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COMMERCIAL OFFICES PROJECT REPORT


35


Another aspect of the design that helped reduce costs for the service team is an app guiding employees through common tech problems and replacing some of the func- tion of the IT help desk such as getting printing sorted out or getting online. The trained-up on-floor champions are the next port of call. If that fails, the team of IT specialists in Aldgate will get involved and – if things are really bad – there are more people to call in Basingstoke who will save the day!


Open to a staircase


The most striking aspect of AECOM’s office, though, is the huge, open staircase that connects four of the internal floors. This was not without its risks and chal- lenges: stickers attached to the inside of the steps caution users to hold onto the handrails and forbid using mobile phones and open coffee cups on the stairs. (The danger comes from dropping something on someone’s head far below.)


There were further health and safety issues in creating the staircase, which was challenging due to concerns about potential spread of fire. Staircases need to be contained within a volume in order to stop any spread. The normal solution would have been to have fire curtains around the


ADF APRIL 2017


staircase, but that would have prevented the openness and permeability the team was seeking. Instead, fire-rated walls are pushed back to make way for the catering facilities. The staircase and environs serve several purposes, centred on a high-spec catering function. Each floor through which the staircase flows has a different name and type of offering, including tables for sand- wiches, a full-service restaurant and kitchens. There are even rocking chairs overlooking the City.


Stubbs says that this is far better than most clients’ set-ups, with two tea points on each floor and people always ending up going to the same space. “Those 50 staff members don’t meet the other 50,” says Stubbs. “We are using design to create serendipity and improve well-being [through having to shift for caffeine]. You don’t want to push it on people, but we have had an amazing amount of positive feedback.” As if to prove his point, I see a contact of mine heading up the staircase. An unintended boon of the grand staircase is its function as an all-office meeting area, when the whole 1,000 people gathered around the staircase on several floors hear big company names address the assembled staff.


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


STAFF RETENTION AECOM’s recent 100-day review of the office revealed a “very positive” reduction in staff turnover figures


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