The average office furnishing cycle of ‘fitout, strip out, repeat’ is all too familiar, and expensive, to office occupiers. It’s also a wasteful process, ripe for disruption as Guide 43 Reimagining Wood-based Office Fitout Systems demonstrates. Using open-source designs that incorporate the latest design and manufacturing technology, the Guide explains new timber options and their benefits.
Timber has a unique place in the construction industry. At one end of the scale, it is a fundamental structural
component (it has strength, can be organised into structural framing and allows diverse shapes); at the other
end, fitout owners often specify timber as an expression of quality that projects the company’s values to their
clients and staff.
While timber is common in residential construction, its application has declined in commercial office fitouts. For example, its use in office partitioning has been almost completely replaced by steel-framed plasterboard. At best, it is used as a preferred and aesthetically appealing outer skin. Where it is used, many of the workstations and other products are manufactured overseas.
However, opportunities to introduce timber are emerging as trends toward open plan offices move away from
constructed solutions and toward furniture-based design. The increasing emphasis on sustainability assessment, new ways of working, office workers who value richer engagement with their workspaces, and a broader awareness of the recurring embodied energy/carbon in each office re-fit, all point to new possibilities in office fitout.
This guide seeks to expand the view of timber as an ‘aesthetic skin’ to include new forms of engagement. It deals specifically with the development of design concepts for new wood-based office fitout systems revolving around environmental sustainability outcomes. The emphasis is on reducing the recurring physical waste and embodied carbon/energy brought about by the ‘fitout-stripout-repeat’ cycle that commonly arises from lease churn over the life of office buildings. This is primarily achieved by designing with a view to increased reuse and recycling, and by taking advantage of the inherent benefits of timber as a sustainable construction material. Designs particularly focus on partitions, workstations, furniture and suspended ceiling tiles.
Download Design Guide #43 Reimagining wood-based office fitout systems here.