Our clients came to us with two contradictory desires: they wanted an open space that had different rooms. We saw this as an intriguing challenge and began by asking two questions: how to do we work in an office? What would make it beautiful?
Working means going to your desk every day, performing certain tasks, being distracted, moving through space, talking to other people, eating, getting information, listening in groups, being quiet, joining unexpected conversations– the same processes every day in new ways. We find beauty in that process too– ways to see things we understand and find familiar, yet evolve and become something unexpected.
Always interested in systems, we looked to a material and spatial process that would increase this experience. In lieu of walls, we developed a mobile tube wall system that formed a variable and permeable way to designate space. The system, made of stacked and packed circular cardboard tubes, becomes an interior wrapper that indicates zones for activities, without limiting or dividing them. Formally, the tube system defines a workspace with four desk clusters of four desks, a conference room, a separate space for account managers, the entry, and a kitchen. Informally, it dips and rises where visual contact is needed or restricted; it opens and closes, where physical contact or outlets are desired or rejected; it both continuously leads you through the space and encloses areas of extra infrastructure. Special circle packing areas create specific and exaggerated views in and out of the conference area. One area of glass was also added to provide the office partners simultaneously shared and separate office spaces.
The mobile tube walls are the repetition of a common material: four inch diameter by nine inch long mailing tubes made of recycled cardboard glued together and protected with a non-toxic and non-VOC fire retardant. The system was panelized and clipped together for easy installation, replacement, cleaning, growth and adaptability. This system has become more than an architectural solution; it has become a company brand.
The tube system fits into a larger construction project that involved the demolition of a warren of deteriorating and existing walls, flooring and asbestos-containing ceiling systems. The shell was then left open and relined with new flooring, paint, mechanical, data and electrical systems as necessary.