office, the company’s new space encompasses a working area that is nearly double in size, spanning 33,000 square feet. This works very well in line with the company’s goals of expansion, giving them space to accommodate the new employees and spacial needs that will inevitably come along with a growing working infrastructure and a need for even more diverse kinds of talent as that takes place.
The atmospheric building begins immediately when guests enter through the front doors. Designers went out of their way to establish a reception space that is extremely welcoming, highly engaging, and interesting in the way it appeals to newcomers. The style of furnishing and decor relies heavily on the kinds of curved lines that mirror those seen in the company’s logo.
The brand is well known for and bears a strongly established colour scheme. This is heavy in cyan, gold, and pink, which contrast well against the clean white background provided by the walls of the area, which have been kept intentionally clean and minimal looking in order to allow the shapes and colours elsewhere to take centre stage.
Colour and shape aren’t the only details that add some personality to the space. Designers actually chose to get extra creative in a way that makes use of novelty and gets crafty with unconventional supplies. Possibly our favourite example of this is the reflective, clear glass chandelier that also features several dangling baby’s bottles, hanging about the stairwell.
Of course, it would be remiss to design an entire office around the values of parenting and all it encompasses without providing a space that is catered to actual working parents. This is why the office’s large ground floor features a meeting area that, right outside its doors, features several spaces specifically designed for kids to play in while their parents conduct business.
The first of these kids’ spaces is a play park and the second is a faux beach area complete with its own trees, colourful and rainbow inspired picnic tables, and swinging chairs suspended from the ceiling. This space might be geared towards kids, but its sized for humans of any age and adults who are waiting for meetings are encouraged it to use it just as much!
In keeping with the kitschy upcycled baby bottle theme, designers custom made the office a truly giant and wonderfully illuminated Tommee Tippee logo from 800 colourful and very real baby bottles. This glows above several private small meeting rooms, each one themed around different toddler activities concentrated on by Mayborn’s various global locations.
Each of the individually themed meeting rooms is highly decorated to the utmost creative degree, making conducting work there more of an experience than a regular workday chose. Additionally, each one is fully equipped with a mother and baby feeding room. The themes of the meeting spaces include a garden, an American diner, a surf club, a tea room, and a library.
Of course, any workplace that truly wants to make their office the best experience for their employees needs a break space that will match how great their workspaces are! That’s why these designers chose to create an entire break wing that features a large variety of spaces centred around comfort. These include colourful seating zones, a cafe, and a lounge with tiered seating.
Entertainment during break times is important to the company for their employees as well. For those who don’t feel the need to rest on their breaks, there are televisions, pool tables, and differently arranged seating spaces designed for informal group seating. Sometimes these spaces are even used for large group presentations so that people can relax during those that are informal.
This all takes place on the ground floor! Above that, on the first and second floors, are more formal workspaces that are a little bit less novelty and a little more business oriented. They are still aesthetically aligned with the quirky style presented in reception and they still follow the colour scheme; they are simply the necessary designated “business wing” that every head office needs.
The business wing is fully equipped with the latest office technology and is laid out in a way that makes everything feel like it has good flow. These floors feature more conventional working areas for those who need more structure for concentration, as well as a plethora of comfortable meeting areas, some fun and colourful multi-purpose booths, and even some sound proof booths for those who need a little extra privacy and concentration on special projects. Each business floor also features a cheerful kitchen area!
Besides the colours, themes, and branding, some things were intentionally prioritized to really make sure the space is as welcoming and conducive to productivity as possible. Large windows ensure that each room on each floor is filled with an abundance of natural sunlight while birchwood details and a large element of greenery (including whole indoor trees) ground the space, provide natural contrast, and create a sense of contentedness and calm.
Photos by Jill Tate
Innovative AstraZeneca Offices created by SpaceInvaders to provide a unique and engaging space for employees
By Courtney • Jul 30, 2019
In a little British town called Macclesfield, creative design teams from the uniquely named architectural firm SpaceInvaders have recently finished a complete overhaul of a new office space designer to work as a head quarters for a company called AstraZeneca.
From the outset, the design teams and the company alike wanted to make sure the whole space was approached from a progressive perspective. They wanted to make sure that the place caters to productivity and workplace respect and needs, but also that it feels fun, welcoming, and comfortable enough that employees actually enjoy the time they spend there, letting them create better work in the end.
By the time they reached the end of the project, designers had actually achieved exactly that! In fact, they found it so successful that the office now serves as a guideline for all of their other locations when it comes to layout, aesthetic, and functionality. This is often the case with head offices, of course, but this biopharmaceutical company found their own brand new design particularly well suited to their needs and efficient to recreate elsewhere too.
Once conservative and stereotypically “stuffy” in its style and function, this workplace has undergone a complete transformation in both its style and its mentality, culture, and way of working. The space is now much more free flowing, both in physical movement and communication. It is also much more technologically equipped and filled with more colour and personality.
