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13th Nov 2017

Form meets function at the Byrnes Lab; a creative and progressive meeting of minds.

If you are familiar with the Barr Group you will know that we always embrace a project with a difference! The creation of the new Byrnes Lab (a StuartBarr CDR - BarrJoinery collaboration) had individuality of form and function written all over it.

Designed from top to toe as a close collaboration between Rachele Bowley, SB interior designer, and clients Ashley Byrne and Alison Ho, the key driver was Ashley and Alison’s desire to provide an optimal working environment for technicians and visitors alike. Ashley, entrepreneur and director of the cutting edge dental laboratory, is no ordinary employer. He holds a firm belief that conventional work spaces offer a sub optimal compromise and that they should instead be tailored to the particular working requirements of their inhabitants. In Ashley’s own words:

“It was never about expansion or growth. It was all about a better place for people to work and to be creative. ‘Project 11’ was our attempt to redefine how a dental laboratory looked, how we worked and how we manufactured teeth to the highest level possible. I wanted to improve communication, service levels and quality all through a new state of the art lab built in an old cattle barn. Sit down/stand up benches are not new in Scandinavia but they are new to most of the rest of the world. Working standing up improves posture, health, alertness and most importantly communication. So, when I actually saw this in action in Sweden, I had to use it in my own lab. Everyone has an electronic height adjustable desk, from the technicians to the administration team.”

“Our core values mean a huge amount to the team and I, so they are painted onto the main wall above dispatch and in the office which is soundproofed for any meetings. ‘Have fun and be curious’, ‘always act with integrity’, ‘build relationships’, ‘do more with less’ (our green policy) and ‘ innovate to drive change’ were simplified and clearly displayed around the lab. The new environment needed to support all of these.”

“I would like to personally thank the Barr Group team for the design and construction of the lab, as well as my team who dedicated many evenings and weekends to help me achieve my dream of what a dental lab should be - in 2017.”

To read more of Ashley’s story on the lab project click here

In order to get a fuller picture of the design, manufacture and build process we asked SB Interior Designer Rachele Bowley to tell us a bit more about the project…

Rachele, could you give us an overview of the client brief for the lab - from a functional, practical and aesthetic perspective?

“The client wanted a space that would push aesthetic boundaries for dental labs and wanted to create a place that his team would want to work in. Going against the default approach to clinical lab space, he wanted character! There were many restrictions in place due to the commercial aspect of the project. We started with a shell of an agricultural barn with the requirement to create individual rooms and areas for the different functions of the team. Each department had its own needs due to the differing specialist equipment being used for specific processes. The client was keen to provide an 'open doors' work space. So where possible, the office had to remain open plan. Along with this, we had to ensure that wheelchair access was in place. As a result, careful layout planning was a huge part of the design and development of the space.” 

What was your inspiration for the Lab look?

“Modern Industrial was the main focus for the design. I wanted to create a factory like space, where clients could really see the different stages of production. On our first visit to meet the client and their current work space, we were fascinated by all the teeth moulds and tools used. It was so interesting to see how the manufacturing processes worked. We wanted to capture this in the new space.” 

Tell us about the ‘teeth wall’?

I wanted to make a statement with the teeth moulds which would act as the impetus for discussion with dental clients regarding different teeth shapes etc. As such the teeth wall became a piece of art on one of the unused walls. 

Tell us a bit about the materials and colour palette for the final scheme.

Ashley and Alison had visited the Barr Group prior to commissioning the SB interior design team and felt an affinity with the unusual internal rough timber cladding used at Barr HQ.  They were keen for similar materials to be incorporated into the scheme.  A mix of old scaffold board timber cladding and stark black timber framed glazing created a clean take on the modern industrial look. The colour palette was inspired by the company branding: grey with a touch of orange. Therefore, we used small splashes of orange in places to highlight, such as the flex on the lights and the door reveal into the relaxing team room.   

What was the scope of work for the SB interior design team?

‚Äč“The client commissioned our Level 2 service, which involves producing a scheme and transforming the design from paper to reality. Sourcing, procurement, scheduling and installation were all part of the project. Communication with the client and the contractors was hugely important throughout the process. We used the services of both StuartBarr CDR and BarrJoinery, along with specialist sub-contractors. It was hugely important that everyone knew what everybody was doing and when. StuartBarr CDR contracts manager Jaime Osborne, along with site foreman Zak, were our regular contacts to ensure everything was going to plan.” 

What were the biggest challenges you faced, from initial design to completion of the work?

“Space planning to make sure we could get the space needed for the different departments and their equipment, whilst keeping a good flow to the building aesthetically was the biggest challenge. The client had specific needs for certain areas and it was very much a jigsaw puzzle trying to get what we needed out of the space we had. Ideally Ashley would have had a larger base floor plan for us to work with, however with a few revisions we formulated a plan that fitted everything in yet still gave a feeling of space.” 

“We were responsible for the interior space of the project. The outer build was managed by the owner and as a result we had to work effectively with other contractors. Accurate scheduling and good communications were vital throughout.

What part did BarrJoinery play in the design, manufacture and fit process?

“BarrJoinery created all of the doors and frames for the glazing, including the large lobby entrance. Josh (BarrJoinery director) and his team are fantastic to work with. They really understand how to make an idea work and turn it into a functioning reality. They built crittall-style screens using timber frames. This not only helped to absorb sound but also to manage the budget, due to the considerable cost difference between wood and metal internal glazing frames. 

What other features were individual to this project?

“We commissioned a local blacksmith to work on the metal statement piece, a large-scale outline of the ‘B’ from the Byrnes logo. It is great to work with specialist craftsmen on bespoke pieces. We are always looking for unusual statement pieces with which to add to the individuality of a project.”

The whole Barr Group project team grew through their involvement with the Byrnes Lab. Working with Ashley, Alison and the Byrnes lab family was a pure joy. We appreciated the core values the two companies already shared and discovered some new ones to take away!

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