When FTI—a public law foundation that works in real-estate asset management— came to us, it was tackling a radically changing market and was in the process of redefining its work philosophy. Our challenge was to design FTI’s new central office to reflect this transformation, creating a more modern and transparent space that appealed to visitors and employees alike.
We created a new headquarters for FTI that not only improved the visitor experience but also developed a more connected working environment. Stakeholders now instantly feel more welcome thanks to a more inviting and elegant atmosphere. Our reimagining of their working and common areas has provided FTI’s team with a more collaborative and project-based workplace.
A changing landscape
Fondation pour les Terrains industriels, or FTI, is a Swiss public law foundation that manages industrial zones and has been operating out of Geneva for decades. The company’s clientele has drastically changed over the last 20 years. In the past, FTI has primarily dealt with artisanal workshops and the manufacturing “blue collar” industry. Recently, there has been a significant increase in business from tech, digital and luxury sector organisations, as well as blue chip firms.
To keep up with these external shifts in the market, new management at FTI decided to adopt an innovative working philosophy that encourages interdepartmental collaboration, modern work processes and a more horizontal approach.
In order to maximise the engagement of employees and manage the workplace transformation in the most constructive way possible, we involved a representative group of FTI collaborators in a co-design process. Thanks to this approach, the solutions we came up with were pertinent, efficient and well appropriated by the end users.
Ideation & Design
A strategic design approach
To construct the ideal headquarters for the new FTI, we based our strategy on two pillars: a new workspace and an enhanced visitor experience. We wanted to create an environment that inspired trust and transparency for stakeholders.
We conceptualised a modern space that would reinforce an overall sense of togetherness and unity for employees, while also feeling warm and inviting to visitors. By placing this approach at the forefront of our design process, we were able to build an open environment that encourages teams across different departments to work together.
We applied this transversal idea to a strategic proposal, seeking to modernise the workplace and make it compatible with the essence and direction of the organisation.
Integrating FTI’s identity into a fluid spatial design
We placed FTI’s historic company archives at the core of the new headquarters. 80 years of lease contracts now line the shelves of the main hall, surrounded by the common areas, work spaces and meeting rooms. These archives are both pragmatic and symbolic: placing them in a central space physically brings all the teams together; but they also represent FTI’s tenants’ symbolic position at the heart of the organisation.
Shaping an ideal space for employees and visitors
Our FTI office design made use of clean, sober lines, accentuated by optimistic natural light, warm materials such as natural wood and the controlled, elegant use of colour. We also developed a unique wayfinding system that applied colour highlights to the different FTI teams.
We created highly functional working spaces by equipping rooms with the technology and tools necessary to encourage dynamic cooperation. We also carefully selected the furniture to echo the elegant and professional tone we were looking for.
The main project room is a quintessential reflection of all elements of our design strategy. Here, we crafted an ecosystem that strengthens teamwork initiatives and makes individuals feel welcome. While sitting around the large oakwood table in the centre of the room, visitors and employees enjoy spectacular views of Geneva’s old city and the Alps.
Enriching the visitor experience
Throughout our design process, it was evident that our goal to build an enriched visitor experience would require us to intervene in every space. We opted for a sequence that would clearly express our overall vision across FTI’s new headquarters, from the reception and waiting area to the formal meeting spaces and team offices. At every point of contact, we made sure to promote a friendly and approachable environment through the use of strategic colour and lighting design.
Recreating FTI’s working culture
The key to our design strategy was based on changing the mindset of FTI’s entire organisation; the way people feel and relate to each other in the new workspace is now more in line with a modern, transparent, welcoming and collaborative culture. The visitor experience has been greatly enhanced, starting the moment you step out of the lift. And the placement of the archives at the core of the new headquarters has brought the different departments together, encouraging a more connected and open work environment.
Our co-design approach resonated not only during the project development process, and now FTI collaborators apply some of our user-centred design principles in their daily activity with clients