Perhaps the biggest changes in space and aesthetic took place in the meeting rooms, which are now much more open, diverse, and geared towards collaboration. The break rooms, on the other hand, have been enhanced and geared towards actually giving employees a solid physical and mental break so they can go back to work feeling more genuinely refreshed and prepared. One spot even features a foosball table!
Elsewhere in the office, more classic workspaces do exist for those who thrive better in more disciplined setups and need a little more quiet or privacy. Besides the group work driven meeting areas in the centre, there are also tables, as well as comfortable booths where clients might be met, meetings might be held, or breaks might even be taken.
All throughout the space, colour popping plays a roll in livening up the space no matter which part you’re sitting in or how you’re using it. The dominant colour scheme is quite neutral and balanced with white, right onto the ceiling thanks to interestingly shaped pendant lights. Contemporarily shaped furniture pieces bring the colour pops in, adding red, green, and blue to the mix to add a bit of dimension and interest.
Photos by Gareth Gardner
By Courtney • Jul 29, 2019
In Turkey’s capital city of Istanbul, creative teams at Emre Arolat Architecture have recently completed a redesign and rebuilding of a stunning art spot to establish the Pilevneli Gallery; a place that blends new art with adapted old urban spaces.
The Pilevneli Gallery is one small part of a larger, country-wide effort to repurpose and revitalize old, often run down city buildings and spaces in order to give them a new lease on life in ways that enrich and invigorate the social fabric and highlight pieces of local art and culture for admiration and appreciation.
For this gallery, designers transformed an empty building in the Dolapdere neighbourhood in the Turkish district of Taksim. This spot actually sits right in the heart of the area we mentioned that is currently undergoing larger updating efforts that are focused on the reuse of space for arts and culture. Sitting on a main street, the new structure commands attention from the street.
The gallery grabs one’s eye at first thanks to its shape. Compared to the older, more historical buildings typical of the area, this structure is minimalist, linear looking, and extremely neat. Besides being quite cubic in its shape, the building makes unique use of space in the form of several void spaces amidst its volumes.
As Recently as five years ago, this area of the city of Istanbul was quite run down and considered underprivileged. Its central location and proximity to commercial districts, however, makes it such a perfectly located neighbourhood that letting it become dilapidated was deemed not an option by the city and local designers.
Now, it has become a slightly unplanned but overall colourful, eclectic, and unique area of town chalk full of small businesses and local firms running out of small, old buildings that have been refurbished to counteract weathering and age. The street on which the gallery sits is also home to boutique hotels, several other galleries, and even more than one museum.
Above all other priorities, this particular design team wanted to make sure they avoided what often happens in neighbourhood overhauls, which is the eradication of original buildings and therefore part of the city’s history. Instead, they wanted to preserve as much of the building and street context as they could while still improving on the structure and making the interior far more contemporary.
The rough fire brickwork found on both the exterior and in several indoor spots, like the stairwells, is a great example of how designers took a blended approach, hitting the mark somewhere between redoing and revamping. These walls received a few new spots in the brickwork to repair damage and then certain spots were painted, resulting in a minimally repaired look that matches the original and pays it tribute but still looks new and stands stronger.
The situation for support and core strength of the building was similar. Existing columns and beams that still stood tall and undamaged were cleaned up and preserved to the best possible degree, while a few additional supports were built in spots where damage, advanced wear and tear, or weak spots were present, thus giving the building a stronger frame.
Once the original aspects of the building had been restored, designers took a turn with their approach and built the primary art display space of the gallery like a contrastingly modern and contemporary looking inset in the north-east end. Laid out like an actual experience, rather than just a few paintings hanging on the walls, the space is built like a clean, sharp looking white cube.
This spot creates a stunning and rather stark contrast with the naked brick of the old structure. The white exhibition walls help the art pieces pop and stand out, while the presence of brick and beams nearby add local and contextual context without distracting from the artistic experience itself.
Everything in this space was quite strategic in its colour, materiality, placement, and so on, right down to the windows. In fact, the placement of the windows actually plays a huge role in the experience! Designers chose to seclude certain parts of the gallery behind solid walls that can’t be seen from outside the building at all, but other spots have carefully placed windows that intentionally show certain parts of the neighbourhood where the sights laying outside in the neighbourhood show off a bit of the local culture and incorporate the scene into the gallery itself like a sort of live art.
Photos by Thomas Mayer
By Courtney • Jul 26, 2019
In the bustling urban area of Stavanger in Norway, creative design teams at the firm Magu Design have recently completed a brand new “work from wherever” style office for European oil company Aker BP.
In terms of its function and layout, the office is entirely activity based. This was intentional to provide employees that choose to come and share the office space on any given day rather than working from home. Designers and executives also wanted to make a space that is diverse, flexible, and open to movement throughout the day, letting people change where and how they’re sitting throughout the day according to whatever they find comfortable.
