Siemens commissioned Bluehaus Group to carry out a design consultancy of its consolidation of numerous UAE-based corporate offices and businesses into a single building in The Galleries, Jebel Ali in Dubai. Its work was so successful that after Siemens’ head of corporate real estate visited the location, the look has been earmarked as the benchmark design for the region.
Bluehaus was charged with integrating Siemens’ global workplace principals whilst injecting localised creative areas and consideration for local nuances and practices. Contemporary ‘majlis’ style creative rooms were designed into each floor to encourage team based creative discussions.
The outcome is an efficient, successful and progressive workplace, according to Ben Corrigan, principal/founding partner, Bluehaus Group.
Corrigan said the design brief the firm was given was to roll out the Siemens paradigm across the world. “It’s an aggressive, progressive open-plan work environment and the primary design element was that they wanted to localise it to a certain extent, while complying with their work standards. It’s important to remember that what works in Europe may not work over here,” he added.
The project was rolled out in two phases, with the five-floor facility opening in full in October 2011. The basic idea behind the look was to have an open-plan layout. While the building has closed/private rooms as well, it’s only on a limited scale.
“When you look at the office, you will see some areas enclosed with long sticks of bamboo. Those are the managers’ chambers. The bamboo is meant to designate the leader of that team, but they are still part of the group and can still collaborate with the people around them,” said Corrigan.
Flexibility was an important consideration. Bluehaus has designed it in such a way that if the number of staff increases or decreases, changes can be made very quickly. The idea of mobile desking has been incorporated with employees receiving lockers to keep their belongings in if need be.
Corrigan said the only challenge the design team faced was the building itself. “For example, ceilings were low so we had to co-ordinate our design with that restriction in mind. Working within the building’s dimensions was something we had to constantly think about.”
When bringing “local” into the design, Bluehaus worked to form a contemporary majlis in place of conference rooms.
“This has some bearing on where the office is located. On entering, people step down into a pitch-like setting and sit comfortably amidst the cushions. It’s got all the technology the employees need to host a conference or a meeting – LCD screens, connectivity and more, but they feel they are in a comfortable and traditional setting,” said Corrigan.
The lines are contemporary and clean. “The design has an element of vibrancy and fairly natural, but in line with Siemens’ philosophy. The final look gives off a feeling of solidity,” he added.
Bluehaus has worked for Nokia-Siemens for four years and delivered 22 offices around the Middle East and Africa. While it has also worked for Nokia, this is the first time the firm collaborated with Siemens. It has, after this project, secured the contract for Siemens Riyadh, an 80,000 square feet facility.
“We’re very, very busy. We’re currently designing the workplace for the Dubai Airport offices, which will be 120,000 square feet. The firm has just delivered many projects, like the office for Clifford Chance in Sowwah Square, Abu Dhabi and DIFC. There’s also Technip, a 200,000 square feet space in Abu Dhabi,” said Corrigan. It also completed the fit-out of its headquarters in Dubai.
Another important undertaking is its relationship with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. “Bluehaus Group has supported Dubai Chamber for three years in the re-stacking and phasing of the building in four phases.
“Initial works involved workplace strategy where we studied the business to understand who they were and how they worked. This included targeted interviews with department heads and collation of information before reporting back on the findings and proposing the strategy for moving forward. The outcome has been staggering in terms of improved performance, efficiency and staff well-being,” added Corrigan.
“We have lots of new projects; we’re hoping to start the year in a very strong position,” he added.