When given the task of transitioning MMC’s workspace from a traditional design to a ‘smart office’ Workplace strategists Aecom (with the aid of PTID) undertook the grand task of conducting numerous workshops, meetings, interviews and utilisation studies to best develop the perfect office design. PTID Designer and Senior Associate Karen Fairfax notes, “As we had worked with MMC on many past projects we already had a deep understanding of their organisation and how they worked, however given their directive to embark on a new Smart Office approach we still needed to delve right in to further understand what this new directive would be. We held detailed workshops with the end users to better understand their future needs and technical requirements so we were sure not to miss anything that was important for the success of the project.” What followed was a rigorous strategy built upon four key principles. “LOOK FORWARD, PULL TOGETHER, CREATE and ADD VALUE” soon became the foundation of the design approach, providing an environment that is transparent, accessible and open and connected, allowing people to easily interact either physically or virtually.
But first, you may ask, what IS a ‘smart office’?
“A Smart Office is not a prescribed solution; rather, it is a way of integrating space sharing, openness, and alternative work settings to achieve the desired benefits. The aim is that more employees will actually come into the office, since a more vibrant, flexible office will provide a better range of work settings for the different needs of interaction and concentration”, states Fairfax. After conducting their studies, workshops and interviews, PTID in collaboration with Workplace strategists Aecom came to develop a cohesive set of principles for the design process ahead.
The outcomes of the workplace strategy survey led the project requirements as follows:
- 100% open plan, unassigned – no offices
- Target Ratio 0.7 (7 desk for 10 persons)
- Space Use 50% shared collaborative facilities / 50% focussed individual work zone
- Connectivity – contiguous space across and between floors – stairs
- Technology – mobility, access, devices
- Records Management – digital
- Change Management / Communication- staff engagement and understanding
Based on this process PTID developed a ‘kit of parts’, which formed the foundation of the planning principles and the final layout. In finalising the project, the designers took inspiration by the colours of the surroundings of the Barangaroo precinct and Sydney Harbour, paying homage to the iconic Sydney architecture seen translated into some of the patterns on the interior detailing, floor finishes patterns and wall panelling. Fairfax notes, “Our knowledge of the client also helped us to understand their evolving strategies… Backed up by field observation and the Aecom workplace studies a brief was developed that provided an operational framework against which we could develop an environmental experience for all occupants.”