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A destination for work, creating, play and collaboration, the space is creative, practical and provides employees with peace of mind as they return to the office.
Autex Acoustics, JBH Acoustics (acoustic treatment)
We’re fortunate enough to be presented with some of the best workplace schemes in the UK, so it can be difficult to decide upon which projects to include in the limited number of pages we have. In the vast majority of cases, the differentiator is the story behind the scheme. That is certainly true of the new Autodesk London working home.
Autodesk is an American multinational software corporation that makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries, headquartered in San Rafael, California with offices worldwide.
The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, who was co-author of the first versions of AutoCAD – software used on projects from the One World Trade Center to Tesla electric cars.
A destination for work, creating, play and collaboration, the new Autodesk space in Covent Garden is both creative and practical, while also providing employees with peace of mind as they return to the office.
Not an easy combination to pull together, but smartly achieved here by Tétris – and when we say smart, we mean smart. Tish Scott, Senior Designer, Tétris UK, gives us some background to the project. ‘Our client knew what they wanted and demanded uncompromising attention to detail. The design had some strict criteria to adhere to – everything had to be truly unique.’
We ask Tish about the design/build process – and she reveals that this involved a combination of collaboration and technology.
‘The project was delivered with a geographically dispersed team, aggressive timeline and the challenges of working during lockdown,’ she explains.
‘As the project was managed on BIM 360, which saved in the Cloud, Tétris designers in the UK and South Africa were able to access all plans and work on the project simultaneously from different offices. This enabled us to staff the project according to who is most suited to work on it rather than being constrained by geographic necessity. As a result, the project benefitted from the technical expertise of the South Africa team, coupled with the creative design expertise and build capabilities of the UK team – an exemplary case of collaboration without borders.
‘With the design agreed beforehand, the building was scanned for a Revit shell (to create 3D Revit model) that is accurate to the smallest detail. At the same time as the scan, a Pano tour was conducted to create a virtual photographic survey, which allowed us to pick up measurements. This reduced the number of physical site visits needed – a great advantage during the pandemic – and sped up the process by being able to get answers to questions quickly just by looking at the imagery.
‘The design objectives for this project were completed within an aggressive timescale, totally remotely, during a challenging year at the height of lockdown from March to December 2020. As a result, the space is creative, practical and provides employees with peace of mind as they return to the office.’
The design concept here centres on a ‘walk in London’, with each part of the space representing a different district: Shoreditch, Soho, Clerkenwell and Mayfair. ‘The story is discovered as you walk around the atrium, which represents the Thames flowing through the city, using a dichroic film on the glazing in which light rays having different polarisations are absorbed by different amounts,’ Tish explains.
‘Inspired by vibrant Shoreditch, the café and event space boast an eye-catching Aron acoustic metal panelled ceiling with special RAL colours and concrete effect hardwearing flooring.
‘The open plan space is moody Soho. Grey walls and black partition frames, skirtings and doors contrast with runways of flooring in bright pink and electric green.
‘The meeting rooms are named after artists with origins in Soho. In the Pink Floyd meeting room, eye catching pink Dye Lab carpets by Shaw Contract make a bold statement, with more pink upholstered furniture and full wall images.’
‘The designers and makers are in the Clerkenwell district, where the workshops of the 3D printer, robotic arm and green screen VR room are located, along with an exhibition area.
‘The front of house meeting rooms are characterised by elegant Mayfair, where you will find modern London music icons such as Elton, Bowie and Freddie, with a large light brick effect acoustic wall and heavy curtains across one wall. A modern take on classic chandeliers in delicate circular hoops hang over the meeting tables.
‘It’s a colourful and vibrant space. It’s textural and appeals to the senses. With the client’s team involved in the process, including the naming of the meeting rooms, along with the design concept, it reflects its location perfectly and further amplifies a sense of local community and neighbourhoods.
‘At the heart of the concept is a sense of place, given that the concept is based on a walk through London. This is a space with its own sense of identity as the client’s brief was to create a truly individual project, so no two Autodesk offices are ever the same.’
The space boasts a robotic arm, 3D printing workshops and a green screen room, as well as spaces to accommodate large team gatherings, games areas and a sizeable teapoint to allow distancing and avoid overlaps in circulation. Safety is also a consideration here, with foot operated release latches for bins and doors wherever possible. In addition, a natural circuit (for when times demand) is created by the atrium and in the open plan area, with two walkways demarcated by pink and green geometric carpeting, allowing staff to get some steps in.
As the client wanted something truly unique, Tétris couldn’t use any designs or products that were used by them before, Tish reveals. The reception makes a bold statement, textural and unique with a metallic texture on wall, floor and ceiling consisting of Rimex metals and Autex panels, bespoke metal ceiling, and Milliken flooring.
‘I would say that my favourite element of the space is the teapoint with its geometric tiles, and the thought that went into making it safe for social distancing, with good circulation and touch-free elements,’ she considers. ‘The dark cabinets make a bold statement against the contrast of the bright orange pops of colour in the stools, ceiling and even orange grout in the tiles!’
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