Spatial organisation and a stripped back ergonomic efficiency underpin new office design

With a bold fit-out that promotes flexibility, collaboration and productivity, Z Energy’s new workplace also emphasises transparency and a friendly work environment

Curved architectural insertions in the Z Energy office ceiling, floor, interior design, lobby, office, gray
Curved architectural insertions in the Z Energy office call to mind the sweeping lines of a streamlined motor vehicle and define the flow of the space.

If a commercial fit-out is a design statement of company philosophy, then the new Z Energy office reflects the go-ahead energy company’s sense of heart and community in several ways.

When Z Energy bought out competitor Caltex, it also leased the whole floor that had been partially occupied by Caltex in a contemporary city fringe building. The move was essentially an integration, with the existing Caltex staff working alongside Z Energy staff, sharing the same flexible work and meeting spaces. After all, the fit-out project was called kotahitanga – or oneness.

Right from stepping out of the lifts into the third level office, staff, clients and visitors alike have an impression of flowing spatial organisation and a stripped back ergonomic efficiency, says designer Chantal Gaiqui of Stack Interiors.

“Curvaceous forms – including the Z Energy reception pod with meeting rooms behind and a two-conference room pod – delineate the curving passageways flowing to the outer workstation areas and individual break-away spaces.

”In a fit-out that’s all about inclusion and the New Zealand way, the semi-transparent blue-tinted glass conference rooms have empowering words in Maori and English on them in a slanting format, referencing the slope of a marae roof." 

The words splashed across these spaces include wharenui (meeting house), kotahitanga and everyone is welcome.

Also defining the pedestrian flow in the arrival area is another large, equally curvaceous, dark-stained pod. This element has a bar at one end, a barista operating at the other and a third, long side of the pod has a cafe servery. 

The cafe opens to a broad seating area called the ‘deck’, a timber-floored space intended to evoke New Zealanders’ love of decks and barbecues. Portable barbecues are brought out for classic Friday evening staff gatherings in this area. The space is highly flexible – with tables and chairs moved away, it provides a spacious town hall area for meetings and other gatherings of up to 300. 

In fact, there is a limited built environment in the office, with many stations able to be reconfigured to suit work flow or a wide variety of other tasks. The sleek, curving lines of the pods and passages call to mind the rounded forms of a swift automobile but there is another prominent reference to cars, too.

“There’s a workshop/display space called The Refinery at one end of the office,” says Gaiqui. 

“This has stacked garage doors and large suspended whiteboards that can be rolled out on tracks as required. It also includes touches like caged lights, while the concrete floor and exposed services seen through the wider office add to the garage feel here.

”Z Energy’s purple and orange brand colours also feature throughout, including on another playful, curvaceous element. This pod has a transparent meeting booth on one side and a bright orange-lined water station with comfy chairs on the other. Gaiqui says the water station helps keep staff hydrated, while its limited beverage options encourage them to go further afield to the cafe or barista station for coffee, promoting fitness and sociability. 

Hard to miss in the new Z Energy architecture, ceiling, glass, institution, interior design, office, gray
Hard to miss in the new Z Energy office fit-out, the Rehydration Station, or ‘The Peach’, is emblazoned with one of Z’s two trademark vibrant colours.

This vibrant feature is aptly named The Peach, for both its colour and thirst-quenching functionality. And this is the other theme that runs big through the office – Z Energy cares greatly for its staff and the fit-out underpins that. As well as the hydration station, there’s a wellness room, a quiet meeting room, and even a rejuvenation space with soft carpets, cushions and mood lighting. 

“Plus, both the primary grouped workstation area and the secondary desking area, at the other end of the building, are positioned by windows, optimising natural light on workstation desks and views out for all staff. Everywhere you look there are different custom meeting breakout spots.” 

The Z Energy office fit-out by Stack Interiors architecture, ceiling, daylighting, furniture, interior design, office, real estate, table, white, gray
The Z Energy office fit-out by Stack Interiors makes the most of the building’s views with casual seating areas and workstations positioned by the windows.

The attention to staff health and well-being not only looks after the company’s primary asset, it also acts as a calling card for future prospective staff who care about a healthy work environment. 

“Of course, it’s logical that an energy company will care about sustainability and the Z Energy office fit-out also reflects that,” says the designer. 

“We reused tables, chairs and sofas from previous offices where possible, and the existing concrete floors were stripped back and polished.“Also part of the sustainable focus, the carpet that’s featured extensively throughout the fit-out is created from recycled fishing nets.

”And then there’s Z Energy’s strong drive for transparency with staff, customers and in business generally. This is referenced with everything from the exposed services and see-through, front-of-house meeting rooms, to the open cafe environment used by visitors and staff alike. 

“The final result is a series of spaces that all staff love to work in, designed for a diverse range of activities from quiet, focused individual work through to collaborative and social spaces,” Gaiqui says.

Credit list

Z Energy office, Auckland
Construction company
Mechanical and electrical engineer
Thurston Consulting
Fire consultant
Garage doors
Glidaway,Rolflex compact doors
Various, from Tilespace
Ceiling panels
Acoustic baffle beams by Asona; Acoustic Rigitone by Astral from Potters
Prime Laminate in Burnished Black from Prime Panels
High-gloss panels
Sage from Acrygloss
Various from Lightplan
Office chairs
Additional furniture
Juno stacking chair from UFL; custom booths from Smartspace; trestle tables from Cite
AR Plus Formica
Interior design
Stack Interiors; design team – David Plaistowe, Chantal Gaiqui
Structural engineer
Quantity surveyor
Operable walls
Variflex Solid 100 by Dorma
Thermoblock from SP Blinds
Armstrong Decoclick Timberplank from Floorspace; Net Effect carpet tile from Inzide; Hilton carpet by Irvine; Gem porcelain tiles from Tilespace; concrete
Etch and Vertiface wall fabrics from Autex
Feature surface
Reclaimed macrocarpa with Woca stain
Smart Space, Sit/Stand, Rubix
Reception furniture
Simon James coffee tables; reused couches
Kitchen equipment
Rational Self-cooking centre; Skope refrigeration; Starline dishwasher; Mico basins and taps

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Rebecca Swan

31 May, 2018

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