Project: Tourvest Travel Services (TTS)
Just as Tourvest Travel Services (TTS) is the go-to destination for people on the move, Inhouse Brand Architects was the company’s interior design agency of choice when it came to relocating offices. The biggest challenge in moving this busy travel hub with its staff of 166 people to its new premises, was not fitting them all – along with meeting rooms, board room, reception, kitchen and cafeteria – into the new 920 square meter space. Instead, the largest obstacle by far was the extremely tight delivery timeline.
TTS needed to move quickly: it had already given notice on its old offices, and had started paying occupational rent on its new premises in the Atlantic Centre on Cape Town’s eastern foreshore. Time was of the essence! By completing this project in barely 8 weeks, Inhouse Brand Architects accelerated TTS’s relocation with a level of professionalism and speed that is rarely matched in the local interior design industry. Says TTS Financial Manager, Kerry Sossen: “Inhouse’s creativity and inspiring design was backed up by professionalism and a highly effective project management team”!
The project was completed rapidly indeed, but this is certainly not a case where “haste makes waste”. Instead, the new office design was executed to global standards in a highly efficient manner – and on budget too! Part of TTS’s brief was to make use of the premise’s existing industrial features as far as possible in order to limit costs.
Because the Atlantic Centre had very recently been refurbished as part of an overall upgrade to the building, TTS’s space was a post-construction clean slate, with no inherited fixtures and fittings from a previous tenant. TTS took occupation of an entire floor in the building and Inhouse started with an empty white shell, consisting of exposed concrete softened by services, such as sprinklers, air-conditioning and electrical tracks. Keeping most of the ceilings exposed throughout the space, Inhouse added a fitted bulkhead in the boardroom only, primarily for acoustic reasons.
The client wanted to separate the open plan office area designated for its administrative staff and travel consultants, from the more client-facing areas such as the reception, waiting area, meeting rooms and boardrooms, keeping these less busy and more presentable. In order to achieve this distinction without losing too much valuable square meterage, Inhouse cleverly positioned a series of adjacent offices and meeting rooms as the division between the “front of house” section and the open plan work floor beyond. A long passageway connects these rooms to the staff cafeteria and the entrance/exit.
In order to avoid what would otherwise be a “dead” area, Inhouse introduced a distinctive slanted dividing wall along one flank of the passageway. Instead of the norm, which would be a straight dry wall, this angled feature is a cost-effective way of creating a striking effect. Leading off this slanted wall are entrance “porticoes” to a boardroom and meeting room.
These entrances are constructed from timber frames and are perfectly straight to create contrast with the slanted wall. “Not only does this design feature add depth to the slanted wall by emphasizing that it is set at an angle, you also need this framing detail for practical reasons so that you can fix the glass doors for the rooms”, explains Inhouse Team Leader, Moiisha Visagie.
This unusual slant on things is a motif that runs throughout the office design. For example, the couches in the waiting area carry a two-tone upholstery detail, with the two colour-blocked sections separated by a dynamic angled division. Similarly, in the informal staff recreation area, there are two intimate booths that both boast feature walls with have angled designs painted directly on to the wall behind them. Again, this is an inexpensive way to create a big visual impact. In the main staff cafeteria adjoining the kitchen, a wall-mounted decorative artwork sports a herringbone pattern that echoes parquet flooring and carries a repeated angled motif.
This large eye-catching artwork spans the length of the cafeteria and consists of wooden slats that have been left as raw wood in parts and ducco sprayed in the TTS corporate colours, teal and yellow, in others. The raw wood picks up on the natural wood used elsewhere in the office design.
For instance, the eye-catching floor-to-ceiling feature that backs the reception area is created out of slatted timber. The wood brings a warm natural element with a human aspect into the design language. Timber has been used throughout the space to link back to the first impression gained upon entering the premises. In addition to the large wooden installation in the cafeteria, there is timber detailing in the printer room and in office partitioning.
Other careful details include the Tetris-like pattern in the open plan carpeting and the bespoke industrial-style lighting in the waiting area designed by Inhouse specifically for this lounge setting – another stylish, yet inexpensive touch. It is design elements like these, combined with all the rest, that distinguish and elevate TTS’s new premises. All in all, this project demonstrates that a rapid turnkey turn-around that involves both time and space-planning pressures needn’t be devoid of flair…