Award: People's Choice (Shortlist)
Category: Collaborative Space
Project: Woods Bagot Perth Studio
Country of Design: Australia
We inherited the old Palace Hotel, a site that the local community had historically held dear. So, while this was a great opportunity to demonstrate what we believe in in our own space, we had a significant amount of anxiety around getting it right and keeping the local community happy. The Perth studio was also the first to consider adopting agile working methodologies - a significant cultural challenge. In addition, there was the challenge of creating a 21st century workplace within the fabric of an 1890s building. This relied on us being overt in our use of contemporary installations that complement rather than compete, providing a balanced juxtaposition between old and new. At the same time, we were excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate the harmonious relationship between physical (space), behaviour (culture) and virtual (technology).
Being our own client, we had a deep understanding of the aspirational and functional brief requirements. The opportunity lay in exploring new ideas, demonstrating our thought leadership, the blurring of lifestyle sector and using the workplace as a tool for cultural change. The project became a catalyst for us to challenge the status quo of what working, focus, meeting, collaboration and workshop spaces can be, using a mix of low fi, sophisticated and analogue technologies for a diverse experience in every space. We were relocating into a space of a similar size to our previous one, and yet the new workspace has a 60% growth strategy inherently built into it.
In a first for the practice, the move to a fully-agile studio model demonstrates Woods Bagot's commitment to and deep understanding of the workplace of the future. A combination of free-seating desks, stand-up work settings, lounge areas and semi-enclosed meeting spaces introduce a sense of dynamism and autonomy to the workspace.
The studio is split over two floors, with the central and separate indoor mezzanine providing a place of convergence in which we can socialise, meet, eat and come together - activities that are key to a team culture and engagement with the broader community. By embracing agility, the studio can accommodate 20% growth through compression, without change to the physical environment. Applying share ratios achieves another 20%. Beyond share ratios, applying a rigorous growth strategy to the space planning enables manipulation of the existing environment for a further 20% growth - a total of 60% growth inherently built it.
Featuring 100% specialist lighting throughout, this is a space that responds to the visual elements a human needs, with zero uniformity. Purposeful application of ambient, accent and task lighting creates the right conditions for focus and teamwork, transition spaces and for highlighting architectural features. Workstations have shared dimmable integrated up/down task lighting and individual task lamps. The user has complete control: they have the ability to adjust lighting conditions to suit their mode of work. We promoted people movement as a part of our wellbeing strategy, by providing them with standing work bars, centralised waste and recycling bins and encouragement to choose the heritage staircase over the lift.
The iconic Palace Hotel has been transformed into a flexible and agile work environment that supports new modes of work. Wireless mobile technology and no allocated seating offer freedom of movement and choice. Woods Bagot realised its new studio was an opportunity to demonstrate the practice's ability to design, deliver and occupy a workplace that led by example. By creating diverse spaces and experiences, we developed a contemporary workplace that is non-hierarchical and high-performance, with an eclectic mix of hip hotel aesthetics, in a nod to the building's previous function.
Voting ends on 20th March 2018, Tuesday 2359 (GMT+8).