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  • Office Space and Computer Shop/Helpdesk

    The computing services (BUCS) helpdesk, shop and offices are located in our university library. BUCS are responsible for selling computing accessories and laptops to students however their primary function is to provide computing support to students. Currently they have two shuttered windows opening to the library floor however this is less than ideal as a queue tends to build up outside the offices with little space for support staff to actually sit down with students and resolve their computing problem. Their existing office area contains a procurement/admin office, a secure store, a private office, non-secure store and laptop repair areas (including desks/office space for repair staff).

    Recently BUCS have acquired additional office space adjacent to their existing office area. They plan to utilise the increased space to create a shop/waiting area that opens to the library floor and contains designated spaces for:

    - An Apple Genius Bar style discussion counter
    - A waiting area prior to appointment
    - A purpose-built sales counter and associated shop area
    - A laptop clinic; space in which a student can fix their own laptop with some support from the staff if required
    - potentially dedicated information points by which students can browse the university computing support website in order to resolve their own problems

    As the brief was initially very vague we had to spend an extended amount of time discussing it with the client to divulge their actual requirements. For this reason our proposal is currently quite undeveloped and we are very much still working towards a design solution.

    There is work currently happening on-site over Easter including the demolition of the wall between the newly acquired office space and existing office area, the replacement of the door to the newly acquired office area with a window and the installation of trunking for plug sockets across the new office space. As much as we wanted to delay all work to June/July (/until we had a complete design), BUCS and the Estates Department wanted to begin work as soon as possible. The construction period for the work minus the aforementioned tasks should start as near the start of June as possible however this is flexible; the job primarily should happen over the summer holiday (June to September).

    The budget for the job is absolutely maximum £30,000 total, with £15,000 of that being for the works being currently undertaken. We plan to minimize our costs by creating a student workshop to complete some of the construction tasks and reusing as much of the existing office furniture as possible; our part of the budget will primarily be expended on the shop/waiting area.

    We primarily want to create a space within the library that identifies it as a separate entity, clearly zoning the new shop area from the adjacent library space. That said, currently we haven't actually pushed the project further than the initial zoning/organisation of the BUCS offices to create the shop area.

    Figs 1,2,3,4 (in order) see plan below
    Attached Files
    Last edited by pmcevoy; 05-04-2012, 23:24.

  • #2
    site location within library, existing and proposed plans
    Attached Files
    Last edited by pmcevoy; 06-04-2012, 00:23.


    • #3
      Apologies for the absolute mess I've made posting this, edits are due to trying to attach things in a legible manner. Ignore the hideous wall covering on this image and the furniture; this primarily illustrates the proposed layout in 3d form.
      Attached Files
      Last edited by pmcevoy; 05-04-2012, 23:30.


      • #4
        Just briefly as it looks like you're still posting, That's a tiny budget for 'optional extras' such as timber cladding, if half of it has already been eaten up just getting the bare alterations and wiring done. I'd do what ever it takes to get the student workshops happening for the fit out, which is a great idea, but I'd urge making the workshop seriously educative and not just an adhoc 'turn up and grab a hammer' job.

        You could get lucky and have a great team turn up, but could you find a joinery department head from a local tech school willing to slot it in as a 'real pressure situation' class project dealing with reclaimed materials for instance (I am guessing you've already got the mentioned tables) Or a famous sculptor/joiner willing to run it as a quick guerilla workshop project with already skilled participants invited from all over the country to work with them. You may have to let go of some or even a lot of the design outcome (not the brief) but quality joinery is the primary concern for such a busy location and making it a real project in itself that can 'belong' to a really skilled joiners team will likely result in a beautiful job.


        • #5
          Cheers Simon; we have 51sqm of shop area and a maximum budget of £15000 giving us £294 per sqm. The tables etc were an initial idea for the competition that have since been dropped (they were actually based on a project posted on ppb We were assuming the furniture we were being given to recycle was old and naff whereas it was actually really good condition and would be put to much better use by other university departments. This is not to say that we don't want to use as many recycled materials in this project as possible.

          We want to change the floor covering and the ceiling in the shop area and retain the existing dropped ceiling tiles in the adjacent offices, moving the existing office furniture to these office spaces. We have a blank canvas so to speak for the shop/waiting area at the moment (obviously dependant on what we can achieve with the money).

          The image attached is of the newly acquired office area and the door that is currently scheduled replaced by a window. The ceiling construction and floor in this area is identical to that in the proposed shop area.

          Initially we also were planning on painting the beams and exposing them in the shop however given the amount of rewiring involved this is looking like a non-starter. Realistically we want a replacement dropped ceiling that identifies the space as different from the library (all areas have an identical dropped ceiling at the moment). We have potentially got some sponsorship from a LED manufacturing company so there is real opportunity to do something inventive with lighting within the space.

          The two white columns in the middle of the proposed shop are solely for plug sockets and internet access. We were hoping to do something a little more attractive/inventive with the electrical points/trunking that will inevitably wrap the shop.

          The floor is a concrete screed with a layer of latex on top used for carpet tiles. We were looking into poured resin, marmoleum, dalsouple or painting the screed. Marmoleum or painted screed looking the cheapest options, the painted screed allowing for the most creativity however the poured resin providing the most attractive finish (at the highest price).
          Attached Files
          Last edited by pmcevoy; 06-04-2012, 00:28.


