DeMicoli & Associates was entrusted with the task of designing a brand new split-level office block for a young web development company on a narrow plot in an upcoming commercial area in Qormi, Malta.
The brief was from the company’s enthusiastic managing director who wished to make the most of a vacant space across from the company’s existing office. The project challenge was to make the most of the available space whilst pushing the boundaries of Malta’s architectural planning policies to cater for further expansion.
The commercial project is laid out across 5 floors, 3 of which have a split level to reduce the number of steps between floors. The staircase is located in the centre of the building, is free-standing and has a large skylight above to allow light to filter down to the ground floor entrance.
The modern façade is characterised by a glass curtain wall which connects the lower 3 floors and a geometrical block of white cladding which camouflages the garage entrance.
The reception is situated at road level and is housed in a vertical volume spanning the lower 3 floors. The north light from the glass façade is balanced by the light filtering through the staircase from the skylight and the south light filtering through the coloured glass partitions of the south facing offices at the back. The corporate image has not just been included with the signage but also in the interior design details, subtly in a laser cut chair rail which evokes memories of a razor blade and more boldly spanning the full height of the 3 floor reception wall.
The lighting designs including fittings and long glowing LED tubes were envisioned to emphasise the height of the volume and draw attention inwards from the road outside. They are juxtaposed semi-haphazardly, starting with the first light fitting at the façade hanging at the highest level which, like a lightning bolt, travels downwards and inwards, to the last fitting fixed to the wall at eye level just outside the lift.
The company board rooms are situated at first floor and over-look the reception from above. Flexibility was the key here; one large room transforms into two smaller ones with a sliding folding partition and a modular table which, ingeniously separates into three pieces and can be re-assembled in into two different sizes that fit perfectly in the partitioned rooms.
The office area is generally open plan with furniture dividing the spaces for the group workers and glass partitions sectioning off offices and private meeting spaces.
The palette of materials is clean and simple; white terrazo floors and off-shutter concrete ceilings. Exposed services of different colours on the ceilings and brightly coloured glass partitions give a vibrant yet quirky feel to the office space. The grey sound absorbing wall panels double up as notice boards while keeping the reverberation time in check. They are punctuated with brightly coloured stripes which match the shelving units in the circulation space that are colour coded to identify the different floors.
The managing directors’ offices sit comfortably between the reception and the boardrooms. It is half a level up from the ground floor in the heart of the action with support staff close at hand.
The break out space is situated on the top floor, enjoying the best natural light and a view; it comprises a kitchenette and a large shaded terrace.