UNStudio has designed a new building for the St. Petersburg office of the international software development company JetBrains and has transformed their current premises into a modern immersive campus environment. With 9 offices already located in Europe, the U.S. and Russia, the new building will help the St. Petersburg office attract unique talent by expressing its distinct identity to its workforce.
The JetBrains campus is intended to be a place of true connectivity and openness, which fully engages people and enhances their everyday lives. It is designed to as a place to meet, discuss, mediate and propose creative ideas while taking in views of the spectacular Gulf of Finland.
In addition to providing efficient and flexible workspace for the organisation, the JetBrains campus creates a sense of belonging to its occupants – not just to the industry, but also to the community and the city of St. Petersburg.
Ben van Berkel said:
“JetBrains is a highly innovative company. They are ambitious, possess a deep understanding of their workforce and have a very contemporary approach to the future of work. This meant that we were able to bring everything that we have learned from designing contemporary work spaces to this design and could create a warm, green, transparent, open and inviting office that stimulates total interaction.”
Connective, Comfortable, Versatile
Over the years, UNStudio has built up an extensive portfolio of office buildings and workspace designs. This has provided us with a deep understanding of what is required of the optimal work environment and the positive impact such spaces can have on the health, wellbeing, creativity – and therefore productivity – of those using them. Within the design of such spaces, both physical vitality and psychological wellbeing are understood to be synonymous, while the creation of community is considered fundamental to the encouragement of communication, interaction, knowledge exchange and creativity.
The design of the new building focuses on the comfort and wellbeing of every person who works there and of those who simply pass through. The campus has been designed in full detail, including JetBrains’ specific approach to work culture, which led to custom made healthy work stations for all 1,000 newly housed employees.
Central to the design is the large, vertically stepped, indoor atrium. This generous open space, which connects to an outdoor courtyard and outdoor terraces, simultaneously provides clear and expansive views of the Gulf of Finland.
The atrium forms the core of the new JetBrains community, as it creates the conditions for physical, mental, social and environmental health. This ample open space contrast to the office floors, which are based on team and individual focus, rather than an open-plan approach.
Central meeting rooms, breakout spaces, auditoriums and the central restaurant are all organised along the stepped atrium. Bridges span the large open areas, while carefully designed and intertwined biophilia forms the natural backdrop for all activities.
Ben van Berkel said:
“We pay a great deal of attention to how people move through buildings. Office spaces are designed in such a way that they do not create simple linear corridors leading to dead ends, instead each corridor has a route that introduces a kind of landscape into the building. The possibility is created to take endless walks through the building, where there is a great deal of transparency, also towards the surrounding landscape.”
Acting as a vestibule, the imposing lobby creates the first views towards the atrium, while providing cloakroom facilities, showers and exercise spaces.
The courtyard on the podium level provides an intimate outdoor overflow space that is embraced by an active gallery connected to the existing office buildings. In UNStudio’s proposal the galleries are used as an orangery/winter garden for outdoor plants, which can then be placed outdoors in the Summer months.
The facade design embraces a sustainable approach, blocking heat gain while providing daylight. For the large atrium, a highly transparent stable zigzag glazed facade was chosen, at times spanning five floors.
In addition to a soft acoustic shading device on the inside of the glazed skin, cantilevers shade the facade. The lower and upper volumes use a rational grid facade, composed of unitised elements. Protruding glazed ceramic elements provide shading, reflect light, and create a tactility and reflection that will play with the constantly changing light of the skies over St. Petersburg and the Gulf.