Actiu equipped the digital transformation centre that Gazprom Neft has inaugurated in Saint Petersburg. A space of over 8,000 square metres which, in honour of its name, Zifergauz, meaning 'digital house' or 'house of numbers' in Russian, has been designed as a workspace of the future.
With over 300 employees in multifunctional teams from across all Gazprom Neft's business areas, the new centre is located in the historic House 12 building on New Holland Island. A mid-19th century building, originally used to store timber brought to the island for the Admiralty shipyards, it was subsequently converted into a warehouse and used as a textile factory at the end of the 20th century. Part of 'New Holland: Cultural Urbanization', the project to restore and adapt the complex of buildings on the island, House 12 was a three-year project (between 2017 and 2020) that involved recovering the original facades, partitions and vaults.
Overseen by the Moscow-based Russian studio VOX Architects, the project responds to the needs of Gazprom Neft, Russia's fifth largest oil producer and third largest refined oil producer, that sought a high-tech digital space. VOX Architects' architectural proposal coexists with the elements designed by the Russian studio, Ludi Architects (responsible for the corridors, staircases and decorative architectural elements on the façade), and the lighting project led by the English studio, PJC Lights.
Conceived to enhance the continuity between past, present and future, the project combines the architectural legacy of the original historic building with the functionality and avant-garde nature of a futuristic technical centre. It houses laboratories, conference rooms equipped with telescopic bleachers, stages and movable walls, a mobile space for educational projects and a digital art gallery. With its own entrance, the office area includes an open space, co-working areas, meeting rooms, rest and socialising areas, kitchens, canteens and cafeterias.
Within an enclosure of solid brick walls, the architects opted for a combination of surfaces, textures and materials that contrast with pre-existing ones, with glass panels, interactive screens and multi-layered ceiling systems that conceal ventilation systems, visually lightening the interior, resulting in more free space and adding dynamism and creative energy to the space. Blue tones balance the dominant warm red-orange colour of the original brickwork, while elements such as the marine frescoes by artist Andrey Shelyutto or the green islands with three pine trunks, reminiscent of the masts of a ship, evoke the building's past.
To blend in with this futuristic and sensorial environment, the Power individual height-adjustable tables have been customised with a special frosted glass top that incorporates the same degraded pattern as the staircase railing. The cleanliness and visual lightness that characterises the space is transferred to these desks, which incorporate white metal trays for storing cables and maintaining visual cleanliness, and a special support developed by Actiu that prevents the monitors from touching the glass and exerting pressure on it. Under-desk bag hangers under the desks replace the traditional bucks, resulting in more legroom which, in turn, boosts employee comfort.
Flexible and highly versatile, the Talent tables were chosen to enhance the dynamic and functional nature of the new centre. As they are mobile, foldable and height-adjustable, they enable the space to be easily reconfigured according to needs at any given time, and their melamine tabletop incorporates a 0% formaldehyde certification as standard, fostering sustainability and well-being.
The new centre incorporates modern technologies that improve the energy efficiency of the office space, with sensory management systems that reduce water consumption by up to 50% and materials such as recycled aluminium foam and more than 100 tonnes of eco-friendly glass used in the new walls and staircases. Furthermore, as less natural light reaches the interior, it was necessary to design biodynamic lighting with Tunable White technology, which allows light scenes and colour temperature changes to be programmed to foster high productivity throughout the day.
As part of an initiative that Gazprom Neft is developing in Saint Petersburg with the aim of creating an ecosystem of partners from universities, technology companies and start-ups, the new Zifergauz digital transformation centre demonstrates that it is possible to add a strong futuristic twist to a type of architecture that hasn't forgotten its past.
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