Robert Allan Ltd.


Collaborating with Aura, Robert Allan Ltd., a marine engineering firm, transformed its workspace to embrace visual design to complement its technical profession.



Robert Allan Ltd.

Collaborating with Aura, Robert Allan Ltd., a marine engineering firm, transformed its workspace to embrace visual design to complement its technical profession.



Space Type





Interior Design, Project Management, Project Delivery


11,750 sf


Robert Allan Ltd., Canada’s premier consulting Naval Architectural firm with a rich history dating back to 1928, embarked on a transformative journey to create an inviting, collaborative, and innovative workspace. The goal was to merge the company’s deep-rooted history with cutting-edge technology, fostering a dynamic environment that encourages interaction and highlights the company’s evolution over the years. 

The Challenge

Robert Allan Ltd. recently secured a new space in the modern and bright PwC Place building in the heart of Downtown Vancouver. Moving from its previous office of three floors, the primary objective was to consolidate staff into a single-floor layout, emphasizing collaboration and connection among employees. The challenges posed by the previous office structure were evident in the limited areas for staff connections, preventing employees from engaging outside their individual workstations. Despite the presence of a lunchroom in their prior office, the team at Robert Allan encountered challenges as it was insufficiently designed to accommodate large groups of staff. The limited space, coupled with little access to natural light, compelled staff to eat lunch at their desks. Recognizing the importance of a well-designed communal space to foster team interactions and enhance the overall workplace experience, the new office design by Aura prioritizes the creation of spaces that encourage staff to come together, fostering a vibrant and enjoyable atmosphere that strengthens the foundation of the company’s unique culture. 


The Design Solution


The design concept revolves around the fusion of curves and angles, symbolizing the connection between the historical background and the innovative aspect of Robert Allan Ltd. Curves represent smooth progression and movement, while angles signify growth and extension. The dramatic angles in the gallery area create a feeling of extension and progression, while the smooth edges are reminders of uprising waves and movement. The design incorporates memorabilