|The refurbishment of BVN’s Sydney Studio presented the chance to rethink what the future of the practice may look like and how the environment could push into the future; supporting new ways of working given the era of disruption the architecture and construction industry is now entering.
The response is a space designed for agency of the collective; one that explores new paradigms of working that address a need for agility, flexibility, and digital interaction, all whilst keeping it human.
Through the engagement process two key areas were identified which informed the primary objectives for the 1,800m2 Sydney Studio Space:
The first was unleashing the power of teams to drive the business – well-supported teams perform better. Studies revealed different project stages within the creative process require different setups for team size and engagement. The goal was to move from a traditionally structured workplace to one that is fully flexible, giving teams and individuals agency to self-organise based on how they want to work. All furniture is on wheels and teams select from a kit of parts to tailor their space. Teams are in control; users have agency to unplug from one cluster, roll their desk across the studio and join a new team all within a matter of minutes. The outcome is a dynamic floorplan in a continual state of change.
The second was to create a platform for experimentation and learning. Considering the pace of change it was imperative to increase exposure to new technologies, foster the development of new skills and create spaces that facilitated increase sharing and collaboration.
A new fully enclosed digital fabrication workshop was built, integration of technologies within settings was enhanced such as short throw projectors on working walls, an immersive space for multi-user virtual reality, and video conferencing throughout at various scales was introduced.
To enable this new model of agent-based working we were faced with the challenge of how to deliver high-speed data via a flexible system. Wi-fi is not enough, and traditional copper-based systems do not allow large scale flexibility – a common barrier worldwide in workplace design.
The solution was the invention of a system by which power and data is delivered from the soffit via a retractable cable fed through a pivoting arm, to service up to eight workstations. This arm, called a data boom, can reach all areas of the floor plate enabling complete flexibility when deployed across the floorplate. This solution is the first of its kind and has been patented as a new ceiling system. All cable trays were completely stripped out and replaced with a fibre optic network, which when combined with integrated addressable up-lighting improves the visual impact of clutter so common in exposed ceilings.
The studio is an incubator for innovation through continual research projects, data collection, and new ways of working.
Integrated within the project, BVN undertook a collaborative applied research project with The University of Sydney (USYD) which explored the application of robotic construction and advanced manufacturing technologies to enable further flexibility in the design process.
The research, entitled ‘Systems Reef’ deployed 3D printing and the onsite application of robotically wound carbon fibre to four data booms using one of UYSD’s industrial robotic arms. This application represented the first time this technology has been applied in an architectural context in Australia.