- January 31st, 2012
- in Yachting
Contemporary Complements Within Rustic Road Town
As you step off the streets of Road Town into Commerce House, you are transported to a space with the feeling of utmost professionalism, a rival to any worldly bustling city.
Conyers Dill & Pearman, a law firm with a strong presence in the BVI, was in search of a new home for their offices. The firm had outgrown its existing location over the last few years and split into two offices within Road Town. In the summer of 2011, Conyers Dill & Pearman sought and acquired the appropriate location and completed their construction fit-out to settle into two floors of the new Commerce House.
In the early phases of design, a collaborative vision between client and designer, was established. Most importantly, the facility needed to thrive on functionality. In addition, the focus for aesthetics was one for a mix of materials to spark interest and vitality, as well as to add warmth to a sleek, tailored atmosphere.
I worked with Conyers to create an interior that would reflect the client’s vision: to create a workplace environment which heightens employee satisfaction, quality of life, interaction, and forward-thinking.
Before pen could go to paper, a great deal of time was invested analyzing and identifying the functions of the individual staff, various departments and artistic relationships. These functional aspects were important in the planning phase, as they began to shape the layout and reveal areas of flexibility for aesthetic elements.
The shell of Commerce House created challenges but also welcomed opportunity to try new materials and design solutions. The building's façade has a random scaling of windows, so glazing inserts that reflect the scale of the exterior windows were implemented to allow light to be transmitted along the perimeter into open office areas deep into the core of the building. The linear interior space is visually broken with the implementation of curved and textural walls, as well as horizontal striping in the flooring materials.
Upon entering the space, warm woods are underfoot, evoking a feeling of grounding and lending to the impression of the firm’s rich history. With a desire to consider environmentally friendly finishes, reclaimed woods were utilized on floors, millwork, and interior doors. The hues of the woods range from light gray stains—to mimic aged driftwood—to a rich, ebony chocolate.
When navigating the premises, one immediately sees an aray of colours and textures. These design elements keep the space alive.
Light originates from several sources, including of natural daylight, warm LED fixtures, millwork lightboxes, and the indirect and direct lighting. As the light filters through semi-opaque glazing and colored resin, it adds to the energy of the work environment.
Two meeting rooms conveniently located off reception are equipped with the latest technology for video conferencing, sound and lighting controls; each has it’s own unique personality. The meeting room, which is designed for fewer occupants, features a round back-painted glass table. There is a textural wall of oval shapes and this theme is repeated in oval ceiling coves which have an upward glow stemming from LED indirect lighting. Avid sailor and Conyers partner Guy Eldridge was the inspiration for the design features of the large conference room. The sailing theme is strewn subtly through the room; the ceiling is constructed of curved metal panels shaped into a lapping wave. The lighting is attached to stainless steel cables at angles across the space, much like the rigging on a boat. The lighting has the effect of a shimmering sea as it reflects off the blue granite table.
Furnishings were carefully considered for each space. The private offices are fitted out with large U-shaped desks to maximize work surface area with upper and lower storage. The desks are constructed of wood with a simple line, faced with opaque glass panels and stainless steel accents. In the cafe, a long high table can be used from a standing position or aloft tall brightly colored barstools.
Equal design attention is given to public and private spaces within the office. In an office culture that often requires high-powered attorneys to spend far more than eight hours in a workday, facility spaces need to be highly detailed. Coffee bars are centrally located in the work areas. Restrooms have full partitions made of a recycled cementitious panel, and wood stall doors are stained in a warm translucent gray. The restroom counters are fabricated of a quartz product with stone sinks, and the mirrors above are backlit creating a warm output. Open office areas are treated with sculpted wall panels that are reminiscent of natural stone in a contemporary abstract version. Curved walls are enhanced with a brilliant blue plaster texture. The final product heeded a conventionally functioning workspace,and reflect architectural features that are visually stimulating. Simple and complex elements combine for a final product both the client and the designer can be proud of.