The Dubai-based interior design studio reimagined this new headquarters inspiring adults to view the world through the lens of a child
Based at Abu Dhabi’s Al Mamoura tower, the newly revamped Early Childhood Authority headquarters conceived by Roar Design, will be home to the 100-strong team of Early Childhood Development experts charged with shaping the future of learning for Abu Dhabi pre-schoolers.
Combining playful and colourful elements with a cutting-edge approach to workspace design, the 1800 sq ft office features colour saturated interiors and bold murals alongside carefully placed designer furnishings from the likes of, among others, Vitra, Driade and Moooi.
“The key challenge was to design a space that captures attention with the playful nature of childhood, while at the same time being a mature office”, comments Pallavi Dean, creative director and founder of Roar.
“We had to keep in mind that we were not designing a space for children – it is a space for adults who are making decisions about children. The outcome is a sophisticated workplace for Early Childhood Development professionals to do their job – from deep, solo work to collaboration – but with a warm, whimsical look and feel.”
With a focus on colour and playful elements, the lobby is designed to spark curiosity with its life-size fluffy monster called ‘Big Blue’. Greeting guests with a welcoming smile, it instantly creates a child-centric atmosphere upon entering the vibrant space. Roar Design paired a bold palette with soft and tactile textures on both the furniture and walls to captivate clients with unexpected colours, combinations and finishes.
Once inside, the design thread is based on the synapses of a child’s brain: a series of hubs connected by organic, flowing walkways. Meeting rooms each have its own unique quality; no two are the same. One has a bespoke felt map of the UAE; another has walls adorned with playful heads of indigenous UAE animals such as an oryx and a gazelle.
Interestingly, the striking colour scheme was developed with a colour psychologist. Orange spaces are said to inspire energy while blues soothe and relax. The eye-catching shades provide a perfect background for the furniture; here, no two chairs, tables or lamps are the same as each one is selected to add the right function and mood for each corner of the ECA workspace.
Playful details are mixed with bright hues and accents to create a whimsical feel. This theme is further carried on in the children’s spaces where little ones can socialise and play. Seeing as many of the ECA staff have young children, a crèche facility was a must-have for the headquarters. Similarly, its maternity room sets a new benchmark for spaces for nursing mothers, with soft textures and reclining furniture.
“The goal was to create a space that was child-focused – but not childish”, shares Pallavi. “With the help of a client who was involved every step of the way, we think we’ve raised the bar for an Early Childhood Development-focussed workspace.”
”Our offices are designed for focussed work but also encourage collaboration. Influenced by elements of our childhood and heritage, it’s a modern, welcoming and inclusive space”, concludes Her Excellency Sana Suhail, director general of ECA. “By featuring ergonomic furniture, a well-equipped Maternity Room, an Imagination Room and a space for our employees’ children, the design has allowed us to reinforce our culture and values and always remember the child in our daily work.”
Images courtesy of Roar Design