Challenging the stereotype of a ‘government office’
This Government Agency has many offices across Canada and we were selected through a competitive process to develop a new workplace for them.
The Government of Canada has standards and mandates to accommodate their people. We worked within these standards, including their Activity Based Workplace approach. We took the opportunity to create a unique sense of place and culture for the office of 200 staff, by listening to what mattered to them as government employees.
Our challenge was to incorporate their standard criteria, while fostering a design concept that supported and celebrated the unique culture and spark of Edmontonian spirit. We sought to make the space unique to this team, while showcasing local Edmonton landmarks that united them as coworkers. The common elements developed celebrated the staff’s sense of pride, respect, and admiration for the city of Edmonton.
We worked to design a healthy workplace, shape a strong culture, attract their people to gather together again in the workplace (after years of working from home) and to embrace and empower a hybrid model of work.
Since this work was completed during the pandemic, a secondary challenge was dealing with supply chain issues throughout the design process, while also being respectful of cost.
I believe that when the team comes to work in this new space, they will feel inspired, special, and connected to the city they love and serve. This space truly supports connection and collaboration.”
Principal - Interior Design
Our workplace team conducted design workshops, assessing and inquiring about the team’s values, principles, inspirations and what drew them together as a team.
We established a variety of design drivers, including flexibility, progressive atmosphere, a consistent, equitable and fair environment, a sense of transparency, accessible technology, encouraged and enhanced collaboration, with the hopes that the space would allow the staff to be the best they could be – when in the office.
We crafted the concept to empower employees to choose how they work – through design – while bringing in all the sparks and beauty of Edmonton, to make the office their own. We explored the heartbeat of the city, defining landmarks, established destinations, and sources of cultural pride.
Inspired by Edmonton’s evolving urban landscape, the open office is flooded with natural light.
The lobby features a backlit local artist’s mural of the downtown skyline and the River Valley Bridge, linking communities to downtown Edmonton, connecting staff and guests to a sense of place.
The centre of the space is designed to emulate the city’s downtown ‘core’ – evoking an energizing, raw, solid, reflective, and edgy energy. The ‘core’ fosters connections to quadrants of the ‘city’ through adjoining ‘communities’ and neighbourhood-themed collaboration areas – each with distinct identity and character. The ‘communities’ and ‘neighbourhoods’ help create diverse and vibrant destinations that encourage relationships between people and places.
With floor to ceiling double-layered glass, the building core is surrounded by large-scale black and white photographs of the city creating a 3D effect. This is where everyone comes together with meeting areas for collaboration, presentations, and celebrations.
Surrounding the downtown core are ‘local landmark’ touchdown points, inspired by Hawrelak Park, Alberta Legislature, Muttart Nature Conservatory, Whyte Avenue, and Old Strathcona, all uniquely identifiable to Edmonton. Each area features artefacts and photographs evoking pride and community – where staff gather to chat. We selected local vendors to supply the art and photography that capture the essence of these local landmarks.
We placed their refreshment area on perimeter of the building. With plenty of light and space for gathering, it reflects a well-lit, rejuvenating, healthy community space.
The new office gives its users of the space a sense of strengthened belonging. It works to dissipate the stereotypical and often standard feeling that comes with working for a large government department. This office can support and inspire Edmonton employees to be more productive, empowered, and autonomous – choosing how they work best.
The client’s Edmonton employees are excited to come to work in this truly special place. The office sets a whole new standard for the government organization’s workplace strategies across Canada.
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