Stephenson & Turner
Design Studio, Christchurch
Stephenson & Turner is a firm that encourages Engineers and Architects to work side-by-side to create their unique blend of integrated design. This quickly became the centre of our brief: to create something that encouraged our left-brain and right brain thinkers, to work together. Encouraging communication was vital, be it across the studio table or over lunch. With four offices accross New Zealand, it is important for us to feel as ‘one company’.
It is stressful working in post-earthquake Christchurch, so we wanted a relaxing environment for all. We bring clients in to our studio to be part of the design process, so no reception barriers were allowed and the office had to be kept tidy, not easy for the creatives within.
With our strong interest in healthy office design, we sought a building with excellent daylight and fresh air. It was important to avoid modern ‘spec’ offices with poorly thought through internal environments. Our chosen office was one of the few buildings still standing in central Christchurch. Being in an older building in there was a strong desire to build new heritage. The fit-out needed to complement it, working with its generous internal proportions.
In response to our brief, the design had to express our philosophies. In order to create the communication friendly workspace, existing walls were demolished to create an open studio. Desks are placed down the centre. To create a welcoming, relaxing and inspiring environment we introduced features that stimulate this atmosphere using soft textures, a muted pallet and splashes of colour. Arriving in the studio there is no reception desk, instead a soft couch and a foosball table. Meeting rooms encourage different engagement levels from formal meetings around a table through to casual meetings in our ‘lounge’ space. Overall there is a strong correlation between function and form, with each area carefully considered.
We designed the lighting system to supplement the daylight and change colour subtly over the day to complement the circadian rhythms of our team.
Stripped back features are introduced to transform the use of the space. A custom, green wall divides the office from the stairwell. The green wall’s steel-timber structure and planting echos the sustainable ethos. Arrival at the guest lounge is signalled by a dramatic felt pendant, its hood creates intimacy within the open space. Custom-made stand up benches in sunny positions create informal meeting/work spaces. Colour and material choices are simple: clean lines and monochromatic palette are offset by ply-joinery, greenery bright yellow highlights.