Assemble redesigned their own studio in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote, which coincidentally is also the home of Assemble’s two sister companies, Fieldwork and Local Peoples.
The aim, according to Assemble’s Quino Holland, was to “…create a low-cost, flexible workspace that would be an inspiring workplace.” As a company with design at its core, we felt it was important to use our studio as a kind of three-dimensional showcase for our design capabilities and sensibility.”
One of the main (and immediately-recognisable) talking points of the architectural practices redesign is the ceiling, which has been designed as a geometric form comprising what are origami-inspired folds of timber battens.
Described as being the inverse of a traditional gabled house roof, this unique feature was partially hidden behind the remains of modern day utilities - pipes, ductwork, air-conditioning units, smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Therefore, an important part of the brief for the redesign was to conceal the mass of pipes and tubing that did nothing to enhance either the design nor the functionality of what is a vibrant workspace.
Since the studio also comprises lots of exposed concrete and glass, another major aim with the design was to improve the acoustics.
Made from 45x90mm pine studs and 20x40mm pine battens, Holland said these ceiling battens were all derived from sustainably harvested plantation pine.
Getting back to the ceiling, according to Holland, the design “grew out of a process of experimentation, folding different sculpted origami forms in paper.”
“The eventual design was composed of five triangles mirrored and repeated five times across the length of the ceiling. All the structure and battening was drawn up in detail in 3D, then built on the floor of the studio before being hoisted up onto the ceiling,” Holland said.
All the custom-built furniture in the studio is on castor wheels so it can easily be shifted and the space reconfigured for events and design workshops, while the room divider between the front door and the workspace can be taken down to become seating benches for these events.
At the same time, all the desktops in the office are finished with ‘marmoleum’, otherwise known as ‘lino’.
In terms of the walls, these were left as exposed concrete on the side and front part of the ceiling, allowing the space to benefit from the sun’s rays and the thermal mass effect.
Rounding off the redesign was a polished concrete floor slab that was been cleaned and sealed, while the back wall has been painted with what Holland dubbed as ‘Assemble Grey’ - a warm shade of grey with a hint of green/brown to offset the plants and timber.
“Overall,” said Holland. “we learnt valuable lessons – that hands-on collaboration between designers and builders is challenging but provides a more fulfilling process and outcome for all involved.”