The offices of Medicare Portugal in Lisbon represent the largest project developed by RIMA Design so far in the field of corporate spaces. This relationship began several years ago, specifically in 2018 when we designed a call center office floor for Medicare. Thanks to this initial project, we got to know the company, its teams, and dynamics better. These insights were crucial in presenting a higher-quality project that met all the client’s needs for the new building.
To design a space, whether it’s offices, residences, or commercial environments, it’s essential to start by identifying the needs and goals of the space. This survey is part of the initial study at the studio and is fundamental to creating a functional, well-designed, harmonious space with innovative solutions.
Our initial analysis primarily focused on two points:
- Size and distribution of teams:
For effective and intelligent space organization, it’s crucial to know the number of people who will be using it and in what capacity. In a six-story office, the organization of each floor will be directly influenced by the size and behavior of the teams using it.
- Dynamics, habits, and work methods:
After determining the size and distribution of teams within the office, it’s essential to observe the practices and routines of people in various departments. Each team has its habits and dynamics, stemming from their roles, schedules, and work methods, which are closely linked to their needs.
Gathering information about users and their needs is crucial in designing the project. Our creativity is most valuable when it generates solutions to the problems encountered. Therefore, our observations regarding Medicare employees’ habits included important questions such as: Do they spend a lot of time on the phone? How much desk space do they need? How much time do they spend in meetings compared to individual work? All of these questions are essential for designing the space and will guide us in making the right choices in terms of acoustics, visual elements, and spatial layout.
We began with a general analysis: most floors had several partitions, some with glass, which we chose to remove. Knowing the company’s culture, we understood that Medicare is a modern team that, despite various dynamics, would thrive in an open space environment. Therefore, we preferred to define different zones using furniture and decoration. The partitions are now softer and more intuitive, made with cabinets and shelves that define resident, nomad, or break zones. The colours and decoration also change in the different areas, subtly indicating to the space users what kind of zone they are in.
For the specific organization of each floor, we took into account the functions, dynamics, and habits of each department. Storage, for example, was one of the company’s significant needs. Each function has its habits and unique needs, but at the same time, each employee has individual needs that must also be considered. We realized that some people needed specific individual storage for personal belongings, and it was also important to consider storage solutions for each department to store office supplies and other items. For instance, call center teams are rotational and work with non-fixed workstations, so they require less storage space and desk space, as their workspace is mainly limited to the monitor. o address the need for personal storage, we installed support lockers that efficiently and securely met this need. The marketing team had a completely different dynamic and needed a resident area with more space, along with flexible meeting areas. So, the space was designed with a completely different environment. In this department, we opted for larger desks and nomadic areas that allowed for different postures and promoted collaboration. This includes two modular sofa zones in this area, as well as acoustic booths.
Due to the large size of the teams and their different dynamics, we considered it important to create various types of meeting rooms. While, for certain departments, formal meeting rooms made more sense, the needs of other teams were entirely different, and the traditional model did not fit their activities. For this reason, the new layout incorporates different multi-purpose spaces for various types of meetings, from formal to quick meetings with fewer participants.
Like other spaces, the kitchens also needed a complete redesign. Previously installed inside cabinets, they were dysfunctional and difficult to access, making employees’ breaks more challenging. The solution was to create a spacious, bright, and more enjoyable area with storage cabinets, a wooden table, high benches, and all necessary appliances to provide more pleasant break moments.
Acoustics, Lighting, and Privacy
Acoustics, lighting, and privacy were crucial in the design of this space. In call center areas, soundproofing was essential, so the walls were reinforced with specific coatings, and the screens on the tables consist of layers of fabric and acoustic foam. In these areas, we also placed white acoustic panels on the ceiling in a more discreet version, as the wall panels were intended to bring more life to the rooms and were quite decorative. On one wall, we went even further and combined acoustic coating with green elements in a large panel with a vertical garden that was reused from the previous office.
