Keeping one step ahead of the competition is a hallmark of every successful company. But being progressive isn't just about business acumen; it's also about an effective, highly efficient workplace.
BP has long recognised the importance of the work environment in terms of productivity and attracting and retaining talent. The company also recognises the nature of the modern-day workplace is changing there is a much greater need for worker interaction, collaboration and the cross pollination of ideas and resources.
Frank van Hattum, New Zealand general manager convenience retail and asset management for BP, says merging the company's two offices was an ideal opportunity to explore such a workplace design. BP commissioned Unispace to come up with an appropriate interior for a new head office in the Watercare building in Remuera, Auckland.
Design director Sarah Langford says BP's former offices were traditional and compartmentalised, with high partitions between work spaces.
"Even so-called open-plan offices designed just 10-12 years ago don't suit modern work practices," she says. "This new office was a chance to further break down barriers. But the design also needed to fit with BP's corporate workplace and global standards, so we had many strategy meetings to discuss the overall vision with company representatives."
Langford says linking the two separate floors of the new office was the first priority.
"We opened up a 6m-diameter circular hole in the upper floor to create a void, and designed a wide spiral staircase. This forms the central node of the office, around which everything revolves. It also provides opportunities for staff interaction as they move through the office."
The staircase features sustainably sourced black beech timber treads, and forms a sculptural centrepiece in the reception area. Bands of black beech timber also curve around the spiralling glass balustrading.
"We deliberately chose B-grade timber for its textural look," says Langford. "The holes and knots in the wood add visual appeal. The same timber clads the curved wall accommodating the reception desk. For added interest we created arrow-shaped joins where the planks butt up against each other.
"On an abstract level, the raw, organic materials reference BP's involvement in the harnessing of natural energy. Similarly, the round motif recalls the sun, which BP incorporates into its branding, as the ultimate source of all energy."