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London studio APA Architects has created a set of collaborative offices for credit card company Barclaycard at its headquarters in Northampton, England, which are designed for a specific way of working.
APA spent 10 weeks transforming the office into what Barclaycard has named a CoLab space, ripping up the old carpets and up-cycling existing furniture pieces.
The studio’s intention was to create an environment of “rawness and robustness”, which workers could use while working in groups on technology projects and other business initiatives using a methodology called Agile.
“The Agile method of working follows a completely different flow diagram to standard processes, it also actively encourages evolution,” said APA.
“To support this the designers created a physical framework to define spaces relevant for the individual and the group daily dynamics.”
A series of wood- and metal-framed partitions break up the space into more intimate zones for project teams.
The frames are in-filled with whiteboard panels – also mounted on existing walls – which employees can use for jotting down ideas.
“In the CoLabs small teams are brought together, allocated a team area, appoint a project owner, name their project using cinema-style signage and within a 30-day ‘sprint’ complete their task,” APA said.
The floor-to-ceiling panels also section off private meeting rooms of various sizes, where groups can present their projects. Elsewhere, smaller partitions create individual desk spaces to aid concentration.
A variety of natural wood and medium density fibreboard (MDF) modular tables can be easily re-arranged by workers as needed.
“By bringing natural light, real materials and user health strategies to their corporate real estate, [Barclaycard is] modernising using design,” saidAPA, which has also worked on residential projects in London, and store design for Stella McCartney.
Chairs are mismatched in different styles and colours, while standing desks are also added for use during shorter informal meetings.
APA added greenery to meeting tables, and decorated walls with vintage clocks that display the time in different countries, as well as countdown to deadlines.
Barclaycard’s Northampton office is the first to receive a CoLab space. APA is also working on converting the company’s offices in India, Europe and South Africa to include similar facilities.
“The CoLab design itself is evolving, each iteration accommodates the latest learning and development plus localisation is encouraged to impact the designs – a far stretch from the corporate cookie cutter days where ever new enterprise came with a doorstop sized handbook and brand guideline,” the studio said.
“There is tremendous atmosphere and energy in the CoLabs, people clearly enjoy collaborating and have responded in hugely positive ways – self expression and colleague support has improved.”
Recent research by office furniture brand Haworth emphasises the essential role architecture and design can play in company culture.
Last week, Jeremy Myerson suggested that the Google-inspired fad for slides and ping-pong tables is having a damaging effect in the workplace.