3 November 2010

A little on SPEC - Part I

This morning started with a message from our IT manager: "Which horse do you have in mind?"

Yoshi looked over to me with a puzzled expression....that was when we both realised that it is Melbourne Cup Day today! (To all the people not overwhelmed by the horse fever in Australia ... you can find out more about it HERE ), and of course Sydney takes half a day off unofficially..... well, not at Facet Studio!

We had a meeting with our graphic designer, Studio SPEC, regarding redesigning our official website.

It has been a while since we completed the fitout design and construction at their office, was nice to see how everyone works happily within.  I must admit it is always a strange nostalgic feeling ....a space we were once so familiar with, like our own child.  So I thought today we can talk a little about the process we went through... a little on SPEC.

view from meeting space looking at the 2 boxes "inserted" into the original office context

We had an irregular site of 75m2 in an old office building to work with.  The site came with original office fitout from probably the 1980's.  Whilst there was temptation to renew the entire space, touching the original context (painting or nailing to it etc) presents solution for today and problem for future; when the tenancy lease contract terminates in few years, everything will need to be restored to its original state with tenant's cost.

Here we took CLUE (01) :  detach from the original context, whatever we were going to put into the space.

The next challenge came with programs.  Our client was the graphic designer; who currently employs 4 staff members and potentially expanding; who runs a graphic design seminar with students coming in and out; whose wife runs a beauty consultation service.  Of course everyone was to come into this 75m2 space without interrupting each other!

That was tough... we first analysed the activities of different user groups to understand what activities can be shared, what need to be private, and the degree of privacy.  Then we analysed the timeframe of each space usage and frequency/ duration of activities.

Here we took CLUE (02) : build 2 giant boxes in the space to accommodate the more private activities of graphic designer studio and beauty consultation room.  Spaces of various dimensions, between the boxes and the original context,  formed circulation, utility, student gallery and meeting space/ seminar room.

standing inside the beauty consultation box (which is black outside and white inside) looking towards the graphic designer box (which is white outside black inside).....keep reading to find out why...

Just when we thought we had everything sorted, lets not forget about architectural logistics....

A good business address in the centre of Sydney Central Business District equates to close to zero possibility in material delivery and contractor vehicle access during office hours, and restrictions with construction methods in respect to construction noise and dust for neighbouring businesses.

CLUE (03) : build whatever we can off site, and bring in for assemblage to minimise construction on site and disturbance to neighbours.

Easily said then done, this one...  we decided to build the giant boxes with small boxes - cupboard units - in the carpenters factory, and piece them together on site like life-size building blocks.  The giant boxes house (apart from people) all the electrical wiring and lighting; the small boxes house all the graphic designer's archive materials and library / beauty consultant's beauty products and packaging / graphic design seminar's stationary and resources.  We were then hit with 2 hurdles: money and time.

Money - the carpenter's price doubled the budget because of the sheer quantity of cupboards;

Time - given the lead time of carpentry work in factory, we ended up with 2 days on site for construction in time for scheduled client office move.

........ to be continued tomorrow.............

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