A one-of-a-kind facility in Australasia, Genton’s design for the Ford Asia Pacific Product Development Centre project — delivered in collaboration with Cachet Group — fuses the client’s requirements for abundant natural light and privacy, delivering a minimal, state-of-the-art sanctuary designed to inspire creative thinking.
“This project was unique in that each of the spaces had to be suitable for both human and vehicle scale, allowing for easy movement of the cars through the spaces while staff work in and around those spaces,” says Genton Principal Marc Debney.
A space where cars are designed from concept to prototype, Genton’s approach to the project was informed by museum design philosophy: creating spaces that complement, rather than compete with the creative processes.
“As the cornerstone of Ford’s Asia Pacific design operations, the Ford Australian Design Centre is not only fundamental in facilitating our innovative automotive design, but also to attracting the strong talent that we need to achieve this,” says Ford Asia-Pacific Design Director Max Wolff.
“We design a number of different vehicles in Ford’s Australia Design Centre, and when you see our studio and the vehicles we’ve designed it in, the link between the space we work in and the end product is very clear. The aesthetic of our vehicles is modern, versatile, tough and, of course, beautiful – which is just what the studio is.”
With the addition of 100 workstations, an extended clay modelling workshop where full-scale models can be made, and a new five axis gantry milling centre, the 2,300m2 expansion provides flexible and functional facilities that optimise the capacity of the design office, while breakout spaces and shared amenities promote interaction and collaboration between departments.
“This space is about creating opportunities for staff to collaborate and innovate beyond the traditional fixed work point, enabling them to flourish creatively and do their best work,” says Mark Turek of Cachet Group, Ford’s design and build partner for the last five years.
Filtering light through high level translucent glazing on the exterior walls, the bright innovation space simultaneously feels open and highly secure, with frittered glass selected to enhance privacy and reduce solar gain. A clean, contemporary external facade mirrors the materiality of the interior without indicating the highly confidential operations within.
With natural light as an important part of the design and prototyping process, Genton designed a 1,100 m2 internal courtyard where vehicles can be privately viewed outdoors, with robust dark cladding on the internal walls reinforcing the sense of privacy. The internal courtyard has the added benefit of permitting outward views without letting the public see inside.
“In contrast to our approach to civic projects, this design is internally-facing and focuses on the human experience. Consistent with our approach to technical buildings, this design complies with specialist requirements, but is inherently focused on those who occupy the space,” explains Debney.
The largest single Ford Design Studio outside North America, Genton’s Ford Asia Pacific Product Development Centre project provides a light-filled industrial space to support the design, research and innovation processes, and demonstrates the value Ford places in Australian design within its own team and beyond.
For more information and images, please see the project page.