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Monday, January 7, 2019

Casual is the new corporate, endorses Sasaki

By Vinita Wagh
Photography: Courtesy Sasaki
Read Time: 2 mins
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Sasaki design studio emboldens Microsoft to ditch the standard corporate aesthetic and embrace an inspiring and collaborative workplace environment at their NERD Centre.

The design for Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Centre at Cambridge, an R&D site, identifies with Microsoft’s ideologies of innovation and technology – values that integrate with staff collaborations to fashion a space that encourages and energises each day.

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The new, people-oriented design sets the space free from the isolation of private offices, individual coding and formal conference rooms to welcome engaging interfaces and casual collisions. The premises accommodates not just the engineers, but also spaces for exploration and innovation – the makers space, virtual reality and green screen rooms, and spaces for internships, community outreach and partnerships.

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Work spaces function like hybrid overlays. Along the perimeter, the first layer constitutes the team suites that house a dozen people. Although enclosed, these suites are open-planned, with desks that are mobile and reconfigurable. 

The second layer outlines spaces that sit along the main circulation route – the open meeting areas outside each suite and a series of small meeting rooms and individual focus rooms, pronounced with unique furniture arrangements. 

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The circulation route itself forms the third layer, tying together the teams, the larger conference rooms and the two-storey social hub. The social hub is the community nucleus, illustrating a welcoming atmosphere and an experimental culture. Bespoke interiors embellish this casual environment – warm tones, patterned surfaces, exclusive lighting and energetic furniture – interiors that trickle into every space of the office.

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Post design, maintaining continuous operations while renovating was a continual challenge. Executing a semi-finished half-floor initially helped create usable space and the same was updated with finishes and furniture as construction proceeded two floors at a time. Further, the complex phasing process required multiple packages, approvals and feedback – all of which was accomplished with aplomb.

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At heart, the NERD Centre is a liberating cocoon, an office space strategically seeking empathy and growth, strongly showcasing that casual is the new corporate, both literally and figuratively.

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