CODA Studio is shortlisted in the 2012 Australian Interior Design Awards in the Workplace Design category, for its own studio.
Designing their own studio allowed the team the freedom to define their own space and determine how they wanted to be presented to the world. It also gave them the opportunity to explore ideas that are important to the practice’s philosophy.
Emma Williamson and Kieran Wong started CODA Studio fifteen years ago, when they had just finished university. Since then, the studio has gone from being primarily concerned with residential architecture to focusing on architecture, interiors, urban design, planning and landscape design. Based in Western Australia, the practice is surrounded by rapidly expanding urban areas. Williamson, Wong and their team seek to “better the lives of the in habitants through appropriate and place specific design outcomes.”
The decision to create a new office came from a lack of space for the expanded team. They decided to do it themselves to have the opportunity to test a range of spatial and materials ideas that they had had in mind for a while – and they couldn’t afford anyone else.
The brief was to expand the studio from a “home office” to a medium-sized practice, while maintaining the warmth and familiarity of the previous space. The practice needed to create a comfortable studio space for its design staff as well as a series of spaces for the variety of informal and formal meetings that take place every day. It also required a large kitchen and staff dining space, a library and quiet reading spaces. This was achieved by placing the public spaces on the ground floor and the studio workspace upstairs. The kitchen and library form the core of the office and are enjoyed throughout the day, adapting easily from quiet work spaces to collaborative meeting venues to hosting the all-important Monday Lunch for the entire studio.
The decision to use only recyclable materials in the project underpinned all the material choices. In addition, CODA wanted any new insertion to be recyclable and be able to be removed at the end of its life without damage to the building. New ply insertions read against the backdrop of the warehouse and the original structure is reframed to express their materiality and assembly.
By sourcing vintage furniture the team was able to reduce the number of resources required to complete the project and embed a history and familiarity in the spaces. Similarly, the potential to integrate recycled elements into the building interior embeds a sense of history through the elements’ tactility and imperfections.
The way the space is used is also considerate of the environment. Openable windows, ceiling fans, separate airconditioning units and task lamps allow users to control thermal comfort and light individually.
Close collaboration with carpenters, who worked on everything from structure to furniture, along with daily site meetings, created agility, allowing a response to the existing fabric and the unexpected opportunities that recycled materials present. The project is designed as a whole, from spatial planning to furniture and lighting. The new studio demonstrates that it is possible to create a sophisticated professional workspace with a robust palette of natural materials.
CODA Studio believes that contemporary workspaces should “invite individual participation in the creation of their work environment. The studio creates a backdrop for these choices, allowing lighting levels and thermal comfort to be assessed individually. The space reinforces that workplaces can be inviting and warm whilst still maintaining a professional appearance.”