INdustrial edge

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Moving from the CBD to a former warehouse on the fringe of the city gave this architectural firm the opportunity to design an office interior that better suits the company's profile
JCY Architects + Urban Designers office, Perth institution, interior design, library, public library, gray
JCY Architects + Urban Designers office, Perth

In times of economic prosperity, inner-city rents can spiral, forcing businesses to rethink their tenancies. For some companies, such a situation is the incentive they need to investigate alternative premises that may be better suited to their needs.

Two years ago, trebling rents in the Perth CBD caused local architecture firm JCY to look twice at the need to be so close to the heart of the city. As a result, the company chose to relocate the business to the outskirts of town.

Director Richard Young says they looked at many office buildings closer to the inner city, but had difficulty finding an appropriate space for the company's innovative, design-oriented business.

"We wanted to distinguish ourselves from the typical accountant or mining company office," says Young. "The space needed to reflect the nature of our work."

The solution was found in a former warehouse in an undeveloped part of the city, which had been used to store gym equipment.

"We could see the potential immediately," says Young. "The building had a double-height volume and a saw-tooth roof with south-facing skylights. We could see it would make an ideal studio without the need to spend too much the proportions were good."

JCY Architects + Urban Designers office, Perth institution, interior design, library, public library, gray
JCY Architects + Urban Designers office, Perth

Young says there was never any question the office would be open plan.

"We have always had an open office environment, but this building gave us the chance to improve on what we had before."

Young says the firm's former premises comprised a front and rear office, separated by a circulation space.

"The company had grown over the past 15 years, from 20 to 50 people, and the space had evolved to accommodate everyone, but there were weeks when you would hardly see people in the other office. The new building gave us the opportunity to bring everyone together and create a much more interactive environment, which also suits the way we work."

Design associate Glenn Russell created a mezzanine level to house the architects and technical drawing staff. Administration and IT staff are on the ground floor. The lower level also accommodates the library the entire side wall, which once stored pallets, is given over to shelving, in 300mm deep alcoves. Casual lounge chairs and informal meeting tables provide alternative work spaces for staff or can be used for client meetings.

A sense of transparency is evident throughout the interior, with most of the office visible from the reception area. A large meeting room next to this area is screened by frosted-glass sliding doors, which can be opened to create a larger space for functions and client presentations. Additional informal meeting rooms are positioned along the same axis.

JCY Architects + Urban Designers office, Perth architecture, daylighting, structure, gray
JCY Architects + Urban Designers office, Perth

Motorised blinds on the high south-facing windows and adjustable louvres on the west-facing front window help control glare inside the office.

In keeping with the building's former warehouse role, the interior design retains an industrial edge. Exposed roof trusses and services, industrial mesh balustrading and the original concrete floors reflect the building's past life.

"We retained all the existing marks on the concrete to enhance the character," says Russell. "We didn't want to disguise the nature of the building, or be too precious about it. We also left the areas where we cut through the concrete to put in the new columns, but we polished the concrete to create a smooth surface."

A palette of colours associated with JCY was subtly introduced, notably green and orange. The ramp leading into the reception area features an artificial grass mat, which wraps over a low wall at the side and then flows across the floor of the visitor area.

"It's like a little bit of lawn, which adds a touch of whimsy," says Russell. "We extended the green, along with orange, down the building where the colours frame the openings to the administration area. The colours were deliberately chosen to move right away from the more predictable black and silver that seems to define many architectural practices."

Jun 29, 2010
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