The Street City Church

"Office heaven!" - Sarah Field, Pastor

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After several years of work to make this heritage building secure and habitable, The Street City Church was able to complete the fit-out of the first floor for their own use. (For the base building restoration, see Life Centre).

This large and growing, inner-city church had an acute shortage of office space in their existing building next door. They also needed several large, multi-purpose spaces for various ministries.

The basic brief was to accommodate these needs in a way that would be flexible in use and would cope with future growth and change. Two existing residential apartments were to be retained.

Although the initial brief called for individual offices for most staff, trial space planning quickly confirmed that this would require much more space than could be provided, even in the larger new premises. More importantly, as we unpacked how people actually work, we all came to understand that a radical change in workspace might best serve the real needs of the staff.

A courageous decision was made to commit to a fully open-plan layout, with no offices and no allocated desks.

The open plan office areas are furnished with a variety of desks, soft seating and tables, and workbenches – so that people can work wherever and however best suits them. The office areas are organised around a ‘social hub’, in the prime position overlooking Hania Street. This includes a staff kitchen and a bar leaner along the largest window – many people like to work there. This flexibility is enabled by wireless technology and lighting that can be moved. A series of small ‘quiet rooms’ along one side, provide for work that may be confidential or best done away from the plan space. (We firmly believe that any open-plan office must provide this balance).

Two existing apartments at the rear were converted into three multiuse rooms. New steel frames required for earthquake strengthening, allowed removal of structural columns to create open space.

This is a not-for-profit client, and the project was funded entirely by donations. In selecting materials and fittings, we were very conscious of the need for good stewardship of our client’s resources.

Wherever possible, materials were made to do more than one job. For example, the most economic earthquake strengthening solution required lining the exterior walls and some interior partitions in plywood. We found a product that could meet the necessary structural grading, but also used it as the wall finish.

The true cost of fittings and finishes is over their whole life cycle. We selected melamine faced plywood for all joinery, synthetic stone bench tops, and commercial grade bathroom fittings. Although there were cheaper options, these selections were made for durability and true value over the long term.

We wanted the interiors not to feel like corporate offices, but to reinforce the culture of community, collaboration and informality. The multi-coloured carpet anchors the colour scheme, balanced by white ceilings and white or plywood walls. Splashes of strong colour cued from the carpet pick out key elements such as steel bracing frames and joinery. We also ‘colour coded’ the multi-use rooms and bathrooms to aid way-finding.

The new facility is working exactly as we hoped. The success of this project is owed to a client with great vision, total commitment and unflagging enthusiasm.

Photos by Paul McCredie

Bright airy heritage building refurbishment with modern interior. Original structure exposed and celebrated against modern elements. Bright primary coloured interior with natural materials.