Architects: Jose Gutierrez
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Architects: Jose Gutierrez Ltd.
Area: 200.0 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Emily Andrews
From the architect. The Research Agency is a boutique market research company. The brief was to create an elegant office that would cater well to their high profile clients, while also maintaining a cool relaxed space that was inclusive to all staff.
The key elements of the design are the spatial analysis of the existing space, carefully selected materials and manipulation of light. The overall result is a carefully thought out design that caters very well to the clients needs. The innovative design blends in well with the elegance of the existing 1920’s building and has created a unique space out of one that was previously run down and unappreciated.
Manipulation of light / Branding wall
The first element seen upon entering the space is the existing north facing windows that let through an abundance of natural light. The unfortunate thing was that the view through these windows was of a tired and shabby mansard roof, an undesirable first impression for the company’s high profile clients. The solution was to create a filter to let through light while at the same time blocking the view. The concept of filtering light is directly related to the company’s function as a market research agency in filtering information. This aspect evolved into the idea of creating a blank billboard, also relating to their services; their research forming the framework for their client’s final product. It acts on various levels providing the “wow” factor, but also is located intentionally to filter the light and block the view. The billboard is constructed from raw steel and was welded on site. The translucent voile sheers behind it help to block the view and also carry through the theme of the new and the old, the raw and the elegant. The raw steel billboard is a bold element that reinforces their company branding.
The client wanted a space that would make all staff feel included, the solution was to create two custom designed 1.7m wide desks that stretch over 10m along the space. The fact that all staff work on the same desk helps to contribute to office morale and keeps the intimacy of a boutique agency. It also dissolves office hierarchy and in turn creates a more inviting workspace for staff. The desktop is designed to look as if it is floating, it has no legs on the outer edges and cantilevers from a central support that houses all the cabling and computer equipment. The work desks are finished in “desktop linoleum” that acts as a giant mouse pad and is adhesive fixed to the desktop in one continuous roll without any joints. The edges of the desktop are finished with a brushed gold anodised aluminium trim.
In order to keep the work desks uncluttered a wall-hung storage unit was designed to run parallel along the length of the desks. This is finished in reconstituted Tasmanian oak veneer and has brushed gold anodised aluminium doors to tie in with the edge trim on the work desks. An on-show kitchenette and island unit are finished in the same materials. The island unit works as a lunch space and informal meeting area which is used on a daily basis. The gold brushed anodised aluminium panels further reflect the light and provide another textured layer.
Custom made acoustic sheets area a key element that contributes to the overall feel and ambience of the space. They are suspended off the existing concrete ceilings; retain the exposed beams and height of the space whilst concealing the electrical services, providing high acoustic performance with minimal visual clutter.
Resin bound gravel flooring
The existing floor had a layer of cement screed that was in very poor condition. Resin bonded gloss black gravel was poured over the existing floor, which remedied the unevenness of the floor and created a seamless finish. The nature of the floor contributes to manipulating the natural light source, as it shimmers and reflects the ambient light. It is a robust yet elegant finish.
One of the client’s specific requirements was for a whiteboard near an informal meeting space. This translated into a “writing wall” that was clad in full height acrylic panels. Again, these are not only utilitarian but also create interesting reflections of light, thus relating to the common theme of light manipulation throughout the project.
The boardroom is a key part of their business, as the space where they conduct their final presentations to their client’s at the completion of each project. The black high gloss ceiling mirrors the black floor finish and reinforces the drama of the space that is created by the natural light filtering through the translucent voile sheers on the surrounding walls. Customised 19th Century portraits of well-known Auckland business entrepreneurs have been designed to float over the curtains.