“To embrace change and to create an environment that employees would be proud of, Trustpower has created a workplace that demonstrates its commitment to the region, signals its business aspirations and most importantly, speaks to a belief in the value of its people.”Ralph Roberts
Warren and Mahoney worked with Trustpower at an early stage when the company was out growing its current premises and planning for growth over the next 10 to 15 years. Trustpower embarked on a transformation from a regional power company into a national multi utility company. In line with the Tauranga City Council’s aspirations to revitalise the city centre, the company wanted to move from their former headquarters on the outskirts near Tauranga Airport back into the CBD.
Trustpower also wanted to design an office which would provide a modern and flexible working environment for its now 500 plus staff, and the new 6900m² company headquarters was developed after a rigorous analysis of their workplace needs.
A team from Warren and Mahoney’s Wellington studio led by principal Ralph Roberts, project architect and associate David Giera and architect Julia Kennedy, worked with Trustpower to determine its strategic and business drivers for the future shape of the business. This was followed with site property analysis, testing up to 15 potential sites to meet strategic imperatives. To assist the client this involved simple 3D visual modelling and functional data to demonstrate how a building could work on the shortlisted sites.
Trustpower was interested in leasing rather than owning a building and the selected Durham Street site with development company Durhamside realised a 6900m² building extending over three levels in simple rectangular with a generous atrium space.
An integrated approach to developing Trustpower’s strategic and functional fitout requirements informed the base building requirements with the development team including Wingate Farquhar. Warren and Mahoney team worked with Trustpower and Dutch company, Veldhoen and Company for an Activity Based Working solution allowing a flexible, collaborative and vibrant environment for the 525 workers who have moved into the new building. The team developed key design themes around Connection and Collaboration and Energising and Fun.
This project, Ralph Roberts believes, provides a “tangible solution” for organisations promoting productivity and workplace culture and would apply across a wide range of business models operating in New Zealand cities.
There are no offices – not even for the CEO. The central interior area of the building has carved out a large atrium space, which “forms an energising heart to the building”, says Ralph Roberts, providing natural light and visual connection for staff to engage with each other between the three floors. The atrium connects people physically, with stairs and bridges across the central space. Shared meeting rooms and pods for focused work exist at the edge of the atrium, and business lockers allow staff to store business devices and personal belongings. The edges and corners of the atrium in particular provide a diverse range of work settings that promote ‘people at the edges’ connecting the workforce, fostering collaboration.
Says project architect David Giera: “The focus of the building is interaction. Because of the tools we have now – laptops and mobile phones, people don’t need to sit at fixed desks. At any given time in most companies, you’ll only find around 70% of staff are in a building at one time. This factor is key to Activity Based Working and a more efficient use of building space. We actually go to work for interaction.”
The building is also ablaze with colour. As well as neutral colours, staff were encouraged to name each floor for the purposes of “way finding.” The ground floor is Moana (the Maori name for sea) and features plenty of blues, the second floor is Ngahere meaning forest and features greens, and the top floor is Mauao (the Maori name for Mt Maunganui) and features reds and oranges to depict the sun and sunsets.
Says Ralph Roberts: “To embrace change and to create an environment that employees would be proud of, Trustpower has created a workplace that demonstrates its commitment to the region, signals its business aspirations and most importantly, speaks to a belief in the value of its people.”