So if you haven’t heard the news — Christmas has come early for the team at Base! Our awesome Director, Shawn and our talented senior interior designer, Nat (his lovely wife) have just purchased the building next door, which we’re fitting out and making into our new Base office! For us, in many ways it’s both the easiest and the hardest project to design. As with every project there’s always so much you can do, but at the end of the day, there’s always a budget! So we thought we’d give you some insight into how we’ve been working through our own project and what is actually involved in realising a project, from rough ideas through to a physical reality.

The Brief

From the get-go, Shawn was keen to have the whole team at Base involved; and like most projects we do, ensure that every design element and space is carefully reviewed to be certain to achieve the best result. We brainstormed ideas and requirements for the new office over a couple of cold beers, with no idea too crazy (or expensive) at this point. With all ideas on the table, both a functional and conceptual brief — as well as a realistic budget — were set.

No two projects are the same, so deciding on what a project functionally requires in terms of room numbers and sizes, as well as how the spaces need to feel and perform, is a key part of the initial stages of any architectural project.

The Budget

Then there’s the ‘B’ word — Budget. Realistically, every project needs a budget! The sooner you know your budget, the sooner you can ensure you are designing within your capabilities. With the budget in mind, we were able to start finding areas where we could save, in order to spend more on the areas most important to us. So yes, at this point we did have to rule out the in-floor trampoline…

Rather than considering the budget as a constraint, we prefer to see it as an opportunity to be innovative, and challenge typical design solutions. So instead of leaning toward a typical design solution for an office, we recognised the need to design spaces specific to the efficient operation of Base. We’re a pretty unique and collaborative bunch. We sit down for lunch everyday altogether; oh and we love cake!

The Concept

With all this in mind, we started questioning the common ideas of areas such as a meeting room. The majority of meetings we carry out are informal and collaborative workshops with our clients. Many of which could take place in a more relaxed setting, such as on a lounge, rather than a small sealed room. The traditional ‘meeting room’ could then be thought of as a meeting ‘space’ — foremost a functional area to meet, but also a multipurpose zone, without walls and formed instead with loose furniture — leaving opportunities to change things up in the future.

Because most of us could keep perfecting and refining the design forever, there has to be a set deadline! The more efficient the design and construction phases, the more cost effective the project outcome. With the New Year fast approaching, and Shawn keen to get us into the new office for 2016, we had to get a move on…

Sketch Design

With the brief formulated, the existing building measured up, and a 3D computer model of the space, we could really start to imagine the fit out. A number of design workshops later, we had a plan sketched up, and an estimated cost assigned to all areas of the project. Despite having 10 over-excited architects involved — we were still aware of how big a task we were tackling and how much time and energy it would involve. So we delegated… A new project may seem daunting, but every project can be split into steps, phases or ‘packages’ of work.

Last week we held a major design workshop, where we reviewed all areas of the design in detail and scrutinized areas for cost savings and efficiency. With the concept loosely modeled in SketchUp (a 3D modelling tool we use for every project), Shawn showed us through the virtual model. This point in a project is generally pivotal for clients, as they are able to see their project take shape and three dimensional form. And we were not disappointed!

Mid November 2015

We’ve now reached the point of creating CAD drawings, which show dimensions, materials, fixed joinery and layouts of loose furniture, in order to receive reliable quotes on the cost of constructing and furnishing the space. While we can’t wait to get started on the demolition and construction, it’s really important to critically review all aspects of the design at every stage of the project, making sure the project stays within budget and time constraints, and even more importantly true to the original design objective and brief.

Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted on the Base Office progress…