Winner: The Barbarian Group by Clive Wilkinson Architects
Photo: Michael Moran
The Barbarian Group creates consumer experiences for the digital world, and has blazed a trail exploring how technology can invigorate and empower people through connectivity. Clive Wilkinson Architects adapted an existing 1,800 sq m office space for a flexible community of 125-175 Barbarian Group staff, recycling perimeter rooms and services into acoustically controlled spaces, while surgically clearing the central zone. A continual plywood communal table snakes through the space on the existing oak floor, rising in arches over pedestrian routes that bisect the space, creating intimate and useful spaces underneath for meetings, relaxation and storage. The top surface of this 'endless table' is a continual and seamless ethereal pearlescent white with a clear epoxy coating that emphasises the fluid nature of the structure. Pony walls support flat table areas. The grotto-like spaces underneath the 'arches' are characterised by a vigorous plywood coffer structure and can accommodate meetings of up to eight people, provide private focused and high-counter workspaces; house bookshelves, and provide other storage. After being initially drawn by hand and then molded in a physical model, the plywood supporting structure was thereafter entirely shaped by computer. A detailed computer model was constructed by the architects and analysed by the engineer, and then robotically laser-cut in sections off-site. In its final form, the table is made up of 870 unique plywood panels, providing a total of 409 sq m of table surface and 335m of perimeter edge surface, with a starting density of 1.52m per person. Like an electrical wire, the table surface itself becomes a medium for connecting and centring a community.
The judges said:
'This unlocks a whole new debate about how offices should work'
'A genuinely new and refreshing approach to working at a big table'