Minimum input to maximum effect

/ Sarah Jane Storrie / Creative Workspace

We have talked a lot recently about our process on a Monday morning and our Cog have also been talking a lot about our aspiration to hone our workplace design expertise so we thought it might be fun to think about our own workspace and how it responds to our creative process. We are keen to discover what we can do to our workspace to support and cultivate that creative process, using our own workspace as a test bed for some ideas, however like many of our Clients, we don't have a huge budget for this at the moment so what can we do without having to spend lots of money? What ideas can we come up with that use minimal resource to maximum effect?

This thinking also links back to our process, getting the right people involved in a project at the right time is crucial in using our time effectively but also in creating the maximum effect we can for our Clients.

We commenced the morning reviewing and distilling the lessons from the journey of the design and delivery of the national RIBA Award winning Saunders Centre for Science and Technology at Glasgow Academy. What we were interested in was the lessons we might draw for future projects.

We were surprised to be reminded that the project started way back in 2008. The building emerged out of that broader examination of the plan and activity of the whole school. What that process determined was the sense of the volume and ability of the site to absorb the teaching requirements.

Traditionally this would have been a written brief, here it was a series of exercise briefing workshops, which asked and challenged staff and design team to examine the vision for their subject and how their new venue could enthuse students beyond the classrooms. That discussion helped defend the working passage on the building edge when the pressure on costs inevitably mounted.

On the architectural side what emerged from an external perspective was the importance of sketching that context or even tracing over pictures of that context in a bid to absorb the essence of the setting, scale, shape and detail.

The project was pre BIM so it is interesting to see how the developing design struggled to reconcile ever increasing ambition of 3D information but without the tools to do so. Looking back we see the immense advantages of the tools we have now to reconcile these components of the building.

We had a good contractural journey, the school were hundred percent committed at all levels and to an extent that attitude permeated to the contractural process. The pre-construction agreement with contractor Dunnes in which they did participate quite strongly was a good one.

The bonus for the project was our Jellybeans team who invaded the project at the end to develop with the school, a bespoke signage and graphic overlayer, which seemed to tone the building beautifully and emphasise the ambitions of the school to stimulate the excitement of studying science and technology.

At every stage different members of our team stepped in to contribute their expertise, which really highlights the value of our cross cog thinking and resources. This also applies to the way in which the Contractor was engaged at an early stage, however a sad postscript was that Dunnes the contractor recently went out of business. They had built an excellent project and it is hoped that out of that company might evolve something positive.

Following this reflection, we then went on to look at other forms of creative workspace before sharing our ideas about how our workspace might support this process and series of interactions described in the timeline to create the Saunders Centre.

We asked, what do other creative workspaces look like and why?

Fraser shared the GSA desktop study, which is a series of photographs showing the various uses of GSA standardised student desks the week before the degree show.

Andy Zahn described Auerbac’s studio and thoughts about community workplace. He identified a number of working types, from the dark room, the open space and space for the bolt of lightning inspiration, the miasma of the Buddhist and the activity of the crowd.

Ross Murray then commented on seemingly trivial workspace trends and asked what works for us?

We then continued to became more specific about ourselves and our workspace and own individual workplaces within the office, with members of the Cog sharing their own personal views of how and where they would ideally like to work. As we all move desks every six months we have different experiences and different dynamics depending on where in the office we are sitting.

Joanne Hemmings presented some of the images we have collected on the P \ P pintrest page while thinking about the re-design of the samples library and model making area and presented an image of an elegant work place by a window and expressed a need for variety from what we have.

Peter Smith reflected his perfect environment would be extreme isolation for certain tasks and suggested pods or escape work zones.

Hugo Target commented that he enjoys the interaction with new neighbours following the six monthly moves but would appreciate some sort of open, attractive storage installation.

Ross Murray reflected that he is a product of the clean lines of his desk but his ideal is a room with variety of settings.

Fraser Maitland talked about how sitting in the middle of the office forces a certain tidiness and that sitting in the Horseshoe you are more aware of what is happening around you.

Catriona MacDonald contributed that creative workspaces need to reflect how we are - first suggestion add wheels, second change surfaces. She also asked if could we do more with the courtyard - use more glass screens and colour. Floor could it be a display.

Neil Boyd talked about closed and open workspaces and suggested a rebalance to our own work spaces.

Sarah Jane Storrie shared that she is currently a bit unsettled as didn't move her things to her current space and that her workspace is void of personality and interest whereas when working at home she is surrounded by books and images that interest her but misses other people. A quick fix to improve this would be to make attempts to personalise workspace in the office.

Andy Zahn talked about the variety he needs to make models – he needs to be able to stand and crouch.

We seem to be aligned in thinking, at the moment our office is standardised however we are all individuals who prefer to work in different settings, and who carry out a variety of tasks and are constantly moving to find new ways to do things. Our workspace is important to us so we should investigate further how we can better facilitate the needs of our creative process, to create maximum effect on our architecture.