Office interior design for NEC, Wellington replaces reception with an interactive zone

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A challenging floor plate results in an innovative interior design and an inspiring workplace.

Interior designer Jonathan Custance explains the process to Trends editorial director Paul Taylor.

Innovative thinking has transformed the offices of a leading software developer, and unified a previously disconnected workplace – in more ways than one.

Many businesses plan a move when they feel their current premises no longer reflect their culture or the way they work. But sometimes, when the existing location is ideal, the best option is a total office makeover. NEC, a leading provider of communication networks and IT solutions, took this approach for its Wellington head office. NEC chief financial officer Peter Davies says the company had been at the same location in Taranaki St for 10 years and had grown significantly over this time, spreading over the top two floors. “We inherited the existing office decor, which was very generic and didn’t say anything about NEC and who we were,” he says. “Employees were quite isolated and accommodated in closed-off cubicles, which was not conducive to collaboration and idea sharing.” Jonathan Custance of Custance, the interior design consultancy commissioned to redesign the office interior, says there was a lot of wasted space over the two floors, and no view corridors, which made orientation difficult. In addition, the reception area, by the lifts, was buried in the middle of the building with no views. Davies says the decision to upgrade the NEC premises supported a renewed push back into the New Zealand market, and a desire to raise the company’s profile. “We wanted an inspiring workplace, which would be unique to NEC – an innovation centre that would reflect who we are and what we do.” Custance says the project was complicated by the fact that the 1500m2 floorplate was spread over three separate, unaligned buildings, with each structure on a different axis. “This presented multiple design challenges, including colliding grids, expansion joints and a plethora of inconvenient columns doubling up on the building perimeters,” he says.

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