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Whaiora Whanui Trust – Open Plan Office Design

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Through colour and design, Whaiora Whanui Trust, was transformed.  The floorspace reconfigured, creating a professional and welcoming Reception, Medical Practice and Administration facilities.  Two doctors, an emergency room, two nursing rooms, and associated administrative and file facilities.  Management offices were relocated to the open plan area, glass sliding doors, frosted glass above for light transfer.  Throughout, the private/public spaces bright colours, photography and artwork were utilised to inspire and to motivate, staff and visitors.


Robyn De La Haye and Steve Chamberlain, were commissioned by Whaiora Whanui Trust in 2009, to redesign the Reception and existing Open Plan offices.  Originally, the existing Reception area was in the open plan foyer, constituting a standard desk, mismatched visitor chairs.  Security, isolation and heating for the Receptionist were a major issue. 

The Open Plan offices, had desks scattered haphazardly, electric cables taped on the carpet, with people fighting for territory.  10 to 20 staff could be on phones talking and with concrete block walls on two sides, this caused sound to reverberate.  The dark sombre colour palette of dark red and navy, along with the acoustics created a dismal atmosphere.

The Management team were situated in small windowless offices, on the Eastern side of the building, with no visual supervision of staff.  There was a distinct ‘Us and Them’ mentality, staff morale was very low.

Keeping costs within budget

Budget constraints a major factor, we recycled as much as possible, including the carpet and furniture.  Careful planning and redesign of the interior, plus addressing the acoustic issues created a modern efficient Office facility.

In 2010 with minimal disruption to staff, we designed and constructed an onsite high quality Medical Practice, specifically for Masterton Maori and Pacific Island people, and others who find access or costs difficult to afford.  We developed the Facility, by detailed discussions, and redesign of existing spaces. 


A highly professional interior design

The final design is highly professional, yet welcoming to the clientele.  Through discussion, my paua necklace became core of the design; gentle curves, protective shell, oval egg shape, representing new beginnings.  The clients developed their paua logo and the shell inspired the colour palette greens, blues, and mauves. 

Open plan offices for a friendlier environment

We designed a rear fire escape and second entrance, glass auto sliding doors and ramp as an alternative for use in southerly winds.  The Reception was relocated, utilising curved bulkhead, and coloured glass frontage, reflecting the curve and hard shell of the paua. The curved form directs patients to the waiting area.  Management offices relocated to the open plan area, with glass sliding doors, frosted glass above to provide light transfer. These Offices positioned for transparency; breaking down barriers between Staff and Management. 

Through colour and design, the Open Plan area was transformed. Culturally staff did not like compartmentalisation, rather sharing ideas, interacting with one another.  Screens used only to define space, to encourage personalisation of space.  Acoustic ceiling and wall panels were utilised, soaking up sound.  The paua palette enhanced and energised.

Inspiring visual features

The floorspace was reconfigured, creating a professional and welcoming Medical Practice.  Purpose built facility with 2 doctors, an emergency room, 2 nursing rooms, and associated administrative and file facilities. Curved walls and natural light from above to welcome and soften the space, and added a whimsical play area for the children.  Throughout, the private/public spaces photography and artwork were utilised to inspire and motivate those who visit the facilities.


Steve Chamberlain – Management Consultant

John Hudson/Eddy Saul – Fire Engineers

SQC Homes – Builder Stage 1

Dougan Services – Builder Stage 2