Story by Charles Moxham
Photography by Shea Studio
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The interior design for two mergered insurance companies into AMGeneral features open-plan design, no managerial offices and a vibrant colour scheme
Merging two companies into one multi-floor business location provides opportunity to reinvent everything from hierarchies to design aesthetics.
AmGeneral Insurance came into being when general insurance provider AmG Insurance united with Malaysia's leading automobile insurer Kurnia Insurans (Malaysia). The new and improved combined company is Malaysia's largest motor and general insurer, providing its products and services through an extensive network of branches, agents and dealers, as well as via its online presence.
As part of the physical merger, the companies were to combine in new corporate offices in the Menara Shell building, located at the KL Sentral transportation hub.
Interiors company SL+A addressed the fit-out. Senior interior designer Stephanie Goh says their brief was to work with the firm's senior management to develop a workplace that would help build and nurture a new shared culture and way of working.
To complicate the project, the company's new 13,200m2 of floor space runs over several – in some cases non-contiguous floors – a geographical separation that actually served as a positive in the attribution of different roles to different areas.
Customer service is located on the fifth floor of the Menara Shell building, physically set apart from the back offices on floors 7 to 8 and 10 to 15, with level 9 designated as a community floor.
"Overall, we wanted to avoid the hierarchical structures seen in the two pre-merger companies," says Goh. "Enclosed management offices have been done away with completely, with these senior roles now more subtly delineated by larger desks. Also the senior management desks all have meeting areas located nearby, providing a degree of intimacy and making up for the lack of private office space."
Shared and support functions are centralised, with the few enclosed spaces such as meeting rooms and individual floor pantries pushed to the core, ensuring the perimeter workstations achieve optimum natural light.
The open-plan layout on these floors, along with low partitions between individual workstations, further the egalitarian feel and fosters effective collaboration between staff on these floors.
Demarcations have been created between office areas, collaboration zones, meeting and discussion rooms and breakout areas on these floors so that there is no interference to the different modes of communication used between groups. An under-lying theme of the fit-out is the sheer flexibility of spaces. A loss of privacy is one potential down-side of open, flowing workspaces and there are phone booths where staff can make private calls.
The community floor includes the reception, the boardroom, a cafeteria, and training areas. Here, too, formal and casual collaborative space are intermixed. The boardroom features an elaborate spiral ceiling design developed from the corporate logo. This room has padded panel walls, and both ends of the space feature writable surfaces.
Given its use, the 5th-level customer service floor is designed along more formal, dignified lines.
"The use of bold colour was an inherent part of the fit-out," says the interior designer. "While a monochromatic palette forms a backdrop for the offices, aesthetic vibrancy has been injected in several ways. For example, the colours of the two pre-merger companies – blue for the car insurer and red for the general insurer – are interwoven throughout the AmGeneral fit-out. And patterned carpeting in the meeting rooms runs from the floor up over the walls for a modern, dynamic feel.
There's also a sense of visual excitement in the colour and form of the loose seating, and the application of non-standardised colours for dividing panels at workstations. Bright green carpets on the main office floor walkways act as way finders and further add to the dynamics of the spaces.
First published date: 21 October 2016
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|Project||AmGeneral Insurance Berhad, Malaysia|
|Interior design||SL+A; senior interior designer, Stephanie Goh, design team; Liza Eusope|
|Mechanical and electrical engineer||J Roger Preston (Malaysia) Sdn BHd|
|Quantity surveyor||SL+A Sdn Bhd|
|Fire consultant||Mui Fong Architect|
|Blinds||Ferlite Sdn Bhd|
|Vinyl floor and wall treatments||Tian Cern, Be Decor, Goodrich Global|
|Stone floor and walls||Century Stone Industries|
|Carpet – floors and walls||United Carpet Sdn Bhd|
|Paints||Nippon Paint, Dulux Paint|
|Workstations||Technigroup Office Furniture|
|Additional furniture||Haworth Industries, Technigroup, Benel, Kian Contract, Kehs Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Tree, Alex's Enterprises Sdn Bhd, Moem, Sunperry|