Spirit of Growth

 03 Aug 2014

Singapore’s Eastspring Investments has chosen to base its new offices around a breakout area – the “trunk” from which everything else branches out – to breed a culture of interaction, collaboration and communication.

When Geyer Design approached the brief it had been delivered by Singapore’s Eastspring Investments (part of the Prudential Group, but known as Prudential Asset Management at the time) it took a very organic approach to the job at hand. As Kahn Yoon, designer, associate and partner of Geyer Design Singapore, explains, “We used the concept of a young growing tree with deep roots to inform our design details and language.” Yoon headed up a team that included designers Serene Wong and Matilda Sung, which was charged with the task of creating a new headquarters for the firm over two floors of a Singapore office block. “They envisioned a workspace that reinforced a unique Asset Management identity while acknowledging the stability and tradition of the bigger Prudential organisation,” says Yoon.

The tree concept can be seen in both the warmth of the materials used and in the design details. At the design’s core is a main staff breakout area that is accessible from the lift lobby that functions, on level 31 and 32 of the building, as the space’s “tree trunk” and focal point – with all the other aspects of the office branching from it.

“People gravitate to the interaction space for casual discussion, lunch and events”

This breakout area is visible to all visitors from the main reception area, thereby “elevating the culture of interaction and communication”, says Yoon. A staircase links straight into the breakout area from below so that facilities are easily shared between the two floors. The area has proven enormously successful. “People gravitate to the interaction space for casual discussion, lunch and company events,” he says. Although the space really comes into its own at “morning tea time and lunch”, he adds, and has been expressly designed to “accommodate the rush for coffee, tea and chilled water with two Zip HydroTap systems of the largest capacity provided.” An additional unit has been installed in the client service area and at an additional breakout area pantry to “provide quick access to the staff on half of level 31”.

“The company values the welfare of their staff and wanted to create an environment that inspired trust in their people and growth of the company,” says Yoon. It’s the staff-centric approach that also led to creating working floors that determinedly didn’t represent “a sea of workstations” – instead featuring coloured panels, column and whiteboard details and “cross circulation aisles wherever the space allowed,” Yoon adds.

But this commitment to breeding a culture of communication and interaction can really be seen in the provision of an innovative floor plan that has a large welcoming space as its “trunk”, calculated to engender close collaboration over a glass of chilled/filtered water or a steaming cup of tea.

"Article taken from Boiling Point issue no. 18, published by the Indesign Media Asia Pacific. Words by Guy Allenby, Photography by Owen Raggett, Interior Designer by Geyer Design"