Home' Commercial : Commercial Designs 2010 Contents 96 WA's Best Commercial Designs 2010
this applies to contact between floors as well
as contact between offices, or within open
In one study, communication between
engineers on separate floors, who were provided
with visual contact and easy vertical movement,
was found to be 14 times higher than that in
buildings which offered neither.
By contrast, other research shows the
importance of quiet spaces for those engaged
in tasks requiring uninterrupted concentration.
In one study, individuals working in quiet
spaces achieved 16 percent higher performance
scores in memory tests and almost 40 percent
higher in mental arithmetic tests, than others
working in open office environments with
significant levels of background noise.
Other studies show significant levels of lost
time as a result of interruptions caused by general
conversation, and the need for 15 minutes of
"immersion time" before returning to optimum
levels of concentration following an interruption.
All this research points to a need for a variety
of work settings within organisations.
And while architects and designers can assist
with the planning and design, significant input
from the organisations themselves is essential.
Alison Terry, a researcher for multidisciplinary
design practice HASSELL, says it's becoming
clearer that organisational and workstyles
profiling, plus staff engagement, are three key
inputs which are now considered essential to
informing a good design outcome.
" e quality of the design is directly
proportional to the quality and quantity of
the organisational input i.e. how much leg
work they do to find out what they need to
know about themselves and how they want
to operate," explains Alison.
She points to SA Water as an excellent example
of this "new" organisational approach -- a
combination of a people-focused accommodation
agenda and an integrated design approach.
SA Water (HASSELL)
With assistance from DEGW, SA Water set out
to find a solution to an imminent workforce
shortfall (due to an ageing workforce) and a
geographically-entrenched cultural disconnect
(due to staff being spread over multiple sites).
e subsequent plan to consolidate its
metropolitan operations in a single site
supported a number of agendas, particularly
culture and engagement, staff attraction and
retention, unification and long-term bottom
Feedback from an extensive staff engagement
process, helped establish the subsequent project
principles and brief.
ese were augmented by focus group reviews
of work styles and protocols, and user input to
Such an extensive knowledge capture provided
a solid foundation for HASSELL to develop a highly
sustainable base building and fitout, combining
both work spaces and laboratories.
Importantly, the brief also initiated a post-
occupancy review process, which would extend
knowledge capture into the use phase.
Completed in late 2008, SA Water's new
workplace has achieved exactly what the
organisation's leadership wanted for its culture
Rent cost is no more than it would have been
using conventional procurement methods and
staff attraction and retention is improving with
graduate applications having soared to 440 in
2009 from an average of 150 in previous years.
e result of this project illustrates how design
firms, workplace consultants and organisations
can partner to interpret desires and develop
objectives, in order to create an integrated
workplace and, in so doing, produce a successful
triple bottom line return to business.
Jacqui Preshaw, principal of architectural and
design firm Woodhead, says that understanding
what a client needs also leads to flexibility within
She highlights the importance of not only
understanding how the business currently
operates, but how it might change in the future
so that the design can cater for that change.
"Flexibility is a very significant factor in all
the work that we do," she says. "For example,
we'll always try and plan so that two small
HASSELL's design of SA Water's headquarters helped achieve a triple bottom line return for the business.
SA Water images courtesy of HASSELL, photography Trevor Mein
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