PwC South East Asia Consulting’s Experience Centre by Siren Design presents a dynamic interior of spatial and technological cohesion.
23 February, 2022
A black glass door slides open to grant entry to a cavernous portal illuminated with coloured tubular lights reflecting and refracting against tessellated facets of mirror. The ceiling tilts, walls slant and the metallic epoxy floor – given the treatment of multidirectional brush strokes – adds to the drama. Further ahead, curvilinear Polar loungers from Tacchini and Tom Dixon Melt pendant lights perpetuate the futuristic scenery.
This space could easily be mistaken for a nightclub. But far from that, it is the gateway to PwC South East Asia Consulting’s new Experience Centre located in Marina One. Understandably, one might have expected a more austere space from a professional services provider reputed as a business advisor. But PwC has upped the ante in our region.
The firm has been engaged in diverse fields ranging from cyber security to healthcare, and is now increasingly active in the innovation space. The unconventionality of the interior is precisely the point, says Penny Sloane, Managing Director of Siren Design – the studio engaged for the interior design.
“There was a very clear objective that the client wanted to create a space that took you from now to the future. When you walk in, it’s wow! The arrival [experience] is really to reset the brain, to change the way you think,” she says of the portal’s anomalous spectacle. It is a fitting representation of the Experience Centre’s ambitions to – in the process of complex problem solving – go beyond creating studies and surveys, to actually pilot new ideas and products for its clients. At the core of these efforts is the employment of creativity and emerging technologies.
The Experience Centre itself epitomises experimentation. The layout, for instance, is a spatial trajectory that physically traces the design-thinking loop. Clients step from the portal to a Solution Zone to participate in workshops and brainstorming sessions. Information gathered here goes to the back-of-house area across an open bar. Meeting rooms are enclaves for processing, which may result in accelerated digital or physical prototyping within the Makers’ Space. Back out in the client-facing area is the Immersion Zone – another first – where an audio-visual report replaces the conventional hours-long power-point presentation. This fluid relationship between spaces is guided by the organic plan, which is enhanced by natural light from the perimeter windows.
“The whole space is built on three-dimensional design-thinking processes. We weren’t building an ‘office’, and it wasn’t meant to be just a pretty space. It was to be predominantly about function,” remarks Dominic Stallard, the PwC South East Asia Experience Centre Leader and its Chief Creative Officer. It was crucial that the Experience Centre reflected its purpose of helping clients navigate the future of technology. And so the entry portal’s theatrics do more than impact and illuminate. Programmable colour combinations evoke desired moods or represent clients’ corporate colours, lending to visitors an immediate sense of belonging.
Security is regulated with the use of KISI – an access control system via mobile phone – which recognises the identity of staff and automatically opens doors upon approach. This, along with the presence of a digital concierge, changes the front of house, breaking down physical barriers as Stallard highlights: “I think technology works best when it’s completely transparent; you don’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket when you walk through the front door, for example.” Conventional operating procedures as we know them are literally turned on their head. Beyond labour savings, there is the freedom and productivity afforded by automation.
The Experience Centre is also high on flexibility, which is discreetly amalgamated. In the Solution Zone, magnetic and dry-erase paint on the walls allows for writing without unsightly marker stains. Tiered seating was designed to be stable yet mobile, and facilitates different permutations depending on the activity. “It’s one of those spaces whose value comes up whenever you interact with it,” says Stallard.
Where the front is dark and dramatic, the main back-of-house workspace is more light-hearted. “The back-of-house needs to be almost like a design studio. It needs to be ergonomic, collaborative and a lot brighter [as staff] spend a lot of time here,” explains Sloane. Graffiti-like murals by Singaporean artist Clogtwo splash across the white walls, injecting doses of colour. Comfort and sustainability are addressed with sensors that switch lights off when no one is around and calibrate illumination to the most ideal level to eliminate fatigue. A hybrid of height-adjustable tables, bar stools, office chairs and sofas point to the manner in which staff work. “The space amplifies how we work; it doesn’t dictate how we work,” comments Marco Maimone, the Experience Centre’s Chief Technologist.
An array of juxtapositions – the organic plan with geometric elements, tactility with high-tech integrations, darkness versus light – echoes the complex and multifaceted nature of the work done here, suggests Sloane. The Experience Centre’s interior design is the perfect advocate of its rule-breaking methodologies.
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