Take a fast growing financial data company, 50+ young staff working long hours under intense pressure, a global client base, kilometres of cabling and technological infrastructure, and an old building, and you have one very challenging commercial fit-out project.
Collaborating closely with the clients branding and interiors agency End of Work, Those Architects have turned this brief on its head creating a sleek, tactile and light-filled 850 square meter space in the landmark heritage-listed Metcalfe Bond Store, on Sydney’s lower George Street, built between 1912 and 1916. The sophisticated design of the new workspace is underpinned by highly evolved technology systems and overcomes the many challenges of designing for a heritage protected building.
Those Architects’ client, Ansarada, provides virtual data rooms for large-scale business transactions worldwide. The company was named Deloitte’s 2009 technology fast 50 winner, Smart Company’s 2010 most innovative company, and in 2011 handled London’s largest ever IPO, the $59.2 billion Glencore offer. Ansarada now has offices around the globe, and works with some of the worlds leading financial services firms and investment banks. Yet its roots remain firmly in Sydney, now in a harbour side location, directly opposite the famous Opera House.
“We deal in a virtual, data-driven world but our most valuable asset are the people behind the scenes,” says Ansarada CEO Sam Riley. “We aim to simplify, not complicate things, not just in our product interface but for our clients, and the way we work as a team. We wanted our new Sydney office to be a truly wonderful space. Serious yet playful, simple, authentic and contemporary. Our workplace should reflect these values, and make a positive difference to our lives, and to our clients. This fit-out does all of those things”.
The result is breathtaking. A textured and light filled space overlooking Sydney Harbour and the Opera House, with four 9 metre long custom designed workstations, transparent glass and disappearing walls, flexible spaces, cleverly hidden services and technology, bespoke joinery, and ultra fine detailing. The space includes work zones, video conferencing and boardrooms, meeting rooms, workshops and play spaces, a gym, kitchen, bar and entertaining areas – all with tactile, sensual surfaces that enliven the space and bring in natural light and air. The client loves it, and so do their clients.
“The biggest challenge for us was to figure out how to accommodate all this complex technology in a way that retains the integrity of the space, and our vision for it” said Ben Mitchell, co-founder of Those Architects. “It sounds simple, but architecturally we had to work incredibly hard to make sure the space functions seamlessly from a technological point of view, whilst performing acoustically and aesthetically to reflect the brands mantra of sophisticated simplicity”.
“This is a highly complex business that operates in the digital realm though develops most of its products in an analogue way. In fact its most important asset are its people” said Simon Addinall, Those Architects’ co-founder. “We really wanted to capture that in the fit-out, for it to be personal and tactual rather than cold and clinical”.
“The dichotomy between the digital fingerprint scanner and the timber door handle at the entry to the building are a good example of this interplay” Ben says. “Whilst the fit out is backed by some serious technology, the architecture remains legible to the user by way of scale and tactility that respond to the human condition”. The Sydney project is the first of a series of global fit outs planned by the client.