ARIDO Award Winner: Smart City Sandbox

The Sandbox was a result of firm-wide technology pivot that focused on developing new technology platforms to embrace the creation of the Smart City of the Future. This transformation required a rethink from a traditional design services provider into that of a lifecycle partner role (for both urban and built environments). The Sandbox’s primary purpose was to provide a community platform for like-minded technology start-ups to inspire disruptive thinking and develop new ideas that would potentially benefit all involved. The concept was to create a transformational environment in which to inspire innovation and create enhanced collaboration between both industry partners and internal users.

Category: WORK

Interior Designer: Jane Juranek, ARIDO
Design Firm: IBI Group Architects (Canada) Inc.
Design Team: Michelle Haber, ARIDO; Mahsa Saeedi, ARIDO; Katie McCann, Intern ARIDO; Shana Davies, Intern ARIDO

Photographer: Ben Rahn – A-Frame Inc.

The “Phygital” shift into an immersive environment initiates with the LED entry portal and then envelops the senses into a unique black box experience. This shift provides an inspirational lens on how the user will view, and ultimately create, tools and experiences of their own. Digital equity is afforded to all participants (whether physical or remote) with the spaces agnostic design sensibility and digital twin capabilities.

The black box effect saturates all surfaces throughout by creating a dramatic backdrop for both the occupant and technology, contrasted by colour saturated “little boxes” (floating rooms), that provide both individual and group work settings. Implied courtyards between these boxes form virtual rooms out of negative space to demonstrate and test new technologies along with exploring new AR/VR environments under development throughout the space.

The Sandbox was inspired by a start-up philosophy, with goals to provide flexibility and scalability for a full-service destination unlike any other. The space consists of 3 different zones; a central communal hub, a visualization production area, and a bespoke meeting zone.

The communal hub is entirely fluid and can be used for events, guest speakers, charettes, presentations, and impromptu staff touch down as well as a co-working touch down for partners to utilize for focus work and collaboration. A variety of settings support multiple postures from respite to teamwork and are all completely technology-enabled with mobile presentation screens. The visualization development area supports AR/VR technology production, demos, and client experiences. Individual “little boxes” link the spaces and provide an inspirational reprieve for meetings or simply acoustic separation. Whether incubating a start-up partner or internal teams, the Sandbox supports all workstyles and needs in a quickly scalable design for as few as 30 core staff or as many as 200 while hosting a Community Event depending on the function.

While the groundwork to cultivate the next generation of smart buildings and infrastructure in cities is still being laid, tangible results are starting to be realized that can be quantified and further built upon. Successful technologies and building life cycle tools are being both launched into the market and incorporated into ongoing Client initiatives. The firm’s Intelligence sector’s growth has greatly benefited through an increase in collaboration with other Practice Sectors and ultimately a significant increase in market share for the Firm. The ultimate goal will be to have the Sandbox support an eco system for urban innovation. Virtual events have continued to be hosted via the Sandboxes digital twin environment successfully throughout the recent pandemic.

Other practical accomplishments also include the spaces ability to function as a Living Test Lab for new technology platforms, for which the Sandbox is developing IoT enabled programs to collect data, leverage its application and ultimately apply these learnings back into tangible value for clients whether it be a real estate decision or a user experience. The Sandbox has also created a Digital Twin of the environment which demonstrates the firm’s extensive toolbox including how we can work to inform and assist in managing the life cycle of a facility from the end-user perspective. Sensors throughout the space assist in a more bespoke behavioural user engagement of the space as well as provide extremely valuable data analytics on issues such as space utilization and effective use of environmental controls.

Another one of the Sandbox’s key tenets is to also help support the need for a climate positive approach to our urban environment. Some of the likeminded co-collaborators in this pursuit include Ontario Power Generation, The Weather Network and the Ontario Centre for Excellence all striving for a more sustainable future.

A “build it and they will come” philosophy/strategy was undertaken in terms of developing something unique within the architecture and design industry and having ultimate flexibility in its programmatic execution. The Sandbox looks to transport users into an immersive environment, starting with a shift in one’s mindset as they pass through the LED entry portal. This threshold establishes an entirely different lens on how the user will view, and ultimately create, unique ideas of their own.

The Sandbox was designed to embody the core values of the Corporation – Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging.
Diversity as a defining feature includes the firm’s identity, legacy, and future. These three components are key drivers that helped embody the development of new type community space where all would be welcomed and feel like equals.

The creation of an equitable, inclusive and accessible environment were part of the initial guiding principles of design undertaken from the outset of the Project. Hierarchy, formality, and structure were avoided in order to create design equity throughout all spaces.

Another key consideration was to create an inclusive culture based on merit and free of conscious or unconscious bias; a culture where everyone is encouraged to be themselves and achieve a sense of belonging.

Another one of the Sandbox’s key tenets/outcomes is to also help support the need for a climate-positive approach to our urban environment. Some of the like-minded co-collaborators in this pursuit include Ontario Power Generation, The Weather Network, and the Ontario Centre for Excellence all striving for a more sustainable future. They all share a common goal in developing a more sustainable future for us to inhabit in the built urban environment.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: November 2019
Project Square Footage: 6,482

ARIDO Award Winner: Uber Canada Headquarters

Inspired by the theme of movement, both literally and figuratively, the interior design for the new corporate headquarters of Uber Canada evokes a sense of forward momentum. The elements of rhythm, repetition, bold lines, and contrasting details converge to reflect both Uber’s global growth and trajectory as a world-leading technology enterprise, and its drive to get people where they want to go.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Peter Heys, ARIDO; Leslie Tuttle, ARIDO
Design Firm: B+H
Design Team: David Zhou, ARIDO; Marianna Ng, ARIDO; Inga Kantor, ARIDO; Abi Kim, Intern, ARIDO

Photographer: Doublespace Photography

In 2018, Uber sought to create a cutting-edge workspace for their new Canadian head office, located on the top five floors of a downtown Toronto office tower. Concurrently, the company was in the process of revitalizing their branding guidelines which included the development of a new ‘Playbook’ that outlined Uber’s general workplace requirements, including accessibility standards.

This blank canvas provided the opportunity to envision a new type of workplace for Uber, one that would align with the company’s refreshed brand, vision, and values, facilitate a seamless transition its staff to working in a larger, multi-floor office space, and enhance the elements stipulated in Uber’s playbook.

A key component was a robust environmental graphic design (EGD) strategy. Inspired by Uber’s culture, the interior design team selected five key values as inspiration for the space: connect, explore, surprise, play, and pause. With those values as a jumping-off point, the interior design team assigned associated colours and developed a visual language – with each level of the five floors occupied by Uber uniquely reflecting one of the values.

The majority of the EGD program takes advantage of natural places of connection: common areas, corridors, the library, the cafe, gaming spaces, etc. A key part of our design strategy was to infuse the vibrant culture of the city as an additional layer of conceptual richness. On one floor we installed a custom-illustrated wall covering that celebrates Toronto’s popular Kensington Market neighbourhood. Another celebrates the famed Distillery District.

When connection was not the primary driver, we focused on improving user experience. In dark, narrow corridors we strategically placed a vibrant, textured wall covered with bright, hand-lettered, neon LED typography to transform a dim, transient space into a playful, engaging portal.

Uber’s offices encompass floors 12-17, yet reception is smack in the middle on the 16th floor, which had the potential to confuse first time visitors. When a visitor steps off the elevator on the 16th floor, a motion sensor catches their movement and triggers multi-stage lighting, which guides them to the reception desk. This reassures any new visitor that they are in the right place.

Not only is the lighting an efficient wayfinding tool, this installation can be programmed for special events and observances, which could include Pride Month, Indigenous Heritage Month, Black History Month, etc.

The design also features a multipurpose wellness room, envisioned to be used by Uber employees for a broad range of wellness-oriented activities which may include exercise/yoga classes or individual sessions, meditation, prayer, or simply as an area to rest and recharge. The design also incorporates a mother’s nursing room, providing Uber staff with a private, comfortable, and dignified setting for nursing mothers.

