Medium-Size Office Winner
Project: Your Housing HQ Fit Out | Warrington UK
Firm: 5plus Architects Ltd | Manchester UK
Your Housing moved to a new headquarters not only to improve efficiency and reduce property costs, but also to reinforce a new identity for the staff in the newly named ‘Your Housing’. Staff was working inefficiently and part of the project was to develop new and flexible ways of working. Staff felt isolated from their customers – the people who occupied their housing. The brief we developed for the project included the need to bring customers into the office for training in spaces that are communal – customers should mix with staff in a central multi use space named the ‘Academy’. The academy includes a coffee bar, informal meeting spaces, relaxation areas, booths for semi private discussions and an external terrace area. The space is flexible with furniture easily moved for the occasional large gathering and various lighting and A/V options incorporated. The office space is based around a plug and play concept of flexibility. We defined modules based around subdivisions of the structural grid. Each module could take a bank of desks (benches), or two support components – these include small/medium meeting tables, high backed sofas, soft seating or filing cabinets. The floor box grid is standardized and all connected up so if the client wants to move or add in a bench of workstations, there is no need to lift the raised floor or undertake any re-wiring. The design has proven successful and very uplifting to staff.
The interior concept for the look and feel is based around domestic references to connect the building users with their clients – the tenants of their houses. We used domestic front doors, wallpaper, lampshades, colourful fabrics and even a timber fence. For the largest new surface however, the floor, we used the largest scale reference possible to connect to the tenants – that is the place where they live. We sampled colours from satellite images of the locations where Your Housing tenants are concentrated, and represented this as maps in large scale pixelated carpet arrangements for the office floors. We supplemented this with playful additions of floral and hexagonal patterned tiles in rooms and the Academy area. The flooring has been a great success and has taken the office a step away from a traditional office, moving toward a residential location.