          • #6
            Currently I think we maybe lack an over-arcing concept for the shop however I think that this could be a gimicky route to go down, becoming something of a theme rather than trying to serve the purpose of the space in the most efficient manner possible. The beauty of this project is probably in the detailing and construction of the furniture and services as opposed to decoration.

            In terms of initial precedents

            (very much for the inventive use of pallettes/standard construction materials)

            (for the fabric ceiling)
            Attached Files


            • #8


              • #9
                Few changes to the proposal, attached are 2 sets of plans, one with a genius bar style arrangement, the second with a more collaborative work station style organisation. There are obvious benefits to working both sides of the same desk when discussing laptop/IT related issues with 2 screens (a desktop PC and generally a laptop). That said, the genius bar means one does not have to talk to a technician via the reception desk. I'd be interested to hear feedback on either of the options. I feel a certain level of discomfort with the island of waiting seating in both; seems maybe an uncomfortably exposed space to wait.

                We are also proposing a sliding door on entry as opposed to a roller shutter because this will allow staff better access to the library floor when the space is closed to public whilst retaining the opening out of the space during open hours.

                Also drawn is the existing furniture that we propose is re-used in the newly acquired office area and orientated it in a roughly workable arrangement.

                The construction workshop will be attended by around 10 dedicated architecture students. We acknowledge that for this reason the standard of product and finish may be less than high quality. We are therefore proposing to construct furniture from a set of standard modules that are then fixed to a professionally fabricated frame. There's something in the parody of the high-tech here; in the future-proofing and flexibility of these demountable boxes (see maybe Kisho Kurokawa's Capsule Tower). These modules will become both storage units and display storage for the retail wall. Attached is a concept visual of this modular furniture (shop counter and retail wall); we liked the contrast between the loose arrangement of boxes and the clean worktop surface; given the structural frame of the furniture is proposed as steel, we were considering an in-situ cast concrete worktop. Again, something that we could potentially achieve in the workshop environment.

                The (what can be very loosely described as a) construction drawing below gives an impression of the idea of an assembled module fixed to a steel frame however we are now looking to use manufactured boards and biscuit joints with a solid back for bracing, rather than the illustrated planed timber.

                EDIT - dwgs scaled up to make them a little more legible (the small font is spec. pdfs of full dwgs are on following post)
                Attached Files
                Last edited by pmcevoy; 04-05-2012, 12:21.


                • #10
                  pdfs attached
                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by pmcevoy; 04-05-2012, 12:22.


                  • #11
                    Drawings are really hard to read but the design is clear from your sketch-up model. Nice stuff.

                    reminds me of kitchen by

                    We also did something similar at Heatherwick studio but with galvanised boxes made up by an air conditioning manufacturer

                    Attached Files


                    • #12
                      We decided that it would be best if we attempted to construct everything we possibly could within the workshop environment - there were a number of reasons for this decision;

                      - Budget - free labour

                      - Educational value - this meant that we greater explored the limitations of a number of methods of construction - this was what the workshop was about after all. We needed the construction processes to be varied to encourage people to participate. Professional labour seemed something of a conceptual cop-out.

                      - Aesthetic justification; we knew that the constraints of our fabricating the furniture would contribute to the look of the space - this refined our brief and encouraged more innovative and simple solutions to problems. There was no aesthetic style demanded by the client, we felt that interior design could also become gimmicky decoration and this abstract representation lacked a coherent concept or, ‘big idea’. Our response was that this unique construction process was to define the look of the finished product.
                      A good example of this principal in the fusion between function, aesthetic and construction process was the initial decision for demountable modules - these allowed reorganised or replacement in the event of a change in stock; particularly relevant in a rapidly evolving IT environment. We knew we had to suit the clients requirements now whilst allowing for the unpredictable and fast developments of IT requirements in the future.
                      As aforementioned, principally this was based on the in-built flexibility of ‘high-tech’ projects such as The Lloyds Building or Capsule House. The second reason for demountable modules was that in manufacturing modules we could standardise construction processes and thereby simplify and accelerate construction for those involved in the workshop.

                      - Paranoia - despite winning the competition to redesign the space we felt that unless we made a significant committment to the project and guaranteed that a certain portion of the work was completed there was always potential that BUCS, and especially the estates dept. would lose confidence in our ability to produce a functioning design. We knew it was a big CV project and also that we might not get an opportunity to undertake a physical project independently for some time.

                      The design work, planning and organisation of the space were our responsibility throughout however time constraints, discussions with The Estates Dept. and building regulations meant that the partition detailing and entrance doors were out of question. The decision was made that we were to fabricate the furniture for the space and alterations such as the replacement of the floor surface, construction of the doors and the knocking out of the partition were to be left to the professionals. The proposed plan had already minimized heavy alterations to the existing building which certainly suited our workshop.
                      The overall target cost for our portion of the work was £6,000 (although £10,000 set aside) + an £800 project fund grant to fund the design development and research side of the project.
                      Last edited by pmcevoy; 22-08-2012, 21:26.


                      • #13
                        I think the proposed and existing plans are well covered in the above post however here are the final existing and then proposed plans that we issued to The Estates Dept. Attachment

                        Basically the counters are backed by display shelves and a central shelf with some waiting seating is provided to partition the space; the retail shelf was to contain shop stock, the service desk shelf was for flexible storage (leaflets etc.) and the central display shelf was for an array of historic IT equipment that the department had accumulated - a sort of IT museum.



                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by pmcevoy; 22-08-2012, 22:17.


                        • #14
                          Two stop motion videos from the early stages of the project:


                          • #15