Space is the Place
Mark Talbot is a Senior Associate at the design and architecture firm Hassell. Talbot spoke with Sturgeon about his creative processes and the design of the Sydney offices for international financial services firm BDO.
Sturgeon: How long have you worked in design, and what do you find most rewarding about the design process?
Mark Talbot: I’ve been in the industry for more than twenty years now. One thing I really like about working with Hassell is that we work with some great clients who have high aspirations in terms of what they want to achieve. The approach for every single project is always a clean sheet of paper. We go in there with absolutely no preconceptions or expectations, and it’s about understanding who they are and what they’re trying to achieve, and then everything grows out of that. It’s always a unique solution.
S: How did the BDO project come about?
MT: It came about at a time when the building owner was upgrading internally to make it more energy efficient, BDO were also renewing their tenancy. It turned out to be a good opportunity to consolidate the building’s spaces.
S: Were there any ‘must have’ elements in the client’s brief?
MT: No, BDO were quite open in their approach, and they wanted us to come forward with solutions. The planning of this building was a challenge. BDO’s previous space suffered from a lack of navigation around the floor. We took a lot of data from them, including ‘time utilisation’ studies on how they used their spaces, which included all of their work spaces and the client meeting rooms. It turned out that many client meetings that they hold are actually quite intimate. It became apparent that the meeting rooms they had previously were oversized and a really inefficient use of space. The resulting new design is a mix of rooms: they can hold formal and large client meetings and trainings, but the most unique addition is the pod of four small rooms disengaged from the parameter of the building.
S: Did you have to work within the broader context of BDO’s brand strategy?
MT: Only in terms of interpreting those brand values into the design. BDO (previously known as PKF) had just merged with a global brand and they wanted to align with the broader BDO values that have far reaching implication in terms of their approach to their client services.
This is what led to the ceiling feature. It’s a strong element which unifies the office. The six points in this honeycomb design symbolise the six main areas of BDO’s business.