d+a – Data Sphere

d+a Issue 001/2001 (first issue)

Informal Centre
HYLA’s design for (data centre facilities service provider) DataSphere’s office is, logically, ‘based on how the company works’. The organisation’s hierarchy is such that the main departments – namely, the reception, sales, engineering and administration – are located on different floors (each of approx area 240m²) in the high-security four-storey building. How each department functions determines the rationale of its spaces. The core business of DataSphere is located at the top floor of the building where their servers are showcased; on this floor too is placed the CEO’s office. But particularly different from conventional office designs is the sales department on the third floor.

At DataSphere, ‘the sales person comes and goes, and being mobile works from his ‘laptop’. In organising the plan, HYLA introduced a central informal space called ‘the library area’ as a ‘facility to support the sales staff’s way of working’. (The idea of the central open space is similar to that of the ‘square’ serviced by a coffee-bar in’s office – see previous story) Here, meetings are held between clients and suppliers, and where the sales staff can plug in their mobile office into power-and-phone points installed along the slender anodised columns framing the full-length polycarbonate panels that section off the area as well as contain the noise here. The partially transparent panels allow a visual connection between the two zones; thus, going-on in the respective zones can be seen but not heard! Linked to the ‘library’ is the pantry that ‘helps bring some activity into this space.’ Initially, the client had wanted to cramp in a lot of work stations as the building has quite a lot of space’, but the designers managed to convince DataSphere the feasibility of having this informal ‘library’ area and that having a lot of work stations would be less of a benefit. Consequently, having the ‘library’ means the work areas can be treated minimally, as the sales staff is not likely to be spending a lot of their time at their stations but more in the ‘library’ where they can chat or discuss work over a cup of coffee. ‘It’s an alternative working space where people can be more relaxed to meet and discuss ideas, and then going back to their respective work stations where they need to focus.’ For private meetings, a conventional conference room is provided. Visitors arriving at this floor enters straight into the ‘library’, instead of first facing a receptionist in a blank space while the rest of the office is walled off. The service zone containing the toilets and stairwell, along the stretch of wall where the lift core is, is neatly concealed behind a timber-screen box devised as a ‘portal’.

Photographs: CI&A Photography