Although the teams on the third and fourth floors have entirely different needs, acoustics were not overlooked. While these floors are quieter, being open spaces and considering team routines, ensuring acoustic comfort for everyone was important. We used original and colorful designs, just like in the call center floors, to ensure a unique visual identity throughout the entire building.
Teams on the third and fourth floors have more varied needs in terms of individual work and collaboration. Therefore, at the desks, we opted for front screens hat contribute to acoustic comfort and provide privacy during individual work while also facilitating interaction and collaboration.
Balancing collaboration, privacy, and individual concentration is essential and must be well-planned in modern teams, especially when working in open spaces. Equipping the space with acoustic booths helped create private areas that do not disturb residents’ work while dividing the open space into team, collaboration, lounge, or break zones.
Lighting is essential in any environment, and in offices, it’s a critical factor that affects employees’ performance. Besides aesthetics, factors like glare and minimum lux levels for each workstation should be considered. After lighting studies, we chose matte black spotlight fixtures and spherical pendant lights in passageways and meeting areas to distinguish resident zones from collaboration zones. These two types of lighting, though different, complement each other. While spotlights add an industrial touch to the space, the spherical lights balance the environment with their fluid and clean design. The result is effective lighting that is also soft and harmonious, seamlessly blending with the decor.
Materials, Colours, and Visual Choices
In office projects, it’s essential to consider how spaces reflect not only the company’s image but also its culture. To improve the work environment, motivation, productivity, and engagement of its employees, Medicare wanted to innovate in its offices by creating flexible work zones, moving away from the traditional model to offer better conditions to its teams.
One of the client’s requests was to have a colorful and cheerful office. To maintain a harmonious atmosphere and elegant decor, we worked with not only vibrant and complementary colors to the brand’s strong red but also more neutral elements that helped balance the space visually.
In terms of materials, we emphasise the fundamental furniture, such as tables and chairs, where we prioritized ergonomics and comfort. All chairs are adjustable, and all furniture pieces are washable. The tabletops are extremely resistant to wear and tear and heat from devices, maintaining a stable temperature, with rounded edges for added comfort. In this regard, we had the support of our partner, Steelcase, with over 100 years of experience in office furniture.
For other furniture, we opted for natural and noble woods like oak, using both solid wood and natural wood veneer. The use of wood makes the environment more welcoming, and being a neutral element, it contributes to visual harmony.
Regarding fabrics, we carefully chose the same materials for all furniture, even for custom-made pieces. We prioritized their appearance, texture, and finish, preferring blended fabrics for their natural touch, which facilitates coordination with the bolder colors present in the decor. Technically, we selected fire-resistant, highly abrasion-resistant, washable fabrics with liquid-repellent treatment for increased durability.
The acoustic coverings used in this project may be a novelty for some. All panels are from Goma, a new, Portuguese, and sustainable brand that produces original, ecological coverings, allowing for endless combinations. This is a project that we applaud and support, not only for the originality of the pieces but also for the sustainable concept behind their production.
Finally, as expected, we placed natural plants on all floors to bring more life to the office. Aside from contributing to decor harmonization, the benefits of plants in work environments go beyond aesthetics. As well as improving air quality, plants can increase creativity levels, improve mood and reduce stress. They improve air quality, enhance creativity, elevate mood, reduce stress, and increase concentration and productivity. They also create a sense of connection with nature, which is essential for our well-being.
This was a highly challenging project that stimulated our creativity, logical thinking, and technical skills. With the aim of creating a workplace guided by the comfort of its employees, we have once again designed a project where the well-being of people is a priority. To achieve the best results in terms of design, functionality, and comfort, it is essential to understand the return on the choices made in the design of an office. Therefore, all decisions must be made consciously, following a thorough analysis of the space’s needs and its users.
Although we are still finishing two of the six floors of this office, we are very pleased with the final result, and we hope to have equally challenging projects to show you very soon! You can check out all our office projects here.