OurHouse.com re-invented Ace Hardware, the largest association of local hardware stores, by constructing an e-commerce neighborhood of home improvement. They called for similarly innovative offices for their national headquarters. An open landscape of workstations is interlaced with ‘program chutes’ of an differing flavors, organized, identified and connected by ordinary materials: acoustical tile; aluminum flashing; and wood, which could be found in any local hardware store or on the company’s website.
The private offices are completely wrapped in ceiling tile, the reception and support spaces are sheathed in wood, and conference rooms have aluminum ceilings walls, and floors. Translucent plastic panels create walls between offices and conference rooms that maximize light in work areas and can be used by staff as marker boards. Bright orange and blue floor coverings add to the energy of the space. The importance of dynamics and flexibility were also articulated in the use of airplane hanger doors along the side wall of the main conference room, which were designed to open into the reception area to create a central meeting space.
The intensity to connect different program areas is drawn from the continuity of surfaces in each chute, where both walls and ceilings – and in some cases, floors – are composed of the same material, either wood or aluminum or ceiling tile. The architecture reinforces OurHouse.com’s business practices, creatively dissolving real world interruptions and turbulence into a seamless system of virtual connections.
Photography © Barbara Karant