The new head office of the Ministry of Social Development (24000m2 NLA for 2000 staff) is one of the largest fitouts that Wellington has seen in several years.
The design is informed by 12 Key Design Principles that include the following:
- the whole building is your workspace
- a flexible open plan environment for everyone
- amenities are provided on the basis of need
- spaces are provided for a range of work types from quiet/focussed to informal discussions and collaborative work
- a consistent floor layout
- a warm and welcoming environment
The layout preserves key orienting views and an appreciation of the base-building length whilst also using unbookable enclosed spaces to define ‘neighbourhoods’ of open plan workspace. Soft fitout selections, feature lighting, and acoustic treatments support the variety of work settings. There is an interconnecting stair linking collaborative hub areas on all floors. Despite several organisational changes (during and since construction) no layout changes have been required, and unassigned desking has now been adopted on several floors.
The look and feel is based on a design ‘story’ inspired by the creation myth of Tane separating earth (Papatuanuku) and sky (Ranginui) and thus letting light into the world – this metaphor aligned very well with MSD’s purpose of helping New Zealanders to become safe, strong and independent. The legacy of this legend is the mighty ‘Lord of the Forest’ Tane Mahuta standing in Waipoua Forest. The design therefore takes its inspiration from the colours, patterns, and textures of the kauri tree. This is expressed in a number of ways including the ‘roots’ at the ceiling of the reception/welcoming area, patterns on fabric and film, ‘bark’ on the interconnecting stair, colours based on bark and leaf colours, and the tree ‘canopy’ at the top of the interconnecting stair.