Biophilic strategies and elements are woven throughout the design to imbue the office with a sense of connection to nature and greenery – highlighting the project’s unique proximity to Toronto’s picturesque Don Valley. Various plant species were incorporated throughout the office floors through the custom shelving as well as through terrace plantings which are visible from the office interiors.

Folding partition systems embed flexibility into the space, allowing for specific rooms to be opened to adjacent space for enlarged team meetings and events, or closed for privacy as required. Writeable surfaces within the walls so that natural light and function is present. This wall is also able to incorporate technology including power, sound and display directly into the folding wall, should this be a consideration for Uber in the future.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: August 2019
Project Square Footage: 80, 000 square feet

Connectivity, evolution of radio and employee engagement informed the design of this radio floor

With radio and communications innovation being a foundational characteristic of their company, the client continued to think outside the box when relocating their radio studios to the second floor of their Bloor Street location. The space bridges the gap between two campus buildings and combines three functions: radio studios, workspace and an employee cafe.

Open employee cafeteria space with pale wood floors and a accent wall with company history.

Interior Designer: Laura Jones, ARIDO
Design Team: Adriana Pietropaolo, ARIDO; Sharon Turner, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Project Photographer: Tom Arban, Karl Hiplolito

The design team created an isolated raised floor system that protects against vibrations from the TTC route located below, and exterior wall and window treatments mute day-to-day sounds of the surrounding urban environment. Two high-tech radio studios are positioned as focal points in the space, inspiring interaction while still providing necessary privacy for radio talent with tinted windows. The adjacent agile workspace is designed to support a 24-hour work day for employees.

The cafe space is designed as a connecting boulevard with the café on one side, and the studios on the other, continuously inviting and engaging its users. With an acoustic operable wall, the centre performance lounge lends itself to performances that can be broadcast via the studios or opened to the cafe for a public performance. Neutral, fresh and contemporary architectural finishes were selected to accentuate the public-facing radio studios and additional acoustic elements were incorporated into this vibrant space.

The new staircase connects the ground floor to the second floor, something the client requested specifically, enhancing and facilitating the user experience through the space while engaging them with a display of the company’s radio artifacts. The three spaces are tied together by repeating angular elements inspired by radio waves and the use of copper accents that recall radio batteries.

The space is used throughout the day for planned and spontaneous meetings and the renovation of the studios has provided one of the most technologically advanced radio spaces in Canada. In fulfilling the client’s needs, the designers created a lively, dynamic space that has quickly become the most popular spot on campus.

ARIDO Award Winner: Spin Master (7th Floor)

As a business unit within a large Canadian toy company, the client wanted a space to attract top talent and convey refined talent of the artists, writers, actors, and producers that their business employs. The design strategy consisted of using a co-create process to evolve the design in an iterative manner, ensuring team diversity, input equity, and an inclusive approach to all stakeholders regardless of rank and file.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Annie Bergeron, ARIDO; Jessica Baird, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gensler
Design Team: Filo Costa, ARIDO; Nichola Chan, ARIDO; Sarah Taylor, Intern ARIDO

Photographer: Ben Rahn

Weekly brainstorm sessions between the client and design teams let everyone involved have a voice in the process ensuring their brand and work to shine.

The new space unfolds like a story narrative – reflecting the work processes of the end-user. An Art Deco inspired wood trimmed lobby, entry marquee, burgundy “red” carpet, and gold vitrine decal signage hint that creatives live here. Going from dark to light through space, the art studio itself is flooded with daylight and accented with soft finishes: the artwork pops and remains centre stage. X’s and O’s lighting harken back to simple childhood games and offer a reminder of the studio’s target audience.

The design team leveraged our world-class research and data gathering tools (vision session, surveys, and interviews), to identify the right ratio of work settings. A thoughtful mix of meeting spaces – varying sizes, casual to formal, enclosed to semi-private to open, stand-up or sit-down – combined with individual work settings ensure individuals can get down to work. Common areas strategically placed directly off reception and away from focused work allow for uproarious laughter and casual collaboration.

