Cholakov-Gongalov Architects is a studio with outstanding record in creating practical, aesthetic and innovative office spaces. Established in 2012, the studio has successfully worked with clients from all over the globe, including USA, UK, Germany, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Libya. Architects Viktor Cholakov and Dimitar Gongalov share more.
What requirements should an office space meet to be comfortable and enjoyable?
Several factors, defining the quality of the work environment, should be considered by the design and construction of office spaces.
The functional layout is the first step. It is one of the crucial requirements for an office to be comfortable and practical. Both the layout of the space-defining elements (walls, transparent elements, glazing) and the space distribution of the furniture elements should be taken in consideration.
Many big companies now prefer open-space planning, because it allows them to fit more people per square metre, while allowing bigger flexibility for growing, shrinking or merging different teams within the company.
Open-space planning has significant advantages, but it doesn't suit all companies. The essence of work in some firms defines the good noise insulation in the office as crucial for the productivity. In such cases open-space planning is not recommendable.
Quality interior design developed specifically for the company's brand and identity has recently become a major factor for attracting new employees. Working with architectural and interior design studios is becoming a standard practice for large companies as in some sectors of the economy there is a huge demand for employees and a strong competition between the companies for them. The work environment is one of the defining factors when an employee chooses an employer, so this results in increased demand for designer studios' services.
Last but not least in importance are ergonomics and microclimate. The desks and the chairs where the staff spend most of their day should be first and foremost comfortable. Often the choice of quality furniture is underestimated, but ergonomics is a crucial factor for high productivity. Good lightning and ventilation are also absolutely obligatory.
What is the first or the most important thing you consider when you start designing an office space?
The philosophy of our studio is that there is no such thing as a magic bullet for all projects. We always begin by identifying what is important for the specific case, the specific client and the specific space. When we find and define it, it becomes the leading factor in the design process. We have used a variety of approaches and contrary to the popular notion, the creative part of the task is not always the main challenge. If we need to sum up in a single word what is most important in our approach, it would be synthesis. This is the key to the quality final result. A combination and balance between client requirements, space characteristics, creativity and budget.
What are the current trends in office space design?
The growth of the IT and outsourcing sectors and the managers' desire to offer the staff a work environment that fits their lifestyle has resulted in preference to spaces with more informal and urban atmosphere. Open-space offices with additional social zones (relax and snack areas, game zones, rooms and areas for quick meetings, phone booths etc.) are preferred. In most cases exactly those social zones define the character and style of the whole office, because the interior design elements, colours and shapes are concentrated in them, while the open-space work zones are more plain and simple. Two reasons are turning this approach into a trend. First, while working, the attention of the employees is focused on their tasks, so there is no need for too many details and elements in the work spaces. Second, the work spaces are bigger than social zones and developing fully detailed interior design in them would significantly increase the budget for execution.
Share with us an interesting, memorable or challenging project you have worked on? What challenges you had to overcome and what solutions did you find?
One of the latest projects that we recently finished and are currently managing is the office of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The challenge in this project was in the creative part of the process as we had to create spaces with clean and even conservative design and in the same time the atmosphere had to be contemporary and fresh. We achieved this with the use of clean shapes and dark tightening elements, combined with careful use of colour accents and contemporary materials and approaches (millings, prints, contemporary lightning elements). Another interesting moment in this project was that the client required the effect of an open-scape office, but the nature of work of the different teams didn't allow it due to the high level of noise. That is why we separated the spaces with glass partitions.
In another recent project of ours the challenge was completely different, as in this case the client wanted very simple and plain design. The difficulty there was to conform the client's many and very specific technical requirements and to find a working way to apply the solutions in practice.
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