Award: People's Choice (Shortlist)
Category: Commercial Business
Project: Unispace, Sydney
Country of Design: Australia
Global design firm Unispace faced a combination of an expiring lease on its Alfred Street studio and a rapidly growing team. As a result, Unispace decided to relocate its global headquarters to a new space that would support the company's growth and inspire its people. This also presented an opportunity was seized to create a studio environment that was highly conducive to creative working and the cross-pollination of ideas. The new Unispace Sydney office is the latest iteration of an evolving prototype that places the firm's Think Create Make methodology in motion, with agile spaces supported by integrated technology and behaviours.
Our design intent was to offer people the freedom to choose a space that best supports the task they are doing at any particular point in time. The design needed to support both focused and collaborative work, with technology enabling seamless movement between different work modes. We held a collaborative design competition, inviting our studios from around the world to create solutions for the unique shape of the building that would house the new office - the iconic Harry Seidler-designed Grosvenor Place, because the building's unusual curved floorplate was proving to be a design challenge. The workshop yielded a range of creative solutions that built on the continuous desk concept already used in other studios, a nod to the firm's seamless methodology.
Grosvenor Place's curved floorplate has now become a key design feature in the studio. We adopted a 'pavilion' concept, which evolved following the global workshop: this connects the length of the floorplate and frames views across Sydney Harbour. The Pavilion is connected entirely by timber, and it required careful consideration and meticulous attention to detail. Each ceiling frame becomes marginally wider from one end to another as it approaches the edge of the building, requiring extremely precise work during construction.
The new workplace features unallocated workstations, multiple meeting and chat rooms, sit-to-stand workstations, lounge settings and informal booths. The studio also offers a large, open-plan breakout space. Intricate detailing within every aspect of the design adds to the overall experience, from the flexible Academy space with its writable surfaces and interactive screens to the front-of-house breakout and event space. For those working in a group, the project room is the perfect setting for bringing people together, encouraging creative thinking and collaboration. Sit-to-stand workstations support wellbeing, while long benches promote collaboration and connection across teams. The breakout area is a great space in which to spend a lunch hour or catch up with a colleague about a project. At the end of each day, desks are cleared, and laptops and tool boxes are placed away for the night in lockers, ensuring they are ready for business the next day.
The design not only provides Unispace with a beautiful workplace they can be proud of, but also a place that adopts an agile approach to work, with behaviours and technology to suit. Unallocated spaces provide autonomy and flexibility, letting staff choose where and how to work each day. Different zones support varying work styles and activities; when a quiet focus space is required, you can jump into a focus pod where you won't be disturbed. This conscious commitment to agile working is embedded into the studio's culture. People work together to maintain and respect the workplace, which supports the seamless working of the Sydney studio.
Voting ends on 20th March 2018, Tuesday 2359 (GMT+8).