The Challenge

When Judy Sander first contacted us back in 2017 for some assistance with re-thinking the workspace for the NWO Innovation Centre, we jumped at the opportunity. The existing Greenstone Building had a very “old school” layout and we knew that it could make it into a more imaginative space for entrepreneurs if the existing walls were to come down and the overall space opened up.

The major challenges with the space when we started the project were: 

  • a lack of access to natural light throughout
  • limitations on collaboration due to existing walls breaking up the space
  • staff were working in individual offices and were not accessible
  • there were not enough meeting and group spaces
  • the reception space was not functioning properly
  • the space was just not very inspiring

After working with Judy and the NWOIC team to identify these issues, we knew that we needed to re-think the entire space – we had to start from scratch. OMI put together a number of design considerations that we felt would help us create a space that would inspire young entrepreneurs, stimulate their growth and drive innovation and our mission began.

The Concept

We knew that the target demographic for the Innovation Centre’s entrepreneur programs were young and looking for a unique work experience. They wanted a comfortable work space that feels more like home. They wanted to be connected at all times, to be empowered to work where and how felt right for them and to be creative through collaborating with others. 

By removing the original walls from the floor plan and starting with a clean slate, we were able to start to create a space that addressed these needs. We created concepts within the new plan such as “Idea Alley”, “the Launch Pad” and “Productivity Pods” which would enhance the work experience for both clients of the Innovation as well as the staff working with them. 

By allowing natural light to pour into the space, providing choice for clients to decide how to use the space, while promoting collaboration, communication and learning would all offer a much more rewarding work experience. By simply adding glass walls to bring in natural light and visibility, using bright colours to inspire and add interest, and offering multiple places to meet and share ideas to increase collaboration and learning, we were able to transform the existing static space into a place where great minds come to share and grow.

The Outcome

We believe that the new design of the NWO Innovation space meets all of the goals and answers all of the needs of their team. In our new layout, we were able to achieve:

  • more meeting rooms and closed pods to work and meet in
  • visible reception with space for networking before and after events/meeting
  • boardroom is more usable space – can be divided into 2 meeting rooms when hosting a workshop etc. 
  • clients have many options for where and how they want to work – closed space, open spaces, casual spaces, areas for quiet individual work and areas for collaborative group meetings
  • the café area is now open and accessible by all
  • the staff area is open and collaborative with access to common files and meeting areas
  • the interior spaces we have created are moveable and flexible so the space and be changed as your needs change

The NWO Innovation space is now an inspiring, active, functional space for staff and clients. It works well for hosting workshops and events while still providing spaces for heads down work. It is colourful and vibrant and is a great reflection of those who use this space!

In 2017 we began discussions with Open Mind Interiors about revitalizing our space at Confederation College. It was great timing with the College attaching the new TecHub to our building.
From the beginning OMI understood what we were trying to achieve. Our space at that time was not built for our use. One of the key challenges the space was that the Innovation Centre team members were separated from each other making communication and collaboration difficult.
A second major challenge was that the layout did not allow for us to accommodate early stage businesses not to mention creating an open, welcoming and connected environment.
The last issue was our need for flexible space that could respond to requirements for training, confidential meetings, and large and small events.
Not only did OMI help address these big concerns but they worked with our team to identify work habits, storage requirements, and questions about working in an open space etc. Their approach was critical in managing the significant change to the work environment that was occurring.
We also took into consideration the needs of our client companies and other stakeholder users to ensure we had capacity for meeting rooms, breakout areas and flexible event/learning space.
After completion we are completely satisfied with an environment that reflects innovation and open collaboration, but also provides a practical, healthy, efficient and inspiring place to work, meet and excel. Not to mention that it is attractive, fun, and has a wow factor!