By Thio Lay Hoon : ID Singapore

 April | May 1997

Waiting room at the reception: planes are expertly treated for textural interest and design. All vertical elements, including the grill-door (behind the Ruhlmann armchair) are proportioned for the illusion of a very discreetly 'grand' space in a small floor area. The partition is constructed of rusted metal frames and gold leaf mullions holding translucent glass infilled with stainless steel mesh. Soft, diffused light gently illuminate the huge monochromatic abstract by American artist, James Brown. Storage is concealed behind the wall of white panels. The brown rug is a rare Afghanistan tribal. Note the silver-leaf wall plane upon which the company's signage is  mounted. It unifies and exemplifies the attention to craft.

Door leading to the work area from the reception. The counter is clad in Italian fossil limestone, which goes well with the Chinese teak flooring and Australian black bean veneer. The wall sconce is a Michael Graves 'Torino'. If you sense a certain 30's feel to the interiors, it is deliberate!

Open-plan work area: the Directors' room placed at the far end, allowing a slightly larger workspace. Custom-made filing cabinets are painted with ICI metallic AutoColor, topped in white Volax marble. Note the custom-dyed suede paneling on the planes that house cabinetry and function as partial dividers. Working hours can be very long, and the comfort of staff is given much consideration. Thus, ergonomically designed Aaron chairs from Pacific Decor are used throughout. The secretarial station in the foreground is glass cladding painted in a metallic green.

The library, which is slightly 'residential', also serves as an additional waiting area, entertaining area and as a quiet spot for the staff to be away from the open plan office. This room, equipped with a fully concealed Bose sound system, can be enlarged by means of a sliding wall. The Ruhlmann sofa and Eames lounge chairs are chosen for their 30's resonance. The carpet is a 100 year-old Afghan tribal. On the partitioning is Australian black bean veneer.

The Boardroom is an understated composition of white on white. Padded raw canvas panels acoustically insulate this room, a meeting table of Volax marble seats 20. Below : a smaller meeting room with a sliver window facing the top of a nearby bank.


3 0 ' S    O  N     A     F  A  S  T     T  R  A  C  K

They had about three months to complete the project. Eight weeks after being awarded the contract, Poole Associates managed to complete the work areas for this 5,000 square foot office on the 52nd floor of Republic Plaza to begin operations.

 Renovations carried on at the front of house and were finished one month later. In meeting the design brief that was incumbent with a tight schedule, the designers also managed to 'address the issue of a short-term lease and fast-track the job to be completed on time without letting up on quality.

The client, an investment banking group from New York relocating to Singapore and Hong Kong, had earlier engaged another firm to design their new office. But matters ran afoul, causing delays that were costing the client huge sums in rent outlay. The project was thus recommissioned to Poole Associates, who was brought in to make up for lost time - and do a better job.

To fast-track the job, systems furniture 'modified to suit an appropriate image was manufactured locally to reduce lead times'. There were no enclosed offices in the plan, including the Director's room, although visual privacy was still required 'to ease the transition from the private office layout in New York to the open concept in Singapore'.

Says Ed: 'With the open-plan solution, large sums were consequently saved as aircon, sprinklers, lighting, etc. do not need to be moved according to cubical layout of offices. This 'saved' money directly translated into top grade materials used throughout. For instance, all desks are of marble and exotic veneers. Combining custom cabinetry clad in suede and locally manufactured systems furniture into one cohesive free-standing partitioning system offered a solution that met the need to construct quickly, and which can be reproduced easily as the firm expands, maintaining uniformity of design'.

The desired look is a Modernist composition of planes, trimmed and fitted with subtle 1930's details and furnishings, for an overall picture of a 'high-power New York-style' office - just as the client had wanted.

This job, like Poole Associates' many others, bears the design firm's typical attention-to-every-detail. Ed Poole has this uncanny ability to produce designs that are invariably pleasing and witty in adapting the forms and nuances of classical styles, whether Modern or Traditional, into a perfectly contemporary mode. Apart from having the right look, his designs tend to be dynamically rationalized too, right down to the use of materials.

At the reception, for instance, Feng Shui required that the view to the adjacent building from the entrance was to be blocked. Thus, a monumental wall was placed behind the desk clad in Italian fossil limestone, a material that agrees amicably with the Chinese teak flooring and the Australian black bean veneer on the cabinetry. By relocating building services and ducting to the lounge, the ceiling was raised to the maximum height possible, placing subtle emphasis on the formality of the space, even though the actual floor area is minimal. To further accentuate the height of this room, the vertical edges of planar walls are emphasized, and a full height grill door and glass partition accented with gold-plated mullions are featured.

In the narrow space behind the reception is the staff lounge, which also serves as an additional work zone for traveling executives. Each table is wired for laptop connection to the mainframe network. The raised bench seat and bar stools elevate the rooms' occupants over sill height, enabling a spectacular panoramic view from the 52nd floor.

As the staff work well into the evenings and early morning, comfort in working long hours was a priority. To the side of the pantry is the library, which serves as an additional waiting area, meeting space, entertaining area and as a quiet spot for staff to be away from the open-plan office. This room can be enlarged by means of a sliding door.

In contrast to the richness of the library, the understated elegance of the meeting room forges a composition of white on white. Padded raw canvas panels acoustically soften this room for high-powered meetings. The space is also suited for inter office communication through speaker phones. And when the occasion calls for a congratulatory drink or two, refreshments can be served - from the nearby suede-and-polished stainless steel pantry which doubles as a bar for entertaining.


Project Team:
Ed Poole, Rey Tadifa, Willy Baet

Systems Furniture:
Workgroup Systems Pte Ltd,

No. 64 Sungei Kadut Street 1, Singapore 729365

Tel: +65 6368 4022  


Office Furniture:
Pacific Decor Pte Ltd, Singapore

Tel: +65 6532 6822


Click images for larger view

photography : C I & A


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