Architects Ring & Associates were approached to design a fit-out for the head office of Helen King Hearing Centres. The office is located in a recently completed building, in the fashionable Kingston Foreshore development, and will function as a base for the five other clinics around Canberra. The office was required to cater for all the administration and filing, offices for staff members, assembly and adjustments to hearing aids, as well as sound booths for hearing testing.
As the main office, the design was required to mimic the corporate image and professionalism of the company and as such, inspiration for the spatial planning and colour scheme for the were both taken from the corporate logo. All joinery has been made in jarrah look timber or white to bring in warmth but still maintain a fresh and bright interior. Walls are mostly white with splashes of the corporate blue or a deep red which adds richness and is striking against the deep timber.
The narrow, rectangular shell of the tenancy, mezzanine level and rear outdoor courtyard, required sensitive spatial planning so as to maximise all functional space. As a response to the number of different functional areas required to fit into the tenancy, each square metre was utilised. In preference to solid dividing walls, glazed office partitions with frosted panelling were specified to maintain a light, spacious, ambience throughout the tenancy.
Upon entering the space, there is a corridor which leads to the sound booths and offices and through to the courtyard. The corridor is offset at an angle to create a line of sight straight through to the garden and courtyard from the entry, and then subtly picks up the angle of the pergola outside. This makes the space feel a lot larger right from the entry and takes advantage of the available outdoors area and outlook. Recessed lighting follows the corridor and introduces warm light and shadows to the fit-out. The offices and sound booths open off the angled corridor through straight doors, creating narrow blades down the hallway, painted in splashes of deep colour. The mezzanine above is divided into offices which can be utilised as the business expands or sublet to tenants. The resulting spaces are bathed in a soft light and create a pleasant working environment.
The ceiling height above the reception area have been accentuated through contrasting coloured beams, and as such counteract the shallow nature of the space. The reception counter curves at an angle to address the entry and the position and colour of the joinery open the space up. Visual barriers are used to separate the front of house from the back of house. Both floor and wall colours change, following the curve of the reception counter creating a visual segregation of space.
Ample storage spaces have been included in the fit-out which was very important to the client to keep clutter to a minimum. The staircase was reversed from the base building plans to utilise the space for bulky storage and create more restricted access to the mezzanine. This resulted in a blank wall directly in front of the entry, so a recess was created and painted in the deep red. This is an extremely simple yet effective feature which is lit up and attracts attention from the street.
The result is a complete transformation of the narrow rectangular tenancy shell. The space is contemporary, yet still feels hospitable and inviting. It is simple yet elegant and reflects the professionalism of the business.