Innovative design produces efficient, fun work space

Innovative design produces efficient, fun work space

A new stairwell was inserted in the existing concrete slab between the eighth and ninth floors, where the mezzanine level is located.

When Inhouse Brand Architects was approached to create the new Cape Town offices of top local advertising agency 99c, its interior design team used the opportunity to produce an extraordinary – yet more efficient – work environment.

The 3 000 m² premises occupy the top three floors of Atlantic Centre, an office development on the Foreshore. The double-volume interior is partly broken by a mezzanine level, and views take in the harbour and Devil’s Peak.

Inhouse’s goal was to create a functioning environment to suit the client’s daily business needs, and to reflect the creative nature of the agency and its employees.

The design team, headed by creative director Aidan Hart and Moiisha Visagie, looked at the employees’ possible needs from the perspective of activity-based work principles, and allowed for all types of interaction including high-focus individual desks and high-communication zones that would encourage and allow teamwork, interaction and collaboration.

According to Hart, the latest office design thinking contends that collaboration happens at the water-cooler so you don’t need to tie up office space or meeting rooms that often stand empty for most of the day.

He says that one of the problems with corporate office space is level-by-level stagnation where departments are divided into operational sectors that foster an “us and them” mentality.

According to 99c managing director Andrew Brand, it was important that the new office space expresses the firm’s creativity as well as encouraging and enhancing it.

Inhouse inserted a new stairwell in the existing concrete slab between the eighth and ninth floors, where the mezzanine level is located. The boardroom was placed on the eighth floor, away from the ninth floor reception and lounge areas, to force movement between the floors.

The existing staircase between the ninth floor and the mezzanine level was also removed and a new stadium structure was installed. The structure houses – and hides – the kitchen that services the café and bar area below. The stadium steps double as a staircase leading to and from the mezzanine as well as unassigned seating, providing an arena that is a gathering spot for the entire company. A large motorised projection screen is hidden when not in use, and turns the arena into a big-screen cinema to review work, or watch advertisements and films.

A series of semi-private pods and high-energy meeting spaces was created throughout the space to allow employees to interact freely without tying up boardrooms. The corporate colours, burnt orange, blue, black and lime yellow, are used to brighten detailing and feature walls. Colourful elements include oversized dome pendants that illuminate the space.

Taking advantage of the double-volume span, Inhouse installed six large trees around which café tables are laid out. This indoor landscaped garden on raised decking demarcates a communal, informal zone. In addition to the trees, living walls were placed throughout the space to link it to the natural environment.

In keeping with the theme of sustainability and respect for the natural environment that runs throughout a recycled shipping container has been innovatively converted into a modern waiting room.

With the office’s panoramic views of container ships in the harbour, the waiting room is a subtle reminder to 99c employees of the importance of client service and delivery, says Hart.

Inhouse’s interior design projects include Ogilvy Cape Town, Black River Park FC and Metropolitan Republic Johannesburg, as well as restaurants such as The Test Kitchen and Carne SA and corporate offices for Union Swiss, and several others. In 2013 Inhouse received eight local and international awards and accolades, including a Silver Cannes Lion.



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