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When ASB set out to build a new head office in the Wynyard Quarter at Auckland’s North Wharf, they saw it as an opportunity to get the whole business working in a more agile and collaborative way. A fantastic piece of architecture in its own right, the new building is one of the first in New Zealand to have been designed around the principles of activity based working by Veldhoen + Company.
Rod Aitken, ASB’s Project Manager for the design and build, has been involved with the project since its inception in 2008. “We were looking for a new concept space for our head office,” he explains, “and we wanted to arrange the fit out to support the different ways that people work. That’s how we became aware of activity based working, which came out of the Netherlands and was leading edge in Australasia at the time.”
“At the time, there really weren’t the fit out or furniture solutions to support activity based working in the marketplace. One of our key objectives was to find contractors who could work with us through the design process to help us create really task-centric pieces.” After a detailed tender process, Vidak was engaged to create workstations, meeting rooms and collaborative furniture for the new building.
One of the biggest design challenges was creating a ‘carcass’ – an adjustable leg system that could be used throughout the building to support a variety of task centric desk and counter tops. Booths and open workstations were then designed around the same system. Ergonomic factors were critical and power and data reticulation had to be integrated across every component. It was important to get it right – and, in Rod’s words, Vidak smashed it. “They gave us a cost effective way to do that, and it was well resolved. Quite a complex design proposition too – to get a simple solution with a variety of looks and feels.”
ASB has rolled out activity based working in centres around the country. The new head office has been recognised as a trailblazer for agile working in New Zealand. “We had a strong feeling it would work,” Rod says. “And from day one we had great technology solutions, great workspace solutions, great workstations and a design that enabled us to make a seamless move.”