When Cemex Strategic Philippines, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of c ement and ready-mix concrete materials decided to move office, the company had very clear ideas of what it wanted its new interiors to be. They wanted a dynamic work environment that would showcase its products, and they wanted an industrial style interior design and open office space planning to foster employee interaction.
Cemex wanted a clean break from the look of its old space, which can best be described as classic contemporary. It was characterized by the usual wall paneling of wood veneer and carpeted floors
with wooden furniture. Most of the offices were enclosed in rooms and staff workstations had bulky and high partitions.
There were multiple design challenges: Design a two-floor plan to accommodate 193 employees previously housed in a three-level space. Use cement as the main element in the design. Use reclaimed materials from other Cemex offices and plants as accents in line with the company’s environmental-friendly consciousness.
DB&B Philippines came up with a modern, simple, yet highly efficient design that made use of neutral colors white, grey and black accentuated by the bright blue and red colors of the client’s logo. The look is successfully carried out the moment one steps out of the elevator. The lift lobby wall showcases one of Cemex’s products, the “Palitada King.” The ceiling in black, white and grey is sleek and clean. The flooring made with a combination of vinyl and carpet tiles, is an unusual but surprisingly practical and aesthetic choice.
The lobby doors open to what could have been a staid rectangular reception area made exciting by the aluminum lattice ceiling. The ceiling treatment gives texture and softens the look of the space. Modern guest chairs with brightly colored seating give a jolt of visual surprise. The accent wall behind the reception is in the company’s official red shade. The corporate logo and a horizontal photo strip add visual impact.
The predominant use of cement and steel lays the foundation of what is to come when one goes further inside the office. The corridor from the reception area to the workspace is made alive by an almost floor-to-ceiling photo mosaic of the company’s presence worldwide. The floor, also done in metal-like textured vinyl tiles, provides continuity of material throughout the premises.
One major objectives of the design is to foster more direct interaction among staff. Open space planning with lower cubicle walls fulfilled this mission. Increased natural lighting is an added plus. Gray doors, white walls and black ceiling encompass the work area with a shock of red in between the somber tones of the workstation panels. A photo strip adds visual interest along one long wall. Black leather lounge chairs nestled on a gray carpet complement the white and cement background.
To further achieve the industrial look, an open ceiling painted black is used in all of the staff area, reception, huddle area and break out spaces. The dark color gives the illusion of higher headroom and a more expansive space.
Compact and efficient best describe the new Cemex head office. The smaller floor area was so cleverly and judiciously designed to even include eight meeting rooms, two break-out areas and more open space. The meeting rooms are decked mostly in glass and steel with varying shades of seat color per room. One in particular stands out with its turquoise painted wall with embossed circular patterns made out of MDF as accents. The individual offices are almost Zen-like with wooden top desks, cement wall treatment in neutral shades and mesh office chairs in black. The break-out room exhibits more freedom in design and choice of color. The circular dropped ceiling treatments done in vivid orange complement the bright fuchsia modern chairs.
All throughout the office, reclaimed materials from the company’s Solid and Apo cement plants were used. Expired firebricks are used as accent walls; furniture and artworks are strategically placed. One challenge that the design team encountered was to create an accent wall capturing the raw beauty of cement; another was a brick accent wall that the client wanted to look weather beaten and battered – both of which were achieved through hard work, perseverance and an eye for detail.
Overall, DB&B brought to life a new urban industrial office setting that Cemex had envisioned. Products were creatively showcased and reclaimed materials were beautifully integrated. Sleek, modern, environmentally sound and practical best describe the new premises of Cemex Strategic Philippines, Inc.
Source: BluPrint, June 2009, Volume 6 2009