Every part of the office design provides the tools needed to collaborate across disciplines: digital technology, whiteboards, blackboards, pin-up space, inspirational content library (like books, magazines, and toys), blank canvases, gallery walls, brainstorm and audio production studios, and p-board storage.

The production studio for voice talent was a key component that needed to be placed strategically and noisy base building systems were re-routed to ensure sound quality. The design team engaged audio acoustic specialists to deliver this component.

Open ceilings were strategically located to help conceal the Class B building air distribution system revealing a flawless open effect. Exposed columns we kept clear of visually distracting services distribution. Staggered tendering, pre-ordering, and strategic reuse were used to meet the budget and even tighter schedule.

Appropriate separation between heads-down focus work and collaborative work ensures the employees’ productive capital can be maximized, along with their enjoyment of the space. The entry sequence progresses from active zones, transitioning into the quieter design studios where creative concentrated work occurs.

Staff have many options when they want to engage with others, and an on-floor café provides ample opportunity for impromptu conversations. The children’s book library offers creators an area to disconnect from the digital world and get inspired by illustrated adventures. Digital content is also available through the space for visitors to preview new animated shows – and old classics – when the need to be transported away to another world strikes.

The space meets LEED Certified standards wellness was carefully considered, with access to daylight, quiet reflection spaces, and the inclusion of a lush plant program that was the top employee-requested feature. Greenery throughout provides a soft biophilic element.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: July 2019
Project Square Footage: 19,605 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: OPG Workplace Transformation

In 2017 Ontario Power Generation created their new One OPG mandate of refined business practices and a culture more closely connected to their purpose and values. They were committed to redefining the organization and had a bold vision for their future.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Michelle Berry, ARIDO; Jillian Warren, ARIDO; Daniel Norwood, ARIDO
Design Firm: Figure3
Design Team: Michela Kochanski, ARIDO

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

Having worked out of their existing office since the 1970’s (450 employees across seven floors and approx. 200K square feet), it no longer represented OPG as a progressive organization. Their four different energy sectors worked in silos, and much of the space was inefficient and underutilized. Staff also felt isolated by high partitions restricting sight lines to fellow coworkers.

A workplace transformation was needed to support and align with this culture shift, resulting in the need for a redesign from the ground up. Their physical work environment needed to reflect and support how OPG planned to streamline their business practices and systems.

The new space promotes a greater sense of ownership among staff, allowing the organization to be more performance-oriented, collaborative and demonstrate industry leadership. The new workspace is modern, beautiful and open. Natural light now shines in throughout the space like it couldn’t before, allowing more connection to the outside world.

The design language throughout connects to the progressive values of OPG and the purpose of their business, namely power, science, technology, and natural resources. The reception desk is made of steel tubes to mimic the nuclear calandria cooling tubes, The Boardwalk (an open environment along the window spanning the length of the floor) is fashioned with outdoor furniture as would be seen in a park, a feature wall includes hard hats from their power plants and partnering organizations, display shelving features artifacts and historical pieces from OPG’s history, and artwork by Indigenous artists adorns the walls. Environmental graphics in meeting rooms depict stylized, abstract images of earth elements as well as their other facilities.

With such a major transformation, the design team employed its proprietary intensive research process to peel back the layers and uncover OPG’s needs and wants in order to deliver a strategic approach to support a reimagined workplace.

Over three months of study, the design team completed an extensive strategy report which would serve as the design blueprint for OPG’s new space. Feedback from staff indicated they wanted to experience more empowerment, more connection, more support, and more pride in their workplace. Feedback from the leadership team indicated they wanted their staff to be more stimulated, engaged, nimble, and for the workplace to be unified with a feeling of trust.

