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Award-winning design firm Gensler has relocated its Birmingham office to 4 St Philip’s Place, in the heart of the city’s central business district, allowing the studio to expand after more than doubling in size over the last 18 months.
Embracing a hybrid working model, the new Birmingham HQ has been designed to augment the activities, behaviours and experiences that cannot be fulfilled at home – offering employees an alternative, progressive, flexible space to experiment with new ways of working whilst expanding their autonomy and choice.
Designed in-house by Gensler’s interiors team, the 3,700 sq ft studio is characterised by an open office environment supported by distinct zones, including a series of shared informal spaces, meeting rooms, booths and client areas. Incorporating a high percentage of free address working, focus is given to providing a choice to individuals and teams of where to work. The workplace strategy clusters teams in ‘neighbourhoods’, aligned to foster collaboration. Gensler’s smart space management system, Wisp, enables flexibility in the studio by supporting desk reservations, check-ins, hot-desk management and wayfinding.
A bold and playful aesthetic defines the interiors, juxtaposing it with the building and its historic surrounds. The Red Gallery – which speaks to the Gensler brand and showcases its projects and people – welcomes you into the space. An area for meetings, charrettes, design reviews, collaboration and informal gatherings, it offers a spirited glimpse of what’s to be discovered beyond.
In the Observatory, full height, openable windows offer panoramic views of the Grade I listed St Philip’s Cathedral and square. With plenty natural ventilation and daylight, the space functions as a kitchen and ‘decompression zone’ whilst also providing informal working areas where employees can unwind, regenerate, socialise and enjoy the familiarity of home. The connection to the outside helps to increase wellbeing; re-energising and motivating colleagues, giving them space for contemplation.
The Workshop is the nerve centre of the studio with open plan workspace, storage, focus space, meeting and collaboration areas. Adaptive furniture solution, Atelier – which is designed by Gensler in collaboration with Fantoni is utilised here, and combines a multiplicity of spatial functions and a lightweight modular structure which adjusts to changing work requirements and technologies. Employees are able to easily reconfigure the space to establish their own ecosystems for creativity, collaboration, concentration and innovation, encouraging fluid teamworking.
The Gold Stage – with its raised, tiered seating and built-in-storage – is a multifunctional and adaptable environment. It provides an alternative work setting and a place for collaborating, focusing and socialising. In addition to the high-spec conference rooms with technology geared towards hybrid meetings, the studio also includes two private, acoustically sealed booths for privacy and focus. One booth is non-bookable and also functions as a wellness room. The booths have variable ambient lighting with adjustable colour temperature and levels – to help suit all moods. The lighting adjustments will also aid teams when matching sample palettes to the expected light levels and colour temperature of future project environments, ensuring true colour rendition when making material selections.
The design of the studio encourages health, sustainability and wellbeing with spaces designed to encourage an active work life, movement and interaction. Physical activity is promoted using principles of active design such as adjustable workstations, activity spaces and clustered amenities and equipment. Additionally, the location offers improved access to parks and communal gardens, high-quality public realm and the canal networks, further supporting active lifestyles and movement, helping employees maintain the healthy behaviours cultivated over lockdown.
“As world-leading workplace strategists and designers, our clients are looking to us to understand the challenges and opportunities of adopting hybrid working,” comments, Gensler’s Managing Director Tariq Shaikh. “We see this new workspace as a place that responds to what our people need each day. We know that we can’t always anticipate future needs – but we can anticipate change and proactively respond. So, by making adaptability a functional goal of our design through ensuring reconfigurability, providing as many alternative work settings as possible and giving people the choice of where and when to use these spaces, this will be a place in permanent beta mode – allowing us to continually trial, test and better understand how we work, and most importantly, how we want to work in future.”
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