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Creative Buzz

The new R&D centre of high-tech giant Autodesk in Tel Aviv won the Israeli design prize for 2015. The designer’s main challenge was to balance the need to enable extensive communication among co-workers with the necessity to create a calm and peaceful working environment.

 

 

The first thing you see when you enter the stunning new Autodesk offices in Tel Aviv is a dog lying quietly on the grey cement floor and staring right at you. Occupying four floors on one of the city’s busiest boulevards, this global software giant’s new R&D centre obviously wants its employees to feel at home – and therefore allows them to bring their pet to work.

Autodesk is a global leader in 3D design and engineering software, with more than 7,000 employees worldwide. It creates software, cloud services and apps for a range of industries, including architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing and home design. Its products (such as AutoCAD) have been used on many high-profile projects, from New York’s Freedom Tower to the expansion of the Panama Canal.

As benefits a company engaged in 3D, a three-dimensional design has been used. Products of the 3D printers located in the offices decorate the walls. “We wanted to get a sense of the product in our design,” says Shirli Zamir, project designer. “We used a broad range of materials – wood, steel and cement – interacting in a layered way. The ceiling is exposed, revealing the pipes and the electricity system – all of which creates an intriguing atmosphere.”

 

 

 Autodesk offices in Israel

  • The new Autodesk R&D centre opened in 2014 and currently houses 120 employees.
  • Autodesk is a world leader in 2D and 3D design, providing engineering and entertainment software solutions for the manufacturing, construction, media and entertainment markets.
  • The centre’s leading product, AutoCAD WS, offers access from web browsers, mobile phones and tablets. According to the company, it is used daily by millions of users worldwide.
 

 

"The point", says architect Michi Setter, “was to achieve a perfect balance between an energetic and creative atmosphere on the one hand, and a calm and peaceful working space on the other. These two concepts might sound contradictory, he says, but here again three-dimensional concepts were used.”

The design enables collaborative teamwork and open communication among various teams, and offers spaces suitable for working both alone and in groups. A buffer zone separates a public corridor from an open space. The buffer zone offers quiet work areas, informal collaboration areas and conference rooms – all of which serve as visual and acoustic barriers. “When you free people and let them move between rooms,” says Shirli Zamir, “you also free their minds.”

The reception desk is located on the first of four floors, together with a cafeteria (offering dozens of cereal choices and a variety of organic milk beverages). An entire floor is dedicated to the company’s 3D activity, with a few printers the size of a car. All floors enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city of Tel Aviv and the turquoise Mediterranean Sea.

Originally, corporate headquarters in the United States proposed an open space for all co-workers, but the Israeli branch had different requirements. “We did not want open space,” says Jonathan Seroussi, site manager and head of the AutoCAD mobile team. Israelis are more dynamic and boisterous than their American counterparts, he explains. “We wanted to achieve a working space that allows for relevant communication, so you can’t hear everything that everyone says, only what you really want and need to hear.” Michi Setter says that when he visited India he saw hundreds of co-workers sitting together in a huge open space, yet not a single sound was heard; in Israel, he says, this would be impossible.

The office design won the 2015 Bronze A’Design Award in Italy and the 2015 Ot Haitzuv design award in Israel. Since Autodesk’s products promote sustainable design and manufacturing, it was only natural that great emphasis was placed on sustainable design. The office achieved the highest LEED rating – platinum – for commercial interiors. Recycled materials were used in construction, and the lights and air conditioning turn on when employees enter the rooms and turn off when they leave.

Eitan Tsarfati, head of consumer and 3D printing at the company, says that although Autodesk is now a large, established global company, the Tel Aviv offices retain features from the younger, more rebellious start-up world. “We have colourful graffiti decorating the walls, for example,” he says, “which it is rare to see in corporate offices.

 

 

Sound solutions

  • Bringing dogs to work created a big challenge, since the cement floor could not be carpeted to reduce noise.
  • To reduce noise, multiple Ecophon acoustic surfaces and panels (Ecophon Solo™ and Ecophon Master™ B in the colour Soft Slate) were used in the corridors, above the working areas (hanging from the exposed ceiling) and in conference rooms.
 
 

Text: Adi Schwartz

Photographer: Ahikam Seri

 

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