A major shift for OPG was the decision to go with unassigned seating. This gave staff more choice about where they work, allowing for more opportunity for their departments to collaborate, individual brand growth, and exposure to more knowledge sharing and leadership. This supported their vision of Facilitated Leadership and growth potential across the organization, and staff now feel like their skills and talent are more recognized and valued.

The strategy report will continue to be a useful tool, serving as a template for all future workplace transformation projects throughout their real estate portfolio.

The model recognizes how energy radiates from certain key spaces, and informed the organization of the primary, secondary and community spaces. This plan protects access to daylight and views from all primary workspaces. Primary spaces are visible and connected, configurable to personal needs, and offer a level of focus and protection. Secondary spaces cater to an array of energy levels and facilitate ease of connection and sharing of information. Community spaces offer a balance between quiet and communal, and are welcoming and flexible, offering the ability to connect with each other and re-energize. Support spaces let staff move between areas and generate and absorb the organization’s buzz.

Imagery, brand, graphics, and natural resources are incorporated into OPG’s new workplace to embody the societal impacts that the organization has on the lives and livelihoods of Ontarians. The decommissioning of OPG’s no longer needed furniture was accomplished in a socially and environmentally meaningful way through a re-use buy-back program. In the process, they recycled more than 380 workstations, 500 chairs, 28 meeting tables, and 350 file cabinets. These assets (the equivalent of 133.40 metric tonnes) were donated, recycled, or diverted from landfill with an aim to result in a Zero Carbon Impact.

OPG shifted from 7 floors to 2, from 246 private offices to 0, while doubling community space from 14% to 28%. They sacrificed much space with the new design, but the resulting space was designed much more effectively, to influence employee behaviours much more positively, and to finally align with their goals.

OPG is working to dismantle the ingrained hierarchy by creating a sense of community and environment where connections and information can be freely shared between employees. This facilitated leadership approach is humanized and unified. OPG’s leadership transitioned from siloed and process oriented, to a human-centric, result driven organization.

It has been a true workplace transformation and the impact was felt immediately, with first impressions from their returning staff including exclamations such as, “I feel like I’m working at a different company.” “This transformation also supports their larger initiative to reduce their real estate footprint and reduce the use of commercial leased space, thus reducing costs that will benefit the Ontario ratepayers. It’s a new era for OPG, and they are thrilled with their new workplace which is now finally aligned with their values and vision for the future.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: 2019
Project Square Footage: 110,000 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: Red Bull Canada

Creating a space that uniquely brings to life what a brand represents – energy, pushing boundaries, and going beyond the ordinary – without explicit over-branding was our latest challenge with a new workspace in Liberty Village.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Guy Painchaud, ARIDO; Heidi Painchaud, ARIDO
Design Firm: iN STUDIO
Design Team: Carl Jo, Intern, ARIDO

Photographer: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

The central concept became a simple path – the journey, dubbed “the vortex,” a reciprocal effect of a kinetic movement or action. This concept was fitting to the essence of the brand, representing energy and thinking big, beyond the ordinary. The vortex was to be the connection point to all the various program elements – a spine to which all other members were connected. A place of movement and interaction. An ever-changing and evolving experience like a journey. This key feature envelopes the user in a three-dimensional experience through the movement of floor, wall, and ceiling elements.

The elevator lobby greets guests with a modest, almost raw environment with a key feature perforated metal wall inclusive of a simple brand message, and content screens. Directly adjacent, the ceiling and flooring guide visitors onwards to reception. A dynamic reception desk gives way to the adjacent guest pantry area. Mixtures of raw metal, butcher black wood, and lacquer surfaces create a contrast of finishes that speak to both a refined palette as well as the necessity to maintain the raw element.

Along the vortex, one can engage with the open office environment, wellness, multi-purpose and conference spaces, as well as informal booths and access water/pantry stations. The team created a unique lighting solution for the articulated space. There was not a typical ceiling area to host a patterned array of lighting, so LED channels were incorporated into the dynamic, angled moves of both the wall and floor – creating a side light / uplight to the entire corridor.

