Modern office spaces are combining beautiful architecture with open office culture writes FUNKE OSAE-BROWN.
On the quiet Olumegbon Street, adjoining the busy Alfred Rewane Street, Ikoyi, is situated a breath taking edifice that has come to redefine the Ikoyi skyline. One cannot help but notice the architectural masterpiece delicately placed on the 6, 000 square meters piece of land while driving on Alfred Rewane.
As I looked for a convenient place to park my car, the large black gate stares me in the face. I walked up to the gate to be screened by the security men. It took quite a while to get in. One couldn’t have expected less from a multinational company like British American Tobacco (BATN). My quest to know about new architectural designs dotting the Lagos Skylines led me into the world of an amazing discovery.
New architectural designs of office buildings are beginning to encourage open office culture. And the new BATN office did not fall short of this concept at all. Walking into the expansive courtyard took me into an ample parking space for staff. Right from the main entrance that leads to the reception, one could tell that the management of BATN has a taste for rare architecture.
On the left hand side is a mini meeting room surrounded by transparent glass just before the reception area. While there, one will have a good view of the flowers and cars neatly parked outside. It was in this room, I first met Seyi Ashade, area head, West Africa, Corporate Affairs, BATN. With the kind of space and design the new office has, I could not help but agree with Ashade when she told me: “A lot attention was paid to detail. A lot of attention was paid to building the structure. Even the car park was important to us. We want to ensure we don’t cause traffic logjam on the road. We don’t want to make life miserable for other road users.” Later, we were joined by Graham Barr, facilities manager and Andrew Davies, project manager for a tour of the new office space.
The concept of open office is gradually being incorporated into office designs in recent times. The BATN office attests to this fact. There was a time when workers are enclosed in cubicles which gave room for little or no interaction amongst staff. That concept is fast changing.
“Sometimes you can feel so isolated when you are working in an office by yourself,” Ashaye tells me. “Those kinds of things create barriers. It is good to see interactions with other people without booking an appointment to see the CEO or MD, for instance. All our marketing team now sit on the same floor. Open office culture works well for us.”
We took the elevator to the first floor. Here the culture of open office is laid bare. From the first floor, I could see clearly what goes on at the reception through the glass partition was used to separate the workspace from wall. Usually in a setting of this kind, a brick wall would have been used for the demarcation. But this designs adds beauty to the space giving it a unique architectural appeal. The designed was finished with an exquisite chandelier dangling above. In addition, each work station is fully equipped with comfortable chairs, desktops, tables with drawers. The layout kind of makes it possible for each staff to customise his space.
Nicknamed the Rising Sun, the office complex project commenced in 2011 and it took one year for the planning of the building. “The building proper started in 2013,” explains Barr. “The offices are designed in an open office culture concept. It has 11 floors. Apart from offices, there are conference rooms and meeting rooms. There is security system with CCTV.”
In addition, to make a truly modern office, Davies says there are rest rooms on every floor, which has been built to be accessible to the physically challenged. There is UPS power backup, ample parking space, sewage treatment system and water processing unit.
Barr adds that there are three main fire protection system; the facilities include big fire sprinkler tank, water reservoir and water for fire hydrant system. “There are three generators. They are industrial generators with synchronising panels; two are on standby. We take security very seriously. We have cameras and lights. We invested heavily in technology in the building to reduce energy source. We use chillers. It is a more efficient system than using spilt system.”
Also, with the building, BATN is redefining the concept of office and living space as there are residential apartments, penthouse, swimming pool and gym.