Flexible, functional & future-proofed: a new standard for government office fitouts

No matter the industry – the modern office needs to be more than a place to complete tasks. For government organisations in particular, there’s an imperative to offer best-in-class accessibility in addition to the growing trend of creating environments that are both inviting and accommodating to the different ways in which people work. For this government agency client, the challenge was creating an office that balanced function with comfort and longevity, while adhering to strict OH&S requirements and real-world constraints. The result is an open plan workspace peppered with collaboration zones and quiet areas, designed by JMA Architects and brought to life by Schiavello.

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Access for all abilities

JMA Architects designed the fitout with careful consideration to the client’s strong focus on accessibility and the need to suit a predetermined footprint. “It was crucial to ensure all circulation spaces and communal spaces could be used by anyone with any ability,” says Architect Manager, Simon Millar. Each of the diverse spaces – including kitchens, private offices, training, meeting and carers rooms – was a complete Schiavello fit-out, made possible through extensive cross-sector experience. For example, Schiavello Wellness’ Healthcare Recliner the perfect fit for the carers room. To ensure hallways and work areas were compliant, Schiavello tailored the dimensions of several products, including Focus Quiet Phone Booths and Work Rooms, as well as the modular sofa systems, maximising access for some 500 employees across four levels.

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Adapting to evolving client needs

In adhering to the project’s precise spatial requirements, the need for a two person work room – with improved accessibility and VC capabilities – was uncovered. Existing products from the Focus Quiet Room Collection provided breakaway spaces for one person to work uninterrupted and larger meeting rooms that catered to group collaboration, but nothing in between. Schiavello saw this as an opportunity to better meet the needs of a diverse range of clients and with that, the Focus Quiet Duo Work Room was born. Featuring a central door, small table and seating on either side, the new room provides further flexibility and premium accessibility for two users, on a slimline footprint.

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Accommodating different ways of working

The project’s Interior Designer, Jana Marin, aimed to create “a functional yet comfortable work environment, a space where people actually want to come to work.” This meant considering the different ways in which people work both autonomously and within their teams. For regular day-to-day tasks, 600 Krossi Workstations – electric height adjustable and complete with monitor arms, power, data and stationery trays – were installed in an open plan environment. For informal conversations, Schiavello pedestals were tailored to feature a cushion and higher grade casters so the unit could double as a seat. For phone calls, Focus Quiet Phone Booths provide privacy for individuals. For collaboration, various rooms, pods and breakaway areas facilitate groups of two to 16.

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Fluidity into the future

To maximise longevity, it was crucial the fitout be future-proofed both functionally and aesthetically. Function-wise, Simon says the design “had to be fluid to accommodate staff shuffles, changing team sizes and future hot desking.” This was met with a smart floor plan and a suite of Schiavello furniture tailored to fit the tight constraints, yet mobile by design to allow for reconfiguration and relocation. In terms of looks, Jana says they selected “colours and pieces that were contemporary yet timeless.” With many client stakeholders to satisfy, this collaborative process, led by Schiavello’s Client Relationship Manager, Dino Kondzic, involved numerous meetings, presentations and a visit to the Schiavello showroom to arrive at a solution that ticked all boxes on performance, aesthetic and quality.

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Overcoming modern challenges

Tight timelines and long lead times proved a major hurdle for the project. “Things that used to be ordered off the shelf were suddenly taking a long time to get,” says Millar. In particular, several selected fabrics abruptly became unavailable, prompting a swift response by Schiavello and JMA Architects to source suitable replacements. “Our longstanding relationship with Schiavello means communication and problem solving is fast and easy,” says Simon, alluding to a key reason the client has engaged Schiavello for over 20 years. Another being Schiavello’s capacity to facilitate a “one-stop-shop for multi-sector fitouts, fulfilling the client’s need for just one supplier, one order and one point of contact”, Dino proudly explains.