Instant Office just add water

 09 Jun 2014

At 12WBT, the studio is a place for meetings. 

It says a lot about the ever-morphing nature of the modern workplace that this was a company that had a thriving workforce before it had a place it could call home.

The brainchild of television fitness celebrity, Michelle Bridges, 12WBT (which stands for 12 Week Body Transformation) is one case study that confirms that sectors of the workforce are evolving in unexpected ways. That is to say, it’s easy to assume that the natural order is now for companies to gradually devolve to a point where employees can increasingly work remotely, when in fact a company can manifest in exactly the opposite way.

It’s easy to assume that a go-ahead company’s evolution is now marked by ever more employees working remotely from the office, when in fact the opposite is also true.

As architect Ian Moore explains, before his firm designed 12WBT an office in Sydney’s Surry Hills “the company had 20 employees all working from home and this space has quite literally brought them all together for the first time.”

12WBT offers an individualised, online programme of exercises and diet and was initially run out of gyms with a small staff working from home. It was so successful that it needed an instant office and a corporate identity to match this young and vibrant new company.

The brief called for office space for 16 permanent staff, four hot desks, four directors offices, a reception room, a meeting room, shower and bathroom facilities and a studio space incorporating a full kitchen for online cooking demonstrations. The studio/ kitchen also had the dual purpose of serving as a breakout space for the office.

Needless to say the studio/kitchen is the hub of the office and central to its design – and a Zip HydroTap is a crucial element in handling the ever-present demand for boiling, chilled and filtered water in the space. “It’s a major social space for the staff and allows for casual meetings to take place around a large communal table that is also used for cooking demonstrations,” says Moore.

“The Zip HydroTap is a crucial element”

The need for connectivity yet privacy between the common areas and office space has been provided by a fritted glass. The studio can be screened off by a curtain during filming. The rest of the time “the space has been designed to make best use of the natural light and cross ventilation provided by the existing windows along the east and west facades of the building,” says Moore. “There are no internal walls to the space, minimising the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning.” All windows can be opened and there are no doors to the offices to impede ventilation. All light fittings are LED.

Built in what was a “rudimentary building with a concrete slab,” the ceilings are concrete too, so carpets have been added to ensure it isn’t a loud and echo-filled space – which would be unsuitable for filming. The yellow and avocado green carpet also lends the space its colour and the basis of palette, which is continued with Eames ‘Shell’ chairs upholstered in either grey or avocado green and two three-metre avocado green sofas. Meanwhile some Benjamin Hubert pendant lights “give the feel of a smaller, more intimate office rather than just a huge open plan commercial office space”. And, says Moore, they concentrate pools of light where needed.
"Article taken from Boiling Point issue no. 21, published by the Indesign Media Asia Pacific. Words by Guy Allenby, Photography by Daniel Mayne, Architect by Ian Moore Architects"