Novartis has teams of highly talented people spread across multiple locations. They wanted to bring them together into one place, a place where collaboration is not only encouraged, but where it is built into the very fabric of the building. Novartis wanted to provide a campus-style building that not only reflected its mission as a company, but that created an ideal working environment, one that allowed each person to work as they choose, to perform to the best of their ability. HDR | Rice Daubney worked closely with Novartis to bring these ideas to life.
The company has a culture of scientific precision and professionalism balanced and fuelled by people-centric concepts of collaboration and teamwork for the greater good. The design focused on these two ideas and their interaction. The scientific finds its expression in the form of the main office floor plates as a simple slender rectangle. This form is then intersected by a very different language of curved forms that shape the core and the spaces at the heart of the building from top to bottom. Within these more human zones vertical movement through the use of 4 glass lifts and a series of relaxed stairs encourages communication and transparency between employees.
Aiming to enhance their position as an employer of choice, HDR Rice Daubney worked with Novartis to develop a framework that allowed both choice & flexibility. There is no assigned seating. Instead, where you sit depends on what you are doing. There are team spaces for collaboration and group work towards the centre of the building. As you move away, there are quiet spaces, screened off, for those who want privacy or peace for a project. If you fancy working in the sun, you might sit on the roof, or in one of the garden areas where you might come across a colleague working, having a break or a snack. Should you want natural light, but filtered, take a seat by a window and adjust the blinds to your preference.
The design revolves around a central space that creates a series of interaction opportunities and promotes communication between levels, departments, business's and associates. In taking the stairs, you pass the collaboration zones at the centre of each floor, you pass the lifts and the kitchen. Along your journey, you see others, bump into colleagues, and start conversations that might not otherwise have happened. There is emphasis, through open spaces with multiple uses, on increasing interaction both within businesses and between different divisions to aid in the development of the company's culture of collaboration and innovation.
It was important to Novartis to be seen as transparent. This was interpreted through the glass selection throughout the building that allows light to flow in, and people to look out and feel connected to nature. The central atrium faces south west and is shielded by the amenities core allowing the hearty of the building to connect directly to the landscape beyond through a soaring 6 storey wall of glass.
The project is unusual because the company who will use the office commissioned it, so it has been tailored to them inside and out. The external details are carried through to the interior - with curves and materials mirroring each other. Additionally, HDR Rice Daubney persuaded Novartis to do away with the usual lowered ceiling to hide services. Instead the ceilings soar, unencumbered to the concrete beams above, allowing a clear and transparent view of services, and an honest look at the fabric of the building. This has created an openness and modernity that is both appealing and refreshing.
Asked what they are most proud of, and HDR Rice Daubney answer that it is the potential for cultural uplift that is best typified by the use of the central Atrium, that rises through the building. As the curved timber-clad stairs wind from floor to floor, overlooking the atrium, people meet, conversations start, projects leap forward. There is a sociability and interaction generated in the atrium that met the client's brief thoroughly, whilst also creating a stunning piece of architecture.