The office might look fun, informal, and quite casual, but it’s actually an extremely efficient, well equipped, and very productive indeed. Underneath its unique decor, shapes, and interesting details, the office actually has a distinct sense of subtle luxury, offering just about anything and everything an employee or client could possibly need throughout the day.
Since aspects of the company are digitized in a cutting edge way, designers opted to incorporate that emphasis on technology right into the office itself. In particular, they wanted to fully enable the running of a specific department within the company called Eureka.
The Eureka department is diverse and ever-changing, meaning they require a space that can match those same characteristics. The structure of the teams varies depending on the project they’re working on. Some days, the department splits up into very small crews and works quite independently, but at other times everyone will work together in a much larger team, occupying a whole floor in the office’s building for a number of weeks or even a few months at a time.
Because of the team’s constantly changing needs, the space really was catered towards active work and activity. Because all space is shared, there is an office-wide policy that ongoing work will be cleared and stored elsewhere by the end of the night rather than left where it is, since there are no fixed desks across the space and everyone moves around quite fluidly from day to day.
Of course, some employees and projects will naturally require a slightly more concrete, isolated, and focused space in which to produce their work. This is why designers built and established a quiet zone on each floor; an area that, while not cut off or too isolated, is specifically intended and built for more concentrated or possibly individualized work.
There are also several more traditionally laid out quiet rooms that are slightly more set aside from the main diverse spaces, just in case that’s what employees need during any give project instead. These are actual rooms with desks and chairs. These are in the minority, however, because most of the work required by the company is inherently collaborative.
Another rather unique aspect of the office is the nature of the meeting spaces. Rather than outlining a few isolated rooms that book up quickly and result in a waiting list for things that should be dealt with sooner, the office shifted to the idea of more diversely located and laid out meeting booths and spaces. These make each meeting feel like a focused experience but also a break from routine, making them feel more interactive than intimidating. This layout also means that there is always some kind of meeting space available.
Besides being diverse within themselves, the different zones and meeting areas built into the space are also nearly free of delineation, making them feel quite seamless and fluid. The presence of cutting edge technology is also limitless, as it is present all over to account for the fact that meetings are intended to be had anywhere that feels right to the people involved.
Besides its layout and interesting use of shape, designers actually also incorporated an inspiration theme in terms of art inclusion and decor. If you look at the details and some of the decor pieces, you might see the way they informed their space after themes present in the classic tale Alice in Wonderland and the process of her falling down the rabbit hole to experience another world. Executives and designers wanted employees and clients to feel like they are seeing the world through new eyes, complete with a new way of doing things.
Photos by Arne Bru Haug
Flexible and brand new Intarcia Offices created by ACTWO to take advantage of light and highlight art in the workplace
By Courtney • Jul 26, 2019
In the busy city centre of Boston, Massachusetts, conceptualization teams from architectural firm ACTWO have created a brand new head office space for biopharmaceutical firm Intarcia Therapeutics.
Among their main goals, designers and the firm alike aimed to make a space that is both pleasant to use and efficiently, fully functional all at once. They wanted to build a space that is welcoming and enjoyable to work in but that is also equipped for maximum productivity and easy working, individually or together.
Besides the spaces and resources that are geared specifically towards work and production, designers also made it a high priority to include original works of art from local artists and creators all over the office. These not only inject some immediate culture and personality into the space but they also set a stunning atmosphere and serve to motivate those thinking and working within the space.
One of the most subtle and unique aspects of the working space is the way it plays with light. That might not sound like something that would really influence an individual’s average work day, but it’s actually scientifically proven that light plays a large role in people’s ability to concentrate and work productively. That’s why designers made light such an integral part of this office.
Flexibility was a key factor in how they did this. Using unique, clean white LED lighting sources and natural sunlight from large glazed windows, designers created a beautiful balance within the space according to function. The best part is that all lighting is adjustable thanks to dials and curtains, making the meeting and work spaces easy to cater to depending on the needs of who is using the space at that time.
The windows do more than just provide a wondrous level of sunlight to each of the office corners. They also give employees and visitors a stunning view that makes one feel refreshed and motivated. Because it sits high on the 13th floor of a large corporate building, every room in the office is afforded a breathtaking view of the seaport below.
Following that same theme of beautifully motivating visuals, designers opted to use art right there in the space to give it character and personality, but also to create an atmosphere of creativity and inspiration. The pieces included in the office are original works of art created primarily by local artisans from the area.
The combination of the carefully balanced light that flows throughout the office and the way it plays off of and changes the experiences of the art creates not just an interesting aesthetic but also a welcoming and very restful atmosphere. This is particularly true in the spaces that designers specifically laid out for working breaks, which are essential to a productive work day.
Believe it or not, the larger main office space that you see in most of the photos isn’t actually the only part of the space. The second floor of the same building is actually an expansion of Intarcia, acting as a separate office suite. This office has much of the same decor and atmosphere, as well as flexible partitions that let users tailor the space to their needs. This suite is often used for training purposes, conferences, and larger worth gatherings.
Photos by Greg Premru