OFFICES for TAXIBEAT ltd

TYPE: urban

LOCATION: 11, Sina St, Athens city centre

PROJECT: architectural, interior & furniture design, spatial graphic design

DATE: feb – july 2012

DESIGN CONCEPT
Scenes from the urban realm, geographical representations and interpretative mappings of pedestrian and vehicular movement in public space and the idea of these as generators of interaction have inspired the design of Taxibeat’s new offices in Athens. The company specialises in the development of software applications for facilitating movement in the city, connecting taxi drivers to customers, through smart phone technologies. The streetscape vs cityscape concept has guided design choices in terms of spatial layout as well as materiality, detailed design and graphical expressions.

PROJECT TEAM:
Maria Doxa & Marina Stassinopoulos
Sylvia Diamantopoulou
Konstantinos Koryllos & Vassilis Grammaticos
Laline Pieracou
Timos Zaverdinos


ANALYSIS OF DESIGN CONCEPT
1. Spatial Configuration: Using the paradigm of URBAN CULTURE to enhance creativity in the workspace
The understanding that urban movement and urban density provide the potential for planned and un-planned encounters in public space finds resonance in recent studies on innovative office environments: research has shown consistent links between creativity, innovation or problem-solving and non-scheduled interaction, both among employees from different departments and among employees and external visitors.
Despite the relatively small size of the organisation, the new offices for Taxibeat have been designed with these concepts in mind, aiming to facilitate casual interactions and -through them- creativity in the workplace. Private and group office spaces, as well as the brainstorm room, are organised around a work lounge. Metaphorically referencing the urban public square, the work lounge is a space freely available for use to all, including occasional visitors. In open-plan arrangement to the lobby, customer-support and kitchen-dining areas, the work lounge becomes the common point of reference for all, both in terms of visibility and access. 2. Detailing, Materiality and Graphical Expressions: CITYSCAPE-STREETSCAPE-OFFICESCAPE
The overall office space has been conceived as an extension of the street:
- the floor is covered with a tarmac-colored carpet which has tyre marks designed and painted on it.
- the two perimeter walls facing the street are given a rougher texture, referencing exterior building facades.
- the two perimeter ‘ blind’ walls are entirely covered with full scale prints of abstract photographs depicting scenes from the urban realm: long exposure shots of cars and city lights, of shoppers in Athens city centre and of pedestrians in Syntagma square.

Within this context, solid interior partitions defining private offices are treated as free-standing planes, as if part of a street art installation. Themes for these graphic events stem from recordings of journeys in Athens:
- ‘taxi ghosts’: superimposed traces of 15-day taxi journeys, including charts measuring changing average distances and accumulative lengths of cab journeys at hourly intervals through the day.
- ‘taxi drops’: an origin-destination map of taxi callings and drop-off points on rainy spring days,
- system traffic dials: comparative hourly charts of accumulative monthly taxi-calling rates, and
- ‘a day in the life of.. ‘: a 24hour recording and superimposed mapping of people’s journeys in the city on a summer Friday, featuring company employees’, taxi-drivers’ and taxi-users.

The main elevation of the lobby features, apart from the company’s logo, the map of the world in Waterman’s butterfly projection. Both are laser-cut into a thick marine plywood panel. A metal panel is fixed behind the hole left on the map, so that magnetic pins can be placed on the exact locations of each of the cities around the world where the company is expanding.
A graphical composition made of tweets from Taxibeat users covers the full width and height of the lobby’s side wall. The tweets are arranged so as to plot the actual overall monthly twitter traffic of the company’s first year of operation.
Other walls are covered with whiteboard paint to promote direct expression and visual communication of ideas. Columns and locker surfaces are covered with blackboard paint for the same reason.
Filters on glass partitions separating enclosed and open plan spaces feature a linear composition of imaginary skylines made of buildings and famous landmarks from cities around the world, including Paris, Milan, Rio de Janeiro, New York, etc..

A grey-scale palette with bright touches of color is used throughout. Grey wall backdrops are chosen in the enclosed offices for visual comfort when working in front of the computer screen, along with glossy whiteboard and matte blackboard solid surfaces in the public spaces.
Bright colors are used only selectively on furniture and fabrics as playful focal points. They include orange, yellow and lime, which are the company’s trademark colors, as well as ocean blues and graphite to complement and balance the color palette.
Natural wood is used on work-surfaces because it provides visual warmth and is pleasant to touch irregardless of temperature.

PROJECT TEAM:
Maria Doxa & Marina Stassinopoulos
Laline Pierrakos
Sylvia Diamantopoulos