Creating a Sustainable Space to Support a Variety of Work Styles
How timber frame structures transformed a warehouse into a sleek brand showcase
For Laura Parker, this construction project started like so many other creative endeavors – on a Pinterest board.
“I probably did a good couple of months of pinning. I found really natural, clean lines. I really liked wood integration in the space,” says Parker.
I actually pinned a timber solution from Calgary, here, and that ended up being our architect’s project, so it was very much a match made in heaven.
Parker is the general manager of a Calgary-based company specializing in vertical farming solutions. Knowing they had outgrown their existing space, she hit the internet looking for inspiration. The pictures she found showed off a free-standing timber structure in local credit union's new head office. Those same pictures led her to Lemay Architecture and Design, and to DIRTT.
“I was looking for a sustainable solution,” says Parker.
Sustainability can be a bit of a catch all term. It can refer to using precision off-site manufacturing to reduce material use, limit construction waste, and contribute to green building goals. It could be using sustainable timber to reduce your carbon footprint. Or maybe it’s modular wall assemblies that allow users to easily reconfigure their space.
“I found DIRTT and I said, ‘Yep, that that feels right.’ They seem to have the same goals and vision that we do,” says Parker
From the start, Parker had a vision for the space. It had to showcase all aspects of vertical farming - the technology, the lighting, and the irrigation. And do it in a stylish way that supported both their staff and their brand.
“I was looking for really clean lines. Something awe-inspiring,” says Parker. “Something that really took people's breath away when they walked in the space and invited them to come look at our farm.”
For Parker, it had to be more than a viewing area with natural wood tones and black powder coat. It had to be built as sustainably as possible to align with their company values. And it had to support a variety of work styles.
“I had a bit of a napkin sketch from the get-go. I knew managers needed a quieter area, so I knew we kind of wanted to integrate that. I knew I wanted collaboration spaces - some to be open, some to be enclosed.” says Parker. “We could have multiple drop-in zones and different size meeting areas. That was really, really important to me.”
Explore the space
How they did it
Searching for a new location, Parker found a warehouse space that felt like the right fit. The 30-foot-high ceiling would keep things bright and open, but it posed some challenges in terms of how to define the space.
“When we have a big space, it has a tall ceiling,” says Kristy Schott, project manager and senior interior designer at Lemay Architecture and Design. “And we have smaller rooms that we put walls around. It starts to become very well-like.”
To make it feel better, we like to drop the ceilings down to give it a little bit more cozy feeling.
The rest of the office was designed to create pockets of space where everyone could work. Whether it’s private offices, open areas with workstations, board rooms, huddle areas, or phone booths, every member of the team has a place to do their best work. And when it’s time for a break, the casework with integrated lighting in the kitchen and java area make sure they have everything they need to refuel.
“I love it,” says Parker. “I love coming to work every day. It's lovely. I work in almost every space. I've really taken a chance to use it to the best of its ability.”
Making an impression
In the end, the space did exactly what it needed to. The team enjoyed the flexibility they had in the office. And the sustainable space impressed visitors as they walked through the door.
“We've had Calgary Economic Development come through and they're looking at starting the controlled-environment ag board. And when we asked for a seat at the table, they were so complimentary,” says Parker. “They said, ‘No, we want a seat at your table. We really like your space. We would love to use it.’ So, that was that was a massive compliment.”
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