Kartik Punjabi, chief executive, Vijay Punjabi Consultants Pvt Ltd, highlights the importance of marrying operational efficiency with aesthetic appeal in modern office architecture
Modern offices are not only technologically advanced, but also aesthetically created to look into the future. The fine mix of aesthetics, functionality and operations is similar to juggling a few balls in the air.
Our firm forayed into corporate interiors way back in the late 1970s when open office concept was yet unknown. From the space planning perspective, we believe that clean straight lines translate into spaces with great flexibility.
Any workspace design begins with space planning which forms the skeleton of the office design. Thereon, the designs of office spaces are complemented to the look and feel.
Any office space comprises three main areas – the reception, transition spaces like corridors, and workspace (office working area). Most times, the first impression is the lasting one and most offices should make their statement at the doorstep. It is important to remember that the entire workforce and visitors move from this space, hence using maintenance-free materials is important.
Flooring in marble, granite or vitrified is essential and wooden floor is a ‘no-no’. Wall finishes, similarly, must be well defined, easy-to-maintain wooden panelling in laminate or veneer and paint finish in general avoidable.
Over the years, we have analysed the reception to be one of best suited for the water element. The sound of falling water can transform the waiting from boredom to a calming experience. From a planning perspective, we suggest creation of a couple of meeting rooms in the reception area for visitors use.
The technology of today demands access control doors at the reception thus restricting entry of outsiders. The transition spaces or corridors can be the most ignored spaces. In our perception, it is the most important space.
Corridors are attributed to high traffic movement, hence hard flooring is a given. The use of glass on corridors gives a double advantage. It deletes the visual barrier between corridor and office spaces. Secondly, it provides a clean maintenance-free material like glass which can be treated in different ways like sloping lass or a film on glass in patterns.
Another important aspect of operations is modularity of designs and simplicity of repeat elements making it easy to run the office. The other prime area of any office is the workspace area comprising workstations, cubicles and cabins. Every office generates all or most of its business needs in this space, and hence is a No Nonsense area.
A simple layout well-lit by natural light from the outside and not blocked by cabins and conference rooms can give the feeling of space. It could offer a grid ceiling in mineral fibre with a well laid out grid of light fittings flushing the work spaces with 400-odd lux lighting level.
In lessons learnt, corridors between workstations are never less than 900mm and main corridors never below 1200mm.
As simple as it sounds to create an environment to be operatively efficient, it is usually a challenge accomplished only the end of each project. With over 20 million sq ft of built spaces behind us, it is only ‘Build Functionality’ that we endorse on all our projects.