The core of the Spark brief required a strongly collaborative and interconnected working environment that was capable of supporting close communication and the associated business efficiencies associated with business units collocating within a single site.
The Spark headquarters project represented a new level of connection and commitment by New Zealand’s premier telecommunications to its clients. Warren and Mahoney, in association with Geyer, Australia, was engaged to carry out two correlated interior design projects – 28,000m2 in Auckland premises and 19,000m2 in Wellington – both designed to represent a unified brand and the diverse workforce of one of New Zealand’s largest and most diversified public companies. The core of the Spark brief required a strongly collaborative and interconnected working environment that was capable of supporting close communication and the associated business efficiencies associated with business units collocating within a single site.
The Warren and Mahoney / Geyer team was engaged firstly to assist Spark and its premises advisors, Wareham and Cameron, to select the optimum locations in both Auckland and Wellington from buildings offered in an open market invitation to developers. In Auckland, Victoria Square was selected from a number of viable contenders and several key modifications were suggested by the team in order to fulfil Spark's business objectives. The most important of these was the decision to transform the developer’s initial offering (of four separate buildings on a single site) into an atrium building which covered the space between building blocks, thereby creating a generous public atrium (base build architects - Architectus). This decision opened the way for a completely unified headquarters complex.
A variety of studies to optimise the effectiveness of business unit adjacency patterns were then carried out to model the most effective ‘stacking and blocking’ for Spark’s tenancy. Particular attention was paid to the realities of constant change and within large and fluid organisations, resulting in the clustering of ‘built’ (meeting, kitchen and break out) and ‘un-built’ (work point areas) so that changes in team working patterns could be readily achieved without the need to reconfigure walls, ceilings and services. This drove the built elements inwards to the edges of the atrium, creating a sound and visual buffer to the working areas, which in turn were positioned in the A grade space around the exterior. The break out spaces are positioned on the corners of the atrium inner edges, allowing an integration with the hum of the public space below.
Spark also required a strongly ‘New Zealand’ identity. Four characteristic identities reflected intrinsic Spark Brand ideals. This was made possible by the early decision to group all of Spark’s formal and secure meeting functions on the ground (entry) level, thereby allowing a much looser arrangement of space on the upper working floors. As an essential part of the innately New Zealand brand, a very restricted and tactile palette of materials has been selected for the interior environment. Basalt stone tiles are used on the main entry floors, natural timber battens utilised on break-out area ceilings and vertical coloured glass used to frame the main arrival lounge areas.