‘Le Garage’ has been created to encourage new ways of working. Our team transformed an under-utilised building located within the wider Airbus Headquarters campus at Toulouse Blagnac, into a new workplace designed to help research and technology specialists expedite solutions: rapidly facilitating problem-solving in a concurrent rather than linear way.
The design of Le Garage, comprises a central collaboration space: a hub supporting the various ‘project garages’ surrounding within the wider space – from concurrent on-screen technology development - where specialists work together on software capable of speeding-up design decisions and virtual prototypes - to more hands-on physical modelling and prototyping workshop spaces for new technologies.
There are offices for full-time staff but also large and small areas housing different sized project teams as well as an area filled with the latest digital technology dedicated to computer-aided design. This latter area is called the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF), a state-of-the-art space equipped with a network of computers, multimedia devices and software tools.
The CDF allows teams of experts from different disciplines to work collaboratively on design studies using concurrent engineering methodology for complex engineering systems.
“Instead of communicating across the large campus, the new spaces are designed to be booked out for periods of time for new innovations so they can be developed faster and with concentrated team collaboration,” explained Max Lishmund. “These agile spaces need to adapt quickly depending on the project requirements and the unique process the teams need to undergo in order to discover solutions.
We worked directly with the Chief Technology Officer for Airbus, who referred to the space affectionately as ‘Le Garage’ early-on in the design briefing: the idea being that the concept of ‘project garages’ would take hold as designated zones for concurrent design within the wider Airbus campus.
“There has been a general evolution as to what is considered a state-of-the-art collaborative workspace that promotes the kind of values modern tech companies such as ours embrace: notably collaboration, openness, and speed,” says Airbus’ Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Paul Eremenko. “Our intention with Le Garage is to immerse our tech talent in a flexible, dynamic, open space that breaks down silos and hierarchical notions of seniority.”
The project garages are flexible and have the capability to adapt from desk based workspaces into physical workshop spaces. The wider agile space consists of varying open plan work zones – both dedicated and unassigned – town hall seating areas with writeable wall surfaces and integrated TV screens, smaller meeting and quiet rooms for touch down or focused work, as well as a boardroom for larger conferencing. The spaces are also supported by two tea points and collaborative break out areas.
The aesthetic of the workplace design supports the notion of the garage environment: design meets engineering. Blending an industrial feel with angular joinery and modular furniture, the space is also wrapped in dark timber, highlighted by vibrant colour and pendant lighting selections. Lighting layout also enhances various zones within the space to echo the angular theme.
The state-of-the-art building will accommodate more than 130 staff, including specialists in areas such as data science, applied mathematics, and electro-magnetics. There is also space for 40 visiting specialists from universities, start-ups and suppliers to Airbus.