The best of both worlds: privacy and openness at a stunning office in 14 East Gzira Tower

Sarah Micallef - 12th August 2019

The views can be enjoyed from anywhere within due to glass partitions, without, crucially, compromising on privacy, thanks to expert acoustic treatments.

An iGaming company located within the new 14 East high-rise in Gzira stands out not least due to the stunning views it showcases, reaching from Sliema and St Julian’s to Manoel Island and Valletta, right on to Mdina.

The views can be enjoyed from anywhere within due to glass partitions, without, crucially, compromising on privacy, thanks to expert acoustic treatments.

Designed by Elisa Fedeli and Edward Coppini from Parallel Architects, Perit Coppini explains how the aesthetic design came to be.

“The client approached us as they were planning to take over the ninth floor,” says Perit Coppini of the impressive office, which comprises half of the ninth floor of the tower. Showing me the plans, he explains that the space was being handed over to their client, an iGaming company, already finished from all services, although design-wise, it was thought out as an entirely open-plan space. “The only set rooms were the bathrooms and server room, which we retained, but the rest was an open space which we needed to modify, in keeping with the client’s needs.”

office design - parallel architects

The whole of the office enjoys fantastic views, with the perimeter of the building itself entirely made of glass. Because of this, Perit Coppini tells me, the outlook was quite an important factor when designing the layout. “The client requested that it not be kept as an open space, so as to accommodate different offices and departments,” he says. Apart from individual offices, the new layout includes a large kitchen area, TV area and coffee station, as well as another two spaces: a formal boardroom for important meetings, and a more casual meeting space in which employees can meet, hang out after work, or have a small event. The office also enjoys a sizeable terrace, which the architects chose to make accessible via this meeting room. “The terrace also had a bearing on how to allocate the spaces – it made sense for the terrace to be used for entertainment, so we linked it with the casual meeting room.”

office design - parallel architects

But, due to the glass perimeter and awkwardly shaped space, the division wasn’t a straightforward one. “The fact that the façade is made of glass means that you are restricted. You don’t have a blank wall; so it was an exercise to calculate divisions according to mullions. The shape of the space was also not straightforward, consisting of a number of triangular shapes, so fitting it in and providing the right space ergonomically for each desk was also a challenge,” he continues, albeit one which the team certainly rose to. “Despite the divisions, we didn’t want to lose the open feel of the space – the fact that you can see all the views as soon as you enter the office,” Perit Coppini explains, leading to the decision to use glazed internal walls.

office design - parallel architects

“Most of the internal walls are glazed, but we needed to juggle privacy at the same time.” In fact, the client’s first request, and Parallel Architects’ primary consideration, was getting the acoustics right. “The first thing we did was rip up and replace the walls between both properties (the walls dividing the two halves of the floor),” he says, explaining that the only solid walls in the tower were the core and columns, with the rest comprising glass and a lightweight gypsum.

office design - parallel architects

“As always, we liaised with a sound engineer, who we brought on board for this project. Once we had the brief from the client and came up with a design of the space, we engaged him to spec up the partitions,” he continues, maintaining that all the partitions within the space are specked so as to have total privacy from one room to the other. The modifications also necessitated the change of services within the ceiling. “Apart from moving the obvious services like ACs and fire sprinklers, we also had to factor in the fresh air ducts which were crossing from one room to the other and, from one office to the next, and which could effectively work as an intercom,” he affirms, so these were replaced and properly insulated, following a simulation of each space by the sound engineer.

This is an excerpt of the interview which featured in the June edition of the Commercial Courier.

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The best of both worlds: privacy and openness at a stunning office at 14 East Gzira Tower