How can design bridge the divide of open plan working in the legal profession?

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The shift towards fully open styles of workplace design presents challenges to the legal profession. How can design bridge the divide? We spoke to Woods Bagot’s Brett Simmonds about his softer, feminine approach for Hall and Wilcox.


“Hall & Wilcox’s re location was an opportunity to re -calibrate the firm in a highly competitive legal services market and differentiate themselves as agile and innovative,” says Brett Simmonds, Associate at Woods Bagot, and designer of the new Hall and Wilcox Lawyers office space. As a tech savy, forward thinking organization, Hall and Wilcox was keen to be early adaptors of new working practices and technologies.

“The primary design challenge was balancing the requirement for privacy and confidentiality with the firm’s de sire to move towards more team orientated spaces, all within an open plan e environment,” Simmonds continues. “As a solution to this, we created a number of work settings comprising a mix of collaborative space s and a variety of quiet, concentrative working environments that recognize and respond to the way lawyers work.”


The open plan design enables  teams to be created and re configured quickly. It also creates  a collegiate environment, where junior lawyers can learn from senior lawyers in an authentic setting.

As for how Simmonds and the Woods Bagot team approached the brief initially, Simmonds says, “We aimed to reinforce Hall & Wilcox’s focus on working smart  through the look and feel of workspaces. Curves and soft edges are used throughout the design alongside a refined finishes scheme.”

“A key feature of the design is the interconnecting stair, which links each floor’s social space s, including the level 11 client space. While the stair is about connectivity, level 11 provide s a welcoming reception area that invites clients into the he art of the business. A clients’ first impression of the firm is intentionally inviting, with a split-level reception desk in the middle of a naturally lit open reception space to draw people in. Stepping into the space, the design continues  to create an immersive experience that encourages visiting clients to feel part of the business.”


The workspace efficiently facilitate s the working style s of a mode rn le gal practice, with refreshingly light, bright and airy interiors creating a welcoming client experience and effective work settings.

Interface carpet tiles were also used in spaces around the dual cores and indicated a change in use from open workspace to collaboration or focus. “We wanted a floor finish that provided a contrast to the standard grey base tile, and enlivened the spaces where it was used, as well as providing some acoustic performance. Interface Online Mushroom and Online Lagoon  were selected to  fit perfectly into our subdued colour palette and proved effective as a textural contrast to the base tile.”


“The Skinny Plank allowed us to blur, or pixilate the edges of the spaces, and provide a sense of movement and excitement with the contrasting colours selected,” Simmonds continues. While the majority of the spaces with the Interface tile are enclosed, the transition becomes apparent as you walk around the floor plate due to the glazed partitions that allow views into the spaces. “The plank format also provided a clear point of different to the base building square tile helping to elevate the spaces further.”



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