dtac, one of the leading telecommunication providers in Thailand, underwent a rebranding with a focus on its young 3 and dynamic client base and workforce. The coinciding need to relocate the dtac community of 3,500 staff to 62,000sqm of a mixed-use development provided a timely opportunity to articulate the rebrand through a newly designed workplace environment. A corporate philosophy of ‘play and learn’ was adopted as a central part of the rebranding and a principle aim of the new workplace design was to communicate this philosophy to staff and visitors alike.
As a major project of interest in Bangkok, dtac held a design competition process involving eight local and international design firms and researched similar international workplace projects in Japan and Norway which influenced dtac’s aspirations. International design practice, HASSELL, won the competition to design dtac’s new workplace drawing on its local understanding of Thai workplace design and its experience designing some of the world’s most progressive workplaces.
Conceptually dtac’s business is aligned to local and cultural elements within the Thai landscape. The concept is described through five interrelated elements – river, bridge, flow, splash and source. The dtac community is related by a ‘river’ as the connection point and mode of communication. The floors at the front of the house are the ‘bridge’, providing a meeting point across the river. The staff generate the ‘flow’ of the river. The recreation space creates an energetic ‘splash’ and the ‘source’ is the CEO level, which is the knowledge leadership of the company.
Individuality within the staff ‘flow’ was important throughout the 20-floor fitout and is reflective of the nature of each business group. This diversity is achieved through the forms, finishes and loose furniture selections chosen to define the groups. Individual expression through the choice of materials was essential for user identification and ownership because the floorplates of the working levels needed to maintain planning consistency to achieve a tight construction program. The common circulation corridor, stretching over 160m around the large building core, is deliberately broken up by giving definition to the individual rooms of the built zone through depth, set-out, lighting and finishes.
dtac has a strong public presence through its retail stores across the country and was therefore interested in exploring a non-traditional arrival area for its headquarters, more akin to a retail space. This approach sought to avoid barriers and create a personal greeting experience. The design solution includes touchdown pods where clients and staff can meet face-to-face within a large, expansively open environment.
The arrival space provides an open and flexible area that accommodates outpost retail outlets, an amphitheatre and a monthly indoor marketplace. The arrival and front-of-house spaces are not a private or exclusive domain, rather they cater for diverse use by both staff and visitors.
In addition to a focused breakout area on each working floor, one floor is also dedicated purely to staff recreational facilities. Being removed from any other floor, this facility works in positive isolation and provides non-work related environments, including a gym, indoor soccer, band stage and karaoke facilities as well as two large outdoor terraces, with a ‘skybar’ feel. The strong focus on recreation, intentionally separated from the work community, demonstrates the value placed by dtac on a holistic approach to staff wellbeing.
With three levels of front of house meeting areas, dtac was interested in pursuing a variety of meeting space designs to reflect and challenge the nature of its meeting culture. This investigation and exploration led to the development of the ‘conversation pit’, the ‘freeform meeting’, the ‘picnic table’ and the ‘dining room’. Similarly, there is a diverse range of screened meeting spaces dotted throughout the traditional formal spaces to allow for a variety of meeting environments and styles.
Social sustainability, particularly the health and wellbeing of staff, was a central criteria throughout the decision making process for the project. Open workspaces incorporating plants and the inclusion of a first aid, fitness and recreation area are among the most tangible results of this important focus. Furthermore, open and transparent space planning allows egalitarian access to views and natural light, with the overall workplace nurturing a sense of community where staff are encouraged to feel comfortable and relaxed.
Environmental sustainability was also an important consideration for dtac. The workplace design placed high value on sourcing the majority of materials and loose furniture locally. This strategy also made good business sense, yielding the lowest cost per area for a Grade A fitout in Thailand. The decision to source locally was led by both the client’s aesthetic design direction and dtac’s preference to support Thai products and designers. Eighty percent of construction materials were sourced locally and an abundance of solid timbers and locally made cotton and silk fabrics can be found throughout the fitout. In addition to the significant environmental benefits of selecting local