SJK Architects breaks away from traditional formality for Penguin Random House’s India Headquarters.
Penguin Random House, a globally renowned publication house with a rich history spanning close to a century, is dedicated to encouraging a universal passion for reading by creating books for everyone. With an impressive annual publication of up to 70,000 digital and 15,000 print titles, the company holds a special place in the hearts of readers worldwide.
Designed by SJK Architects, Penguin Random House India’s new office headquarters in Gurugram responds to the evolving landscape of work environments. With the company’s transition from an office-first work model to a hybrid one, the design creates a post-pandemic workspace that encourages meaningful exchange and collaboration.
Cultivating a Collaborative and Inspiring Work Environment for Storytelling
Three common clusters (Courtyards), connected by passageways (Streets), form the social heart of the office. These clusters offer diverse seating options, facilitate varied ways of working, be it individually, in small groups, and in large groups. The central cluster, which marks the entrance to the office, and the eastern cluster, resemble living rooms for storytellers, featuring a mix of lounge and round-table seating. The western cluster, on the other hand, houses a coffee bar and has an amphitheater for large team catch-ups.
Meeting rooms, cabins, and workstations for individual use are strategically arranged around these clusters to create a welcoming atmosphere. Terrace seating along the corridor acts as a public seating accommodating two people in each pod and transforms the large corridor into a meandering street with humble proportions. All these areas receive ample natural light from the north, east, and west. While primarily serving as individual and/or formal workspaces for creative and non-creative teams, the workspaces break away from traditional formality as the smaller cabins can be adapted into meeting rooms when needed.
These versatile spaces enable the users to choose their preferred settings for various activities, whether it’s a casual catch-up over coffee, a relaxed conversation with authors, or a focused work session. The result is an environment that encourages users to personalize their workspace, fostering a conducive atmosphere for creative productivity.
SJK Architects worked closely with the Penguin Random House team to develop a brief that reflected their requirements for this office – the Gurugram office marks the company’s shift from a 13000 sq. ft. office to a ~ 6000 sq. ft. office, along with the transition from an office-first work model to a hybrid work model.
The design process began with a thorough understanding of the new way in which the team planned to use the office. Of their 150-strong workforce, only a few teams such as finance, legal, and IT, would be working from the office daily. The creative teams would be having a maximum of 3 work-from-office days.
The design evolved out of these requirements for spaces that would adapt to a changing number of users – this is why the cabins were designed so that they could be reconfigured as meeting rooms for the creative teams, and the courtyards which would facilitate multiple functions at once. After addressing these concerns, the design process involved getting into the finer details, such as materials, finishes, and thematic artworks that define the visual language of the project.
The heart of the design for the office for Penguin Random House lies in the seamless layout that metamorphoses into offering multiple workspace options within the same space, creating an office that is truly collaborative in spirit and design.
The brand’s identity is woven into the workspace subtly through various design gestures. A restrained material and color palette is used, featuring white and gray hues as finishes on the floors and walls. The architects worked with the Penguin Random House team to strategically locate thematic artwork, such as framed book jackets, throughout the office to add glimpses of the brand’s heritage and build a sense of belonging. The artwork and dispersed green pockets add a sense of vibrancy to the otherwise muted color palette.
Rather than integrating the company’s name and logo plainly, the architects designed a handcrafted cement screen, resembling books to subtly incorporate the brand identity into the spaces. Featuring penguin-shaped motifs engraved into its central row, the screen forms the backdrop to the reception, serving as the ideal entrance to the creative and collaborative office space of a company that is in the business of books.
Technical Lighting: Abby Lighting
Decorative Lighting: Orient Lites
Shimul Javeri Kadri