No one bats an eyelid at how fun Facebook or Google’s offices are anymore. It’s almost expected that game rooms and sleeping pods are part of how these firms function. But Aerocare, a leading independent ground handling company with an established presence in Australia and New Zealand, shows that you don’t have to be a tech company or creative agency to own a workspace that highlights a sense of adventure, fun and youth…and which comes with its own escape slide.
Upon getting the keys to their new Queensland home – a concrete volume of Kurv – the Aerocare team knew what had to be done to make the new feel familiar. They wanted the space and staff to be split between two floors without disconnecting the employee-client interface, while ensuring their identity and culture was proudly on show within the building. As with all successful commercial fitouts, their newly designed office had to become a part of their brand.
However, it was only with the help of a design translator – Ellivo Architects – that Aerocare’s wishes were able to shape. In fact, the design team said discovering how young many of Aerocare’s employees were was what drove them to design a space that fully harnessed the energy and enthusiasm their client displayed.
“Aerocare described themselves as youthful, energetic, engaging, proud and had never experienced a space to support that,” the architects explained.
“We saw this as the silent brief – they were not aware of what we could bring to them as we spoke about the practicalities all the while building who they were in the background while extracting more and more of their identity.”
This silent brief complemented the client’s base requests to keep the design sleek yet inviting, with warm timber accents, warm lighting and planter beds. Aerocare also wanted to incorporate a sense of play into the aesthetic, which was achieved with the help of the building fabric and its many voids to define the purpose of each space.
The resulting layout includes multiple breakout spaces and meeting rooms, a large boardroom with an origami installation and an outdoor terrace with a feature graffiti wall – features that worked to showcase the company’s passion and energy. The kitchen on the upper level takes elements from wing shapes – recalling the purpose of the company as a ground handling provider and their aeronautical links – while offering employees great views.
The stairs, along with the timber slide, are key in creating connections, although it is the slide that’s the fitout biggest feat. Used to celebrate staff wins (with the ringing of a bell at the top of the slide), the slide is the first of its kind in a Queensland fitout, and was engineered together with a boat builder and craned in through the rear courtyard. According to both the design team and the client, the energy the slide brings to the space is unparalleled and infectious.
The slide is also visible from the rear courtyard, which is steeped in branding with the full width graffiti mural
Staff and clients are brought together fluidly in a handful of shared spaces, aided by the efficiency of workstations which are key to unlocking the possibilities of various interactive areas. In this way, employees can both work and play, from the private conversation pods to the shared lounge, café and numerous outdoor terraces.
Beyond these areas, staff have use of the rooftop pool, steam room and gym, reinforcing the idea that the office is more than a space you come to work.
The material palette, harnessing the building’s concrete and blockwork surrounds and natural light, was inspired by Aerocare’s requests to highlight the existing fabric rather than cover over it. This includes redirecting the budget for plasterboard to better quality seating and areas that were either shared or very personal, such as individual work points. This approach drove the direction for the palette, with concrete, glass and aluminium balanced by timber, acoustic paneling and ceilings that ensure a ‘softness’ within the robust space.
“Much of the palette was selected to compliment the robust structure rather than hide under layers of plasterboard that require painting and maintenance. Our choice was to provide layers of softness and practicality through pin boards and the like that are all environmentally considered,” the architects explain.
“The careful detailing ensures that however harsh or soft [the materials are], all works together in harmony.”
During the specification process, emphasis was placed on quality to ensure the fittings and features would last well into the future, and be dismantled and recycled where needed. This met the developer’s wishes to hold on to the fitout in its current form beyond the Aerocare lease, which meant that although the design was largely inspired by Aerocare and has their mark in it, it also had to be flexible and timeless.
As a result, the products selected meet the highest standards, including sustainability benchmarks such as cradle to cradle life cycling wherever possible. Indoor air quality was another important factor to consider, and led to the selection of products that had very little emissions, while plants are used to improve the air quality. Meanwhile, openable doors provide ventilation and connect to the many outdoor spaces.
Although the end product seems almost effortless, Ellivo Architects say any challenges the team faced were deliberately turned into opportunities. Their number one challenge was the separation across the two floors and the physical disconnection this created. This was overcome by creating transparency between teams, providing visual connections, and maintaining the volumes and creating private spaces delicately decorated with cloud like film.
“The client’s fitout was funded through an incentive and the developer was keen to showcase his space in the best way possible with a little bit of adventure,” the project team concludes. “With developer and client on board to achieve a fantastic fitout of great quality and with some of the best tradesmen in the team this was sure to be a success.”
Sayl by Herman Miller (Innerspace)
Arras by Herman Miller (Innerspace)
BOARDROOM & MEETING TABLES
Eames Segmented Base by Herman Miller (Innerspace)
MEETING ROOM CHAIRS
I.D Trim by Antonio Citterio (Vitra)
Workbay by Unifor
Embody Work Chair by Herman Miller (Innerspace)
Stylecraft and Unifor