Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration

Young & Rubicam
Kuala Lumpur

Over the years, the firm has expanded in an haphazard fashion, with employees and operational units eventually working from different spaces located on several different floors. Inside each space, people were further isolated by furniture seemingly designed to hinder rather than help, spontaneous staff interactions.

Everybody was seated in a maze of workstations surrounded by very high partitions,” said Ramesh Subramaniam, Associate Director, M Moser Kuala Lumpur. “Nobody could see each other, so nobody really talked or collaborated. There was little interaction because everybody stayed in their personal silo.” 

Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section
Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section

The building, which features simple, square floor plates with a central core, is fairly old, and its mechanical and electrical systems rather antiquated. One thing we did was to refurbish the M&E to get it working correctly again,” said Subramaniam. The space’s floor also presented some difficulty, as it was not completely levelled. “We spent some time levelling it out”.

The heart of the solution would be a series of open-plan work areas radiating from either side of a large, central reception/collaboration zone. Storage walls and other enclosed ‘built-zones’ would meanwhile be accommodated unobtrusively against the building core.

Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section

In keeping with the ‘integration’ aim of the project, various break-out spaces were interspersed within the work area’s free-flowing environment. Among them is an open staff canteen that doubles as a venue for casual meetings or for taking the occasional breather. One of its most intriguing features is a wraparound bench and table in a ‘pit’, embedded like a crater in a stage-like section of raised floor.

 “The idea behind it was to create a collaboration setting that was actually quite inviting – people who see the ‘pit’ naturally want to try it out and sit there. But it’s easier to get in than it is to get out, so once you’re there, you tend to stay until the discussion is finished. It’s easier to stay and take part than it is to walk away,” said Subramaniam.

Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section
Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section
Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section

The integrative architecture in the new space isn’t restricted to the work areas, as even the experience of arriving into the office is intertwined with the message of a brand that treasures teamwork. Visitors reach the space via a corridor leading from the lift lobby to the reception, itself remoulded to give a foretaste of Y&R brand values and the pleasantly ‘off-kilter’ design of the office ahead.

We kept the corridor very simple, and even somewhat stark, but added a series of white baroque wood picture frames to the walls. The idea was to create a bit of drama, and Y&R can frame selected marketing campaign materials there too,” said Subramaniam.

Expanding and redesigning an existing space to encourage integration section
  • Status Completed
  • Area 12,000 sq-f
  • Completion date 2017
  • Location Kuala Lumpur
  • Photographer Jack Shea

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