Coca-Cola Lab Fcility

The design Coca Cola South Pacific's Lab facility was detailed and intricate. The LAB is a highly secure research and development facility for new product not open to visitors. The project brief required that we insert a complex lab function into an existing warehouse that had never been designed for the purpose. The genesis of the project was largely Coca-colas aim to rationalise the use of space to achieve greater efficiencies and in turn cut costs. This required a space rationalisation of 40% from the previous site equating to a reduction of the net lettable area from 1800sqm to 1000sqm.

A detailed project methodology was developed including a review of the corporate accommodation strategy, management and staff surveys. A key outcome of the process was that the organisation retained the original brief to rationalise their use of space but they then embraced the opportunity to develop the new site to better reflect the company's core brand and cultural values. The eventual client brief was to provide an office environment consistent with the global brand image of Coca-cola that would engage and motivate their people, reduce the size of the office accommodation and keep to a budget that would withstand scrutiny from Coca-cola Head Office in Atlanta at a time of cost restructuring.

Staff wanted to feel like they worked for Coca-Cola. The previous office accommodation had erased any corporate or cultural identity. Pastel yellows, blues and terracotta were overly represented at the old office. Staff wanted to see RED, and work in an environment that supported the dynamic office culture of Coca-cola.

We approached the project through a diagnostic assessment of the previous office and the development of a suitable design solution. Our main design concept was to juxtapose the original raw concrete features of the existing warehouse against new, polished and contemporary elements to create a visually interesting composition of colour, texture and finish.

Dulux Coca-Cola Red was chosen as the dominant colour in a nod to staff as is it symbolised the brand, past, present and future. Iconic Coca-cola graphics were employed down view corridors to reinforce branding and support the company philosophy to 'create taste'.

Louvre screens were employed throughout the design in response to the tight spaces and limited natural light. They create instant definition to the spaces while also being transparent and operable to allow the spaces to flow and maximise flexibility.

Lab and product development employees were encouraged to identify 3 words that supported their work and the company mission statement in the development of new product. The key words were Create, Taste, and Enjoy. These words were incorporated into the design as large tag lines throughout the spaces to reinforce the company's goals with any new product.

Implementing a largely open plan design throughout optimised the use of the space. Staff became happily involved in the assessment and analysis of each space, its function and aesthetic with a critical eye that resulted in organisational, work method and design change. Task spaces became open instead of closed rooms. Island lab benches with common circulation spaces replaced small individual labs with fixed benches around the walls. These underutilised spaces were in effect returned to all staff for deployment as breakout and activity based spaces.

The design was very successful in creating a modern office and lab within the constraints of a building that originally met none of the client's benchmark criteria, other than the appropriate industrial zoning. Coca-cola, together with staff input and engagement, achieved a key project aim of reducing the leased space by nearly 50%. While staff were very happy with the final design outcome because together with management they handed back wasted space in labs, offices and storage areas and gained a dynamic office environment aligned with the company culture.

© arnoldlane