Practice makes perfect

A South Auckland legal practice celebrating its 85th anniversary gets a full makeover from Chow:Hill Architects one that puts a modern spin on tradition

View of a stairway with glass balustrade and architecture, daylighting, handrail, interior design, lobby, real estate, stairs, white
View of a stairway with glass balustrade and steel handrail inside a law firm that was designed by Chow:Hill Architects.

Conservative, imposing legal chambers are no longer seen as the best way to attract new clients. As this project illustrates, the modern legal practice is much more concerned about providing a sophisticated yet comfortable office environment.

Rice Craig Barristers & Solicitors in Papakura commissioned Chow:Hill Architects to design a new office in a 1970s building owned by the company. Architect Simon Woodall says the legal practice, which this year celebrates its 85th anniversary, had outgrown its existing premises and needed to expand.

"The company was very receptive to the idea of putting a contemporary spin on tradition," he says. "However, the partners didn't want to go over the top with a stark minimalist interior. The office needed to be sophisticated, warm and welcoming."

View of a the main board room which architecture, ceiling, conference hall, daylighting, dining room, flooring, house, interior design, real estate, room, table, wood
View of a the main board room which features timber paneling on the ceiling and was designed by Chow:Hill Architects.

To achieve such a look, Chow:Hill interior architect Frances Montero specified a simple palette of materials, including rich timber panels that reference traditional legal chambers. The solid wood panels incorporate stainless steel negative detailing, which provides a contemporary edge. A sleek white reception counter is a simple foil for a large artwork by Samoan artist Fatu Feu'u.

"In terms of the layout, we explored a number of models," says Woodall. "While an open office was required, it was important not to compromise client privacy and security. The solution was a simple layout that wraps the offices around the perimeter of the building, with service spaces and meeting rooms in the centre. This arrangement also maximises the daylight."

A former double-height volume was transformed by the addition of a new mezzanine floor to accommodate the boardroom. The original gable ceiling, with its stained-pine sarking, is a key feature of this space. Stack-bonded concrete-block walls support the stairs and enclose a fire-rated safe room.

view of the reception area with tiled flooring, furniture, interior design, product design, shelf, shelving, table, white
view of the reception area with tiled flooring, lighting and artwork.

An open kitchen in the centre of the building provides a social space it's a relaxing place where staff can come together for coffee and a catch-up, says Woodall.

Rice Craig offers a wide range of family and commercial legal services.

For more information, contact Chow:Hill Architects (Auckland), PO Box 109-169, Newmarket, Auckland 1031, phone (09) 522 6460, fax (09) 522 6461. Website: www.chowhill.co.nz.

Story by: Trendsideas

08 Jul, 2009

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