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Modern office fit-out for BP with central spiral staircase

Read the full article at: Energised workplace – this new BP office in New Zealand merges two teams in an open, collaborative work environment. Designer Sarah Langford of Unispace talks about key design features that have transformed the modern workplace. Keeping one step ahead of the competition is a hallmark of every successful company. But being progressive isn’t just about business acumen; it’s also about an effective, highly efficient workplace. BP has long recognised the importance of the work environment in terms of productivity and attracting and retaining talent. The company also recognises the nature of the modern-day workplace is changing – there is a much greater need for worker interaction, collaboration and the cross pollination of ideas and resources. Frank van Hattum, New Zealand general manager convenience retail and asset management for BP, says merging the company’s two offices was an ideal opportunity to explore such a workplace design. BP commissioned Unispace to come up with an appropriate interior for a new head office in the Watercare building in Remuera, Auckland. Design director Sarah Langford says BP’s former offices were traditional and compartmentalised, with high partitions between work spaces. “Even so-called open-plan offices designed just 10-12 years ago don’t suit modern work practices,” she says. “This new office was a chance to further break down barriers. But the design also needed to fit with BP’s corporate workplace and global standards, so we had many strategy meetings to discuss the overall vision with company representatives.” Langford says linking the two separate floors of the new office was the first priority. “We opened up a 6m-diameter circular hole in the upper floor to create a void, and designed a wide spiral staircase. This forms the central node of the office, around which everything revolves. It also provides opportunities for staff interaction as they move through the office.” The staircase features sustainably sourced black beech timber treads, and forms a sculptural centrepiece in the reception area. Bands of black beech timber also curve around the spiralling glass balustrading. “We deliberately chose B-grade timber for its textural look,” says Langford. “The holes and knots in the wood add visual appeal. The same timber clads the curved wall accommodating the reception desk. For added interest we created arrow-shaped joins where the planks butt up against each other. “On an abstract level, the raw, organic materials reference BP’s involvement in the harnessing of natural energy. Similarly, the round motif recalls the sun, which BP incorporates into its branding, as the ultimate source of all energy.” The motif is repeated in an extra-large timber-lined circular light fitting above the stairwell. Green, a BP corporate colour, is also referenced, in a band around the balustrading. Green appears in the reception area furniture as well, where it is teamed with white for a fresh, crisp look. Langford says workers have swipe cards to pass through Gunnebo Speedstiles beside the stairs. The rest of the lower level is designed to provide clear access for visitors to meeting rooms, a client lounge and a Wildbean Café test kitchen. “Coffee is a big part of the BP culture,” says the designer. “Every employee is trained to make a perfect barista coffee when they start with the company. So the coffee machine is a vital part of the service provided at reception.” Changes to the workstation environment can be seen readily on the upper level. Opting for a true open-plan environment, BP has placed all workers on the same footing. The executive team sits on the main floor alongside other staff. “There is a concession, in that each manager is seated close to one of the non-bookable, non-allocated quiet rooms,” says Langford. “These can be used by all staff at any time, for private calls and concentrated work.” The designer says surveys have shown that while collaborative work is on the increase, approximately 70% of the work that most people do in an office is some form of focus work. So there is a need to minimise visual and noise disturbance. “We have provided for activity-based working, but recognise that collaborative areas will involve more noise. So we created concentric zones where the noise levels diminish the further away one gets from the central stairwell. Collaborative meeting tables are positioned closest to the central stair, while the quiet rooms are right out on the perimeter of the space. “The meeting tables at the front of the office are splayed to echo the curve of the balustrade. Desks behind this follow the same layout, which also avoids any suggestion of a row upon row of chicken-coop workstations.” Video:

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New Tyree Energy Technologies building at UNSW Australia showcases sustainable design and research

Read the full article at: Tyree Energy Technologies Building University of New South Wales with student commons, central atrium University Energy Technologies Building walks the sustainability talk with its 6 star energy rating Trends editorial director Paul Taylor looks at FJMT’s design for a gateway campus building When you’re involved in the field of Energy Technology research … and need a new building … it’s only natural to see this as an ideal opportunity to walk the talk of sustainable design. That was the proposition for the new Tyree Energy Technologies Building at the University of New South Wales. The building not only needed to accommodate new teaching and learning spaces for up to 1240 students … it also had to reflect the university’s focus on sustainable energy technology. On top of that, it had to make a strong design statement. The site is at the junction of three urban zones … and so had the potential to become a significant gateway to the university … and a hub of activity. Architects FJMT’s response was a building with different facades depending on the context. On the north side, a series of wide steps creates a communal area for students. The façade here is extensively glazed … with louvres installed to screen the academic offices behind. The western side has a very different look … to address the street with its retail strip on one side and leafy trees on the other. The design broke this façade is into three distinct modules … clad in terracotta coloured ceramic panels … which incorporate vertical sunscreens to allow light to flood the interior. Automated glazed areas on the saw tooth roof, also allow plenty of natural light into the large central atrium inside the building … and enable it to be naturally ventilated as well. The building is the first at the university to have a rooftop generation system – a 150kW photovoltaic array and an 800kW tri-generation system. Together these produce enough energy to supply the equivalent of 400 houses. Add to that the highly efficient façade … and the underground system that allows the building to be cooled at no cost … and the Tyree Energy Technologies building stands as a demonstration of how to achieve a 6 star energy rating. Video:

Contemporary damage-resistant office buildings in Christchurch

Shaken, not stirred - Contemporary, seismic resistant mixed-use precinct by Jasmax Architect Richard Hayman discusses the project In the three short years following New Zealand's most significant natural disaster, Christchurch architects have had to bring fresh focus to their designs. Expansive, versatile floorplates and energy efficiency are ever key drivers, but now resilience, social-mindedness and a quest to reanimate the city streetscape are also part of the new agenda. Three35, by Jasmax with architect Richard Hayman at the helm, comprises two, three-storey mixed-use office-and-retail blocks and a discreet highly automated carparking garage at the rear. "The vision for this job was to create a desirable office-and-mixed use precinct that responds well to, and enhances, its local context," says Hayman. "Lincoln Road is a main arterial route in and out of Addington, an area of flux both pre and post quake. "The precinct has a central, 100m-long street presence and a commanding corner position in this now emerging inner-city suburb. In response to the prime setting, the decision was made to challenge set back rules to create a higher quality street environment. This move would also free up a quarter of the site area for usable outdoor space."With this approved, we designed the precinct as two similar rectilinear office blocks, and pushed these to the front of the site. This arrangement allows the life of the building occupants -- whether offices or retail -- to engage with the street. The simple forms also result in large, flexible floorplates. Read the full article at Video: