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Our client is a well-regarded, and globally recognised cyber security heavyweight who recently purchased a large, new facility in the heart of the Welsh capital. Situated several floors up, the views across Cardiff are enviable, as is the situation , with excellent access to national transport links and unparalleled local amenities, making the space perfect for the flexible working so many have become accustomed to over the last few years.

Powell was presented with an exciting opportunity to completely overhaul this CAT B fit out, aided by plenty of ideas and vision from the client as to how they wanted the space to look, feel and work. In its simplest sense, the brief was to transform a near 4,000ft2 empty shell into a multi-functional, “head-turning facility, equipped with a full kitchen and sophisticated board room, as well as a large meeting room, a number of breakout spaces, and workstations. The hope was that the new office would become a hub for employees all over the country, as well as become a focal point for client meetings and collaboration.

Step 1: Design and Consultation.

During the initial consultation, Powell’s workplace consultant, Alex Thau and Contracts Manger, Nathan Jones conducted an extensive site survey confirming measurements against pre-drawn architectural plans. Once tweaked and corroborated, the Powell team sprang into action, engaging with the client and elaborating on requirements, as well as defining  with clarity  exactly what success would look like. A number of practical, mechanical and electrical considerations needed to be addressed with the client  due to their complex requirements, as is the nature of their business. Due to the expertise and diversity of experience in the Powell team, both I.T. and engineering experts were able to engage in detailed conversations in order to maximise effectiveness in these areas. From here, a joint vision of success was agreed upon, and Powell designer, Krystina Marriott, developed several space-plans and axos, helping further establish exactly how the finished space would look and feel. These plans and visual aids, as well as an array of swatches and samples are always of enormous benefit to our clients. They ensure the clearest possible understanding of how the finished space will look and work.

Alex Thau Workplace Consultant and Sales Manager:

“When implemented correctly, ergonomic design reduces discomfort for employees in the workplace, which in turn, increases productivity, wellness, and employee contentment. It’s importance really cannot be overstated, especially in the post-Covid world, where so many people now have part (or indeed full) time “work from home options.

Ensuring offices provide comfort to their staff is absolutely critical, not only to entice people back to the office, but to improve and maintain staff welfare, which we know to be in lockstep with productivity. Ergonomics is about designing a space to fit employees, rather than expecting employees to fit a space. It was very encouraging to have a client so enthusiastic about employee welfare, and open to learning more about the science of ergonomics and the psychology of workplace design.

Step 2: Construction Phase, what we did and the challenges faced  in and out.

Powell has become accustomed to working to tight deadlines, particularly over the last two years, during the Covid-crisis; as opportunities to work were slim, and situations/restrictions, changeable. An additional complication on this particular project was the multi-occupant office factor. Being a large building with many other companies still operating during our project, additional health and safety precautions were needed, such as agreed operating hours and access, clear signage and strict adherence to the project timetable. On a more social level, it was important for our client, as for ourselves, to ensure minimal disruption to other businesses operating within the same building. This required excellent communication and collaboration with a number of other organisations and individuals, the building concierge and the building management team  in order to best understand how to develop a timetable sympathetic to all.

Adhering to the agreed timeline, work began by removing all superfluous materials from the building, before running adequate power and utilities to appropriate locations. Carefully specified partition walls were erected, ensuring maximum security and privacy. The workspace was also specified with electrified, switchable glass, which allows the glass to turn from transparent to opaque at the switch of a button. Further privacy would be enjoyed in this space, as well as in the adjoining boardroom, thanks to very large black-out blinds, which span the length of the west wall  offering extensive privacy, and doubling up as an effective UV and heat stopper in the summer months, given the location and outlook of the building. The large boardroom comfortably seats twelve-people, and, as with the rest of the office, the has been populated with hi-tech televisions and sound systems, allowing maximum engagement and information transfer. Due to the size and weight of the televisions specified by the client, precautionary measures were undertaken by Powell to reinforce walls ensuring the pride of place seventy-five-inch televisions were securely fastened to the walls.

Alongside panoramic windows with views of Cardiff, the high-rise office benefits from beautiful natural light which filters through meters of glazing which surrounds the building  creating a bright and welcoming environment for all who work there. Due to the positioning of the office, seven storeys up, window openings are limited, and as such, Powell installed ceiling mounted air conditioning cassettes to keep staff comfortable all year round. A full modern kitchen, complete with luxury amenities such as wine cooler, integrated fridge and microwave stretches across the length of the back wall, finished in a modern, white gloss. To complement the existing (and remaining) carpet; while ensuring a clear, professional separation, dark grey vinyl flooring was specified and laid in the breakout spaces. The flooring was specified for its durability, eco-friendliness and ease of cleaning, as lead designer, Krystina Marriott explains:

“Just because products are durable and eco-friendly, doesn’t mean they can’t be incredibly attractive. We of course ensure that we specify products suited to our clients, but it is our duty as a responsible company to specify products which are environmentally friendly and long-lasting, as to reduce our carbon footprint and future-proof the spaces.

The client’s strong brand colours were used as an accent throughout, including to the fabrics of the soft seating area, as well as to conference chairs. We know from our own experience, as well as from multiple scientific papers and reports that sit stand desks are conducive to better working and better overall health. Our client is an employee focussed organisation, keen to maximise comfort, as well as facilitate better productivity. Just like the client, Powell is an environment-first company, aware of our obligations to the climate emergency. In everything we do at Powell, we strive to minimise our impact on the planet. Our suppliers are scrutinised for their eco credentials, and our workforce and suppliers are local wherever possible, helping us keep our CO2 from both travel and consumption down. Our main suppliers, not only on this job, but across all our works use recycled and on-wards recyclable content in the production of their products. Moreover, unwanted, old or superfluous furniture is taken from our client sites, either for re-use, or break down and recycling of component parts.

Step 3: The transformation and the client satisfaction.

The project was completed on-time and in-budget, and handover to the client was met with great enthusiasm. Employee feedback to the company has been overwhelmingly positive, and indeed, the office has become a very vibrant, positive environment to work in. The client has seen a higher-than expected presence in the office, and this new space has become the client’s most regularly visited physical office anywhere in the UK, which is a great indicator of positive feedback from the office-users. Moreover, the higher echelons of the company seem to agree, as this year, the annual sales meeting was also held at the Cardiff headquarters for the first time ever, rather than a rented venue, saving money, boosting confidence and setting the office up as a stronghold for the organisation. Our relationship with the client continues.

CGI Waterton
refurbishment | design | furniture
Darwin Gray
design | refurbishment | furniture