Conference spaces are self walled smaller components that are adjacent to the vortex. All contain technology that is future adaptable and is designed to be optimal to the requirement of the various team sets, along with complementary smaller meeting rooms and phone rooms.

The main staff pantry is a galley-style kitchen with links to the vortex and the main staff lounge area. It can also support events. In fact, a black box venue can house various signature events, small concerts, performances, festivities, or simple staff gatherings. A purpose-designed beverage bar with all required equipment and services is directly connected to the terrace to allow for additional festivity outdoors.

Dynamic finishes created in the vortex area continue in the open office area and ripple through the entire environment. The project was given a healthy workplace audit given the recent pandemic impact, and material cleanability, as well as hygiene-focused resources, was adapted into the work environment via inherent materiality as selected.

The brand for this client is high performance. The designer’s solution needed to exceed that bar aesthetically, functionally, financially, and creatively. All expectations were exceeded and a new bar has been set.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: July 2020
Project Square Footage: 14,000 square feet

A fresh new office 35 years in the making

After operating for 35 years out of an industrial office space, it was time for a functional improvement. DRE Industries acquired a new two storey commercial unit which we had the opportunity to build out.

Interior Designer: Noelle Lekkas, ARIDO 
Design Firm: C3D Design

Our client’s business focus is supplying waterproofing products & other materials for the construction industry. They needed a professional space that they could bring clients into, to present and educate on materials, a sample library, and a space that was overall positive and fun to work in.

The new space features ten-foot ceilings and industrial style fenestration. Our goal was to create a functional, simple, sophisticated and fun space. With our client, we decided on a polished concrete floor with light aggregate in the main areas and used a beautiful lush carpet tile in the offices and boardroom. The entire space was painted white with hits of black accents.

We were able to feature one of our client’s supplier’s material in the space by using Terrazzo on the kitchen counters and backsplash – this added a chance to present their product line in a unique and not so obvious way.

Our approach of using a neutral palette and textural finishes allowed the architectural elements of the space to speak for themselves. Result?  A not-so-boring office, a professional and functional space that evokes a calm and positive energy.

OCAD’s first satellite campus brings their trademark brand further east

The name CO says a lot in only two letters, describing a facility that works at the intersection of collaboration, community and co-design. OCAD U CO was conceived as an executive training studio where companies can use facilitated processes cultivated from the university’s focus on design thinking and creative problem-solving to drive major change in their organizations. Located at the Daniels City of the Arts building on the Toronto waterfront, the 14,000 square foot raw interior was long and narrow with sixteen-foot-high ceilings, with one of its greatest assets being its uninterrupted views of Lake Ontario. 

Interior Designer(s): Caroline Robbie, ARIDO

Design Team: Tor McGlade, Stephanie Wiebe

Design Firm: BDQ Quadrangle

Photographer: Adrien Williams

Since this was to be OCAD’s first satellite project away from its McCaul Street campus, the design team saw the interior as an opportunity to take cues from the University’s iconic Sharp Centre for Design. Early in the research phase of exploring design options for the new campus, the CO design team distributed surveys to elicit what people associated with OCAD. Strong colour blocking and elements of the unexpected, were rapidly identified as the most common significant elements of OCAD’s infamous identity. 

The design team decided to run with it, embracing the bold colours that reasserted OCAD’s characteristic identity of creativity and artistic fun. Contrasting the vibrancy of the Sharp inspired design, a black and white pixelated identity, that also informs the University’s trademark brand, was incorporated into the accessible gender-neutral washroom, linking it with the Tabletop’s signature façade. The resultant design creates a stimulating visual and psychological connection between the two campuses, which jumpstarts the creative thinking process with its open, airy spaces, and energizing jolts of colour. 

Though typical workplace interiors tend to be muted and generic, the new CO design intentionally embraces shocking colours, to purposefully induce a sense of being slightly unhinged. The interior is organized into clear, distinguishable zones for reception, studios,  administration, AV loans, individual workspaces, and meeting areas, as bold colours are further activated within the space to assist with wayfinding and place identity. Connecting the space’s characteristic colour and pixelation at dramatically different scales, from the micro seen on vision strips to medium-scale tiling details, the design emulates the macro scale of the McCaul Street Tabletop. 

Each section of CO has is marked by its respective level of public or private exposure and colour. The open kitchenette forms a natural hearth for the relaxed, common area with its bright red cappuccino maker, inviting visitors to linger and get comfortable at the heart of the space. Floating wood ceilings in the Innovation Studios keep voices isolated within each space and discretely integrate AV, mechanical, and lighting, to facilitate a functional and visually appealing design. 

The client requested spaces that could be flexible for a variety of activities and to easily evolve over time. Maximizing flexibility, the designers outfitted the largest interconnected studios with operable walls, enabling these rooms to be combined with the open collaboration zone, transforming it into a single 160-foot long event space. Maximizing usable space, the designers were able to carve out two feet from the base building mechanical and electrical rooms to create colour blocked niches with built-in benches and drop-down desks for private or shared study.

The project brings design thinking to life in a bold, yet branded environment. Facilitating interactive workshops, CO blends the professionalism required for successful change management with the playfulness of an arts school, inspiring new and creative approaches to problem-solving.

An activity based workplace for innovation

With a lease expiration looming, Cisco was prompted to examine their current work space only to realize that it was not compatible with current ways of working. Cisco envisioned their new WaterPark Place office as a branded environment demonstrating the company’s commitment to innovation and an opportunity to showcase their integrated technology products.

Interior Designer: Sharon Turner, ARIDO
Design Team: Marianna Ng, ARIDO; Laura Jones, ARIDO; Lisa Fulford-Roy, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Project Photographer: Tom Arban

With a hot desking set up for most employees, the layout is based on work styles rather than by departments, following the activity-based model. This also encourages employees to work remotely, making full use of technology that supports flexibility and innovation.

The employee floors are designed in three concentric circles, with the café and meeting spaces at the centre. Next, the middle ring is a series of quiet rooms, built with acoustic solutions, creating a buffer between ‘social’ and ‘work’ spaces. The outermost ring houses individual workstations, ensuring every employee has access to natural light. Cisco’s technology products are integrated throughout, providing opportunities for employees to witness their implementation.

With a neutral base palette enhanced by warm walnut wood, different accent colours on each of three floors produce an effect that is sophisticated but not trendy. The working environments are clean-lined and professional; in contrast, the social spaces have a more industrial look with open ceilings, metal stairs, concrete accent walls, and reclaimed wood paneling.

To create a greater sense of place and identity, the design team incorporated icons of Canadian culture throughout, including meeting rooms named after iconic Toronto buildings, like Casa Loma and Massey Hall.

East coast cool infuses this office with casual, relaxed atmosphere

For their Contact Centre in Halifax, TD Insurance wanted to captivate and exceed the expectations of TD’s younger employees. The client wanted an effective workplace with ample space for relation and conviviality, with a connection to the culture of its host city, Halifax, NS. As the office is located less centrally, TD wanted to highlight the stunning outdoor surroundings, seaside, and the relaxed nature of the area.

Interior Designer: John Tanfield, ARIDO
Design Firm: SGH Design Partners
Photographer: Kelly Clark

The design team created neighbourhoods of workstations to disrupt repetition while achieving maximum efficiency. The floor plan was mapped out as a streetscape that mimics the Halifax city plan. Wide pedestrian avenues and connecting corridors become streets that link neighbourhoods of workstations, amid meeting rooms and employee pause stations. This layout encourages movement throughout the day, and the range of workspace options boosts wellness in the workplace. Open ceilings, industrial fixtures, and interactive graphics incorporate the essence of the history and vibrant arts community known to the east coast.

Employee pause stations are surrounded by coloured glass walls to reflect the colourful palette of boats in the harbour, while raw materials like reclaimed wood and metals define these areas and evoke the laid-back nature of the city. The design team commissioned murals, custom lighting, and decorative features from local artists, ensuring the space is authentic, casual, and cherished by staff.