In an age when the line between home and work life is becoming increasingly blurred, a number of firms have taken a slightly kooky approach when it comes to the design of their London offices. Adding unexpected things is almost becoming the norm.
And the new Siemens office in London very much follows this trend – half the space is taken up by a movie theatre and exhibition space!
Don’t expect to see the latest Spielberg movie, or grab any popcorn at the new Crystal office, though: it’s not a cinema, per se.
Rather, Siemens is providing an interactive way for the public to engage with the sometimes confusing principles of city management.
Kooky office design is nothing new. Breaking down the ‘work’ barrier makes it easier for office staff to work long hours, take breaks as they need to, and find inspiration away from the sometimes sterile, VDU-illuminated office environment.
Companies want to dispel the notion – or at least mitigate against it – that offices are all work and no play.
Recent examples of inspirational office design include the child-like sense of adventure that dominates Mind Candy’s office – the company behind the popular children’s toys, Moshi Monsters – and the sharp futuristic edge offered by Google’s Victoria headquarters. It’s not enough now simply to stick some desks into a big room and expect staff to slave at their keyboards for hours at a time without feeling like they have some ‘ownership’ of their day.
Opened at the end of September (2012), Siemens’ spectacular new Â£30 million London office not only follows this trend, but also adds its own unique twist.
Unlike the offices of Mind Candy and Google, Siemens’s new building is split 50/50, with half comprising new office space and the other half featuring an interactive exhibition centre – open to members of the public – that shows movies.
The building houses Siemens’ brand new Global Centre for Competence in Cities; a mouthful for anyone. Although in essence this may sound boring or lofty, Siemens is hoping that it will shape the future of modern cities around world.
With a clear environmental focus, architects Wilkinson Eyre designed the building to operate in an energy efficient manner – another design trend that many new offices in London are beginning to follow.
So what can visitors expect to see? Well, the Crystal’s exhibition centre is there to provide an educational experience first and foremost. Divided into two sections across two floors, films detailing the problems faced by modern cities – both environmental and infrastructural – are shown on a upstairs level, whilst the screens downstairs display movies presenting potential solutions to the problems.
Spectacularly shaped – a bit like a glass-clad origami crane – the Crystal contains many of the staple office features – like meeting rooms and an auditorium. Its office space is spread out over three floors positioned on the southern side. The exhibition’s floors are separated by a stunning mezzanine, and, as already mentioned, the exhibition space is dominated by interactive touchscreens that coax the interest of passers-by.
Around 150 of Siemens’ staff will make the commute to work there each day.
Located on the Royal Victoria Docks, the exhibition housed within the building is considered to be the world’s largest focused solely on urban sustainability. The exhibition centre is open to members of the public from Tuesday to Saturday.
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