The fit-out has a semi-industrial feel with aluminium mesh featuring on the central stair, raw concrete floors at ground level, and a pared back choice of finishes generally. This aesthetic worked particularly well in an environment where ceilings, walls, floor and corridors had to be reconciled as the complex build forms were drawn together.
The new reception was one area where Jasmax worked with exposed beams and a confined area to create a feature ceiling with a zigzag lighting feature that acts like a wayfinder in its own right. The geometric feature is one of several touches that play on the idea of looking up through a power pylon and seeing the gridwork as a pattern from below.
This element is also echoed on the faceted front of the reception desk and on the graphic acoustic absorbtion panels on the atrium staircase.
However, it’s the six-level atrium that is the star feature in the interior design, and the fit-out actively encourages activity across and around it.
For example, while the main cafe is on the ground floor, staff kitchens are prominently sited near the stairs on each floor and so are visible from both sides of the atrium. These areas are designed as much for use as casual meeting spaces as they are for preparing and eating lunch.
Colourful, floor-specific signage, furniture and carpet patterning contribute to the energy of the interiors, and these elements can be seen when looking up or down or across the atrium. The colour-coded wayfinders add vibrancy and return a sense of localised space that’s otherwise lost by the comprehensive move to flexible desking.
“Transpower had actually set a target for the new building at 20% flexible and 80% fixed but by the end of the project this had reversed to 80% flexible and 20% fixed,” says Burton. “ On moving in, 90% of staff were using unassigned desking.”
The complexities of working within a number of existing buildings, often armed with only basic documentation of the structures, might sound like anyone’s architectural or logistical nightmare. However, close teamwork between Architecture +, McKee Fehl Constructors and Jasmax resolved these issues to create Waikoukou – a modern, energetic work space for Transpower.