Arkwright office by Haptic features slatted
staircase emulating rock formations


London studio Haptic references eroded granite rock formations commonly found around the Norwegian coastline with the curving form of this layered timber staircase, created for an office interior in Oslo.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Strategy and corporate finance firm Arkwright asked Haptic to design the interior of its new offices, which are located in a converted harbour warehouse in Oslo's Aker Brygge area.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Upon entering the offices on the upper floor, staff and visitors are confronted with a monolithic reception desk made from stained black timber slats.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Behind the desk, the wooden strips become more spaced out, creating curving walls that surround a back office and transition into the wall behind the staircase.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

"The design is inspired by svabergs - large granite stone formations that are typical for the area - rounded and polished by icebergs thousands of years ago," the architects described.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

The staircase descends to a lounge area and incorporates widened treads that offer spaces for casual seating.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Furniture scattered around this space includes tables with organically shaped surfaces and sofas with layered backrests that echo the form of the stairs.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Skylights and an original arched window overlooking the harbour fill the white-walled lounge with natural light.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Haptic created a variety of different environments for working and relaxing throughout the offices, including a James Bond-themed executive lounge.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Located in a windowless space in the middle of the lower level, the room features wood-panelled walls and leather furniture intended to create an intimate and sophisticated feel.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

A bookcase built into one of the walls is also a secret door that pivots to connect the room with the corridor outside.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Televisions built into two of the walls can be viewed from the sofa in the lounge space or from a long conference table, while one of the other walls contains a bar and fridge.

Arkwright offices by Haptic

Photography is by Inger Marie Grini.

The following details were provided by Haptic:

Arkwright offices, Oslo

Arkwright is a European consultancy that specialise in strategic advice. A new office space has been created for 40-50 employees, including workspaces, reception and back office, kitchen canteen, meeting rooms, breakout space and a "James Bond" room. The office is located in the prime harbour front location of Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway, in an old converted warehouse building with a large arched window as its centrepiece.

The office is entered on the top floor. A new reception "sculpture" incorporates back offices, reception desk and a large stair/amphitheatre that straddles a double height space. The design is inspired by "svabergs", large granite stone formations that are typical for the area, rounded and polished by icebergs thousands of years ago.

Office floor plan of Arkwright offices by Haptic
Floor plan - click for larger image

Special effort has been made to create a variety of spaces within the offices, incorporating green walls, double height spaces, and a special "James Bond" room.

The "James Bond" room is a windowless bunker-like space, sitting deep in the building - a difficult space to work with. This seemingly unpromising space has been transformed into an executive lounge for quiet contemplation, creating a private, intimate and calming atmosphere.

Project: Arkwright – Aker Brygge, Oslo
Typology: Office Fit out
Client: Arkwright/NPRO
Year of Construction: 2013-2014
Architect: Haptic Architects
Team: Nikki Butenschøn, Anthony Williams

  • Tzaar

    Can we please have a discussion about the merits of handrails and the functional design of circulation?

    If your crazy house in Japan has no handrails or guards to speak of, fine. It is in the confines of your own home, so, so be it. But in a public building? and half-open risers that are an obvious tripping hazard? and in all black so that you can’t really tell where the edge of the riser is?

    Haptic, you have put your own needs ahead of your users and you should be aware of this. Great photo. Terrible stair.

    Now, architects: get your head out of your perfectly rhino’d behinds and start designing for human beings. This IS cool looking, but ultimately irresponsible. Even if you don’t have specific codes to mandate universal design features, we do have standards of practice as professionals. If you can’t make something cool while still following the rules, then you’re not as good as you think you are.

    • jos

      This one still has a little too much handrail for me, though.

      • Corpho

        I just see bleachers and cyclone fencing. Maybe they can hire a hot dog cart for something to eat with the scotch.

    • Gproud

      Mate, it’s clearly not a public building, it’s a private office. You also have a very twisted view of how architects work if you think they dictate the functionality of what the client is paying for.

      Frankly if someone can’t manage a staircase then I’d let natural selection take it’s course.

      • Redfern

        Gproud, it’s a bit different from a private house. It is a place of work and the employees most likely didn’t have a say in the stair design, so it should comply with a higher standard.

      • jmt

        Well, architects do dictate (design?) the functionality of the building. In this case, obviously that inner void space on the riser was dictated by the architect which then the client will catch their foot and bash their faces. Also, many people have difficulty with stairs, and this thing is impossible for many, especially blind people.

    • Nikolai

      I agree totally with you, Tzaar. Architects should really focus more on universal design. That being said, I’m Norwegian, and know the strict laws and regulations of stairs and universal design, and if this is (most probable in this case) a secondary staircase, less rules apply, and more sculptural elements are therefore accepted. When it comes to handrails in secondary staircases, they only need to be one height, and where the height/drop is more than 500mm. The stair turning into an amphitheater then allows for single sided handrails. But hey, I might be mistaken.

  • house maid

    Ah just imagine, the pain of dusting and removing rubbish from the gaps.

  • gev.jose

    I agree the stairs look dangerous and they will get EXTREMELY dusty. Poor cleaners. Looks great through.

  • Allan

    I think it has enough handrails for those who need them and enough freedom for the cats.

  • Sahir

    The designer seems obsessed with aesthetics over functionality!