In response to the highly specific requirements of a spectroscopy research and development facility, SKM have created an intelligent workplace that can elicit the best from the bright minds that occupy it.
February 5th, 2014
Agilent Technologies’ $25M Spectroscopy Innovation and Technology Centre (SITC) is a purpose-built contemporary workplace environment for the design, refinement, prototyping and delivery of spectroscopy instrumentation.
The client brief requested two things: that the new workspace communicate the essence of spectroscopy (the study of how light passes through things) and that it transform how Agilent’s Research and Development team work.
In response to the first of these, the multi-layered facade expresses the essence of spectroscopy by creating a dynamic play of opacity, transparency and shadow. The facade’s depth presents alcoves for small team and individual work, and its irregularity (with full height windows of varying sizes) creates a sense of ‘neighbourhoods’ for teams, allows deep penetration of natural light and avoids the monotony of strip windows.
The transformation of work processes is addressed both on a macro, office wide level and in individual workstations. The sense of neighbourhoods created by alcoves is sustained with the gentle division of the workplace into distinct zones by the careful placement of pods – technologically rich environments for virtual teaming, stand up meetings, small group work or focussed individual production. Externally the pods introduce colour (the colours of the visible light spectrum) and texture to the office, whilst providing pin up space and acoustic dampening.
The workplace and furniture is designed for collaboration and communication, whilst acknowledging real requirements for privacy and concentration. Staff have a rich choice of physical environments that vary in size, embedded technology, degree of visibility and access, furniture type (i.e. posture) and texture. This range of workscapes ensures that there is an environment that best supports staff needs across a range of roles, generations, project types and sizes and work preferences.
Workplace design was also informed by SKM’s research into the impact of security barriers, lines of sight and ease of access on communication, collaboration and therefore knowledge transfer and innovation. The project team thus worked closely with Agilent Technologies to carefully respond to their stringent security requirements whilst maximising visibility and direct access. By plotting the locations that are most visible and accessible, SKM assisted the client in developing their seating allocation to maximize collaboration and exchange.
The social heart of the SITC is the ‘Town Square’, which contains the museum stair, cafe, sunken courtyard, Gen-Y space and clustered bootable and informal meeting spaces. Employing a more richly textured palette and geometry, the Town Square is the social heart of the building and campus. It is also a space for meeting, mentoring, collaboration, relaxation and communicating to customers and staff about the organisation’s past and future successes.
Project Architect Anna Maskiell comments that “Every aspect of the SITC – the spatial qualities, material selection, detailing, furniture specification, lighting and even ventilation – has been designed to disrupt ‘business as usual’ and provoke innovation. The building is a series of micro-environments for thinking, testing, knowledge sharing and production.”
Photography: Peter Bennetts
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