Otago Daily Times
Hall takes RocketWerkz to new level
TECHNO punk music blasts into the allblack void — an unsettling space at the top of the new $1 billion PwC Tower.
Strips of green neon LED tubes zigzag across the floor, walls and ceiling of ‘‘outer space’’, and stepping in here is almost as unnerving as riding New Zealand’s fastest lift (8m travelled per second).
Smoky black glass doors part quietly in the centre to allow entry to a curved cream ‘‘airlock’’, redolent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The ‘‘airlock’’ opens into a much brighter unmanned reception space station, with a 3m x 1m screen showing hitech game scenes made by the business whose offices you have just entered.
A ‘‘town hall’’, or meeting space follows and it is into the full ‘‘space station’’. Only then does the view emerge — east to the Customs St towers, Britomart and the waterfront.
Welcome to the new
$5 million stateoftheart designer fitout by Unispace for video gaming business RocketWerkz, which on Monday shifted from Albert St’s West Plaza to levels 38 and 39 of the Commercial Bay tower.
‘‘It’s like a space station,’’ explains Prada shirtwearing chief executive Dean Hall of the theme.
‘‘We’re not like lawyers or accountants, so the space had to be designed for us. Going to other lobbies in this building — theirs sucked compared to ours.’’
He leads on towards level 38’s northern view, and it is only then the shocking screens emerge: grey, metal, about 1.8m high, running a few metres back from almost the entire length of the floortoceiling glass windows, largely obliterating New Zealand’s newest and most spectacular office view from staff workstations.
‘‘We call this the gallery,’’ Mr Hall says, showing the corridorstyle area between the staff hub and those spectacular windows. Couches will be placed in that gallery for viewhogs.
Then he addresses the elephant in the room.
‘‘I know it seems weird putting screens in but if you look at other floors in this building, tenants have their blinds pulled because it’s just too bright,’’ he explains of the clash of light and the much darker area the video experts need to do their work.
‘‘The metal screens separate workspace from the window so we don’t need to pull blinds down.
‘‘We’re trying to turn all the main lights out and just have LEDs and it will look quite different then.’’
About 60 staff are now working from that central collaborative engineroom hub: concept, animation, art, creative and programming specialists, some exWeta Workshop, others exWorld of Warcraft, many toiling on the new game, Icarus (‘‘like Bear Grylls in space’’, chief operating officer Stephen Knightly says).
Unispace worked with Mr Hall and Mr Knightly on the fitout of levels 38 and 39 of the waterfront tower.
The company has banned staff from bringing friends or family in yet, although an open day is planned for a select few later this month. Nor can staff eat at their desks — ‘‘because we have a canteen with the best view in the word’’, Mr Knightly says.
Mr Hall says the highly
❛ It’s like a space station. We’re not like lawyers or accountants, so the space had to be designed for us. Going to other lobbies in this building — theirs sucked compared to ours RocketWerkz chief executive Dean Hall
securityconscious business ‘‘is careful’’ about what staff plug into their work computers. Couriers deliver tech gear and packages to the tower’s mail centre, not level 38.
‘‘This has to be the highest recording studio in New Zealand — no, Australasia,’’ he says, showing off another feature on level 38 alongside his office, which looks across to the Viaduct area where he lives.
Then it’s up a twoflight set of stairs to a ‘‘secret floor’’ on part of level 39, where a smaller mezzaninestyle area on the western corner could take more offices. Mr Hall pulls back cupboard doors to show off a fully fitted kitchen, ‘‘because I don’t like eating food I haven’t cooked myself’’.
Although Covid19 delayed the shift by about four months, staff packed last week and were given a fullypaid holiday on Friday — ‘‘we called it RocketWerkz day’’— to enable a smooth move.
‘‘Our job is to think five years ahead,’’ Mr Hall says of the vision for the offices and how the work translates into the unusual fitout.
Mr Hall and Mr Knightly thanked Unispace lead designer Harry Rowntree, Precinct Properties asset manager Peter Bowden and Bayleys staff for their involvement in the leasing, design and fitout.
But they will not say how much rent was for the initial sixyear term — ‘‘but it’s highly competitive’’, Mr Hall says of the lease, which comes with only two car parking spaces.
Mr Hall is not yet finished: he wants to rip ceiling panels from the engine room hub to expose services, and says once the drycleaners have returned his Prada suit, he will wear that to show changes to the new offices. — The New Zealand Herald