Koen and Associates Architecture
Research studies prove that the impact of the open-plan office on humans has a significantly positive influence on office function and interaction.
The mix of spaces also highlight other amenities such as conference and training areas, private spaces where formal meetings are held, collaborative spaces where informal meetings take place, as well as the need for open workspace in jobs benefiting from team work and or knowledge/skills sharing (Kendra Cherry, 2019).
Our Client, Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) had recently turned a notable 186 years, where they have been successfully providing insurance for the South African mining industry. To celebrate their achievement RMA appointed Koen & Associate Architecture to “re-invent” the traditional office space at their new home located at 10 St Andrews Parktown.
Koen & Associates Architects is an award-winning design and build infrastructure development company who pride ourselves on innovative design and the implementation of new typologies. Koen & Associates Architects aims were to renovate the typical office environment from its previously mundane, separated layout; to one which is open, integrated and where programmes flow effortlessly, encouraging an energetic and symbiotic relationship between “WORK – PAUSE – COLLABORATE”. This environment is inclusive of all individuals yet collectively represents the client, RMA as well as all it stands for: “Caring, Compassionate, Compensation.
Eliminating the culture of enclosed offices and cubicles results in enhanced collaboration and relationship-building allowing for future flexibility. Construction costs for the project were reduced by using a modern industrial design, exposing all previously hidden services like AC units, lighting and cables. The building is set to be given a “green facelift”, green systems such as a monitoring system will log trends against consumption and alert facilities’ management via email if there is an excess in consumption. The lighting power density achieves an energy use of less than 1.5W/m²/100lux for 98.1% of the office usable area using the Green Star recommended method of calculation. Amongst other concepts, water-saving sanitaryware including sensory low-flush systems assist in the conservation of water in the building.
The space allows for freestanding office desks, private meeting areas, collaborative spaces as well as lounge settings. Studies show that it is important for the brain to rest and reload, pause areas allow for this while the lounge settings promote socialising and strengthening amongst the team, illuminating the need for rigid time control and giving the employee a sense of responsibility and empowering them to manage their time in an unconstrainted manner.
The various floor and wall finishes are applied to define spatial function doing away with the traditional solid wall. This promotes open space and allows access to natural light and sensory artificial light in occupied spaces. Decorative acoustic panels and bulkheads will serve both an aesthetic and sound buffering purpose.
A combination of textures and colours set a mood that is both calm and vigilant, while primarily being connected to the company’s corporate identity. Flexible furniture was specified to allow for future changes and reorganisation. The traditional walled office with its pyramid organogram is outdated. The new open-plan space works for a more modern collaborative workforce who share, like and tweet. The current layout allows a flatter chain of command in new business with spontaneous sharing of information.
The new move to a new space is indicative of why RMA as a company has manged to maintain its 186 years of success. Keeping up with the current trends and needs of its workforce and consumers.