On the one hand the BVN Sydney studio is a simple reworking of a typical 1970’s commercial office floor – on the other hand it is a daring move to create an interior working space using only the bones of a high-rise concrete building. Increasingly it is accepted that spaces that are conducive to productive activity are open and transparent with plenty of formal and informal meeting spaces and lots of shared facilities like cafes, libraries, even foosball tables. However these are simply parts of a whole, it is how they are put together that determines the ultimate feel or atmosphere of the space and whether it makes people want to be there and engage in useful activity.
When designing its own studio space in the Sydney Hilton Hotel complex BVN had the added constraints imposed by a 70’s floor plate containing a forest of supporting columns. By removing the cladding from the columns, their size was significantly reduced and the decision to leave the columns as built, even with builders’ penciled notes, provides an authentic level of ‘found’ detail. The ceiling grid and tiles were removed to reveal all the services and new cable trays were inserted to carry computer and lighting cables in, a bit like a large race-track, around the whole ceiling. Industrial elements including the galvanized hollow scaffolding columns are used to take computer and power cables down to work stations. The removal of all extraneous finishes expose the raw and robust structure creating a functional working studio.
In BVN’s Sydney Studio there are no offices, only meeting rooms; these can be either opened to the wider space with sliding doors or closed for privacy. All wall surfaces are usable as either drawing boards or pin up walls. An elevated timber floor steps up from the concrete floor to form a ‘verandah’ along the Pitt Street edge, that includes a kitchen area, window benches, drop down screen and projector, television, free standing meeting tables and chairs, sofas and a foosball table. The verandah also has a new plywood ceiling, completing its differentiation from the main work floor. Lighting is deliberately subdued with each work station having its own task lamp – this creates a softly dappled lighting effect throughout the studio.
The informality and accessibility of this studio begins at reception, where there is no reception desk, just a round table with a welcome smile. To say something about the making of buildings a model making space is immediately adjacent to the reception area, whilst the wall leading from the lifts past reception and the boardroom is lined with photographs of recent and current BVN architecture.Location: Sydney, Australia
Architect: BVN Architecture
Inside Entry: 2011 Photograph: John Gollings – Gollings Photogrpahy