Interior design facilitates the way we live our lives and how we function in different spaces. The layout of an office environment significantly influences our ability to collaborate with staff members and clients, the ability to share ideas, communicate and utilize resources to their best potential. Engaging an interior designer from the outset of any corporate project is vital to achieve this, particularly considering that thoughtful office design can drastically boost staff productivity and efficiency.
The task was very specific with novospace being required to create a work environment that promoted collaboration and connectivity in a truly African space – a 12000 square metre head office to 650 employees across various business divisions. It was clear that a well-designed office layout would be essential for a large, differentiated business, the space needed to cultivate smooth work flow and attract and retain RCL’s very large human resource base. These demands provoked the need to design spaces for various tasks. A series of different workstations, collaborative spaces, meeting rooms and break-out areas became essential components which took various shapes and forms, depending on frequency of use and specific functional requirements.
There were many project team meetings to resolve a space planning solution that would encourage staff collaboration. An activities-based working environment emerged as the solution, resulting in areas specifically designed to accommodate the various activities that staff encounter daily. Some of the interesting spaces that resulted and define this project include:
- quick 5-minute meeting rooms
- boardroom session
- private phone call booths
- quiet areas to complete focus work
- cafes and coffee break spots
The concept behind the space planning was to allow for connectivity, collaboration and flexibility. Business units were grouped in various zones and were placed adjacent to other business units, which allows for optimum synergy between the various stakeholders. Collaboration was engaged through the inclusion of various collaboration booths and connectivity stations, where employees are able to plug into nearby collab stations and chat through projects with team players, instead of occupying valuable meeting rooms. This strategy encourages employees to move away from their open plan desks as not to disrupt their colleagues. Call booths and focus rooms function similarly and provide more private working spaces if necessary, while public meeting rooms and gathering spaces are located on the ground floor where employees meet visitors. The quadruple volume atrium serves as its heart, linking the various meeting, collaboration and work zones and creating a fully connected work environment. The space planning solution intentionally allows all staff, whether at their desks or in a meeting room, to enjoy external views and natural daylight throughout the day.
The office design process was an extensive collaboration between the interior designers, novospace, and architects, EPA. The interior design concept that emerged was termed ‘funky raw’. The idea was to apply honestly expressed textures and materials throughout the building, using polished concrete, exposed brickwork and concrete soffits, rough sawn timber, exposed steel and glass. The building accommodates the full staff compliment over four floors. The floor plates are dissected with a striking quadruple volume glazed atrium and connecting the four floors, is a steel and timber staircase with a series of interconnecting bridges. The bridges are vital in facilitating and encouraging interaction amongst RCL staff. We gave careful consideration to areas that required acoustic treatment and achieved this by using suspended acoustic panels in brightly coloured fabrics. We attached informal meeting bays to promote perchance meetings or cups of coffee within the buzz of the atrium's activity. The branding colours were also weaved into furniture pieces, way finding signage and artwork, yielding a result which is a stunning interaction between the building’s architecture and its interior design.
- Novospace was part of an extraordinary collaboration to create a bespoke environment and new culture for RCL Foods - an amalgamated business of five individual corporate acquisitions. Required to accommodate 700 people and a multiplicity of different meeting and collaborative spaces, the focus was to create a work environment that attracted and retained the best human resource talent, promoted collaboration and connectivity in a truly African space.
- A series of different workstation types, collaborative spaces, meeting rooms and break-out areas became essential components, which took various shapes and forms depending on frequency of use and specific functional requirements. This took the form of executive offices, boardrooms, touchdown meeting zones, coffee stations, pause areas, print hubs, phone booths and meeting pods.
- The interior concept that emerged at an early stage became known as ‘funky raw’ and this term has stuck as the defining description of the interior design. A crisp exterior is contrasted by the off-shutter concrete, exposed brickwork, rough sawn timber and exposed steel. Colour punctuates and enlivens the industrial feel created by these elements, in the form of bright acoustic panels, large-scale artworks, funky furniture pieces, way finding signage and artwork, and various statement ceilings, walls and floors.
- Another key driver behind many interior design elements was the desire to include the nature of RCL’s food businesses. This resulted in the inclusion of large-scale murals and art installations created out of painted plates and thousands of wooden spoons, and oversized cutlery-shaped legs on occasional tables. Other food-inspired elements are a highly creative and visual way finding system created for meeting rooms and various office spaces named after kitchen utensils and crockery. A giant wooden fork encased by the glass bar-top is the focal point of the outdoor sky bar terrace.
Material Used :
1. Wisa Birch ply
2. Interpon - powder coating products
3. ISS - caesarstone
4. Lafarge - oils concrete floors
5. Acousticworx - acoustic panels
6. Capco - partitioning
7. Vaal and cobra - sanware
8. Marmoran - decorative wall coatings
9. Dulux - paint supplier
10. Belgotex - custom designed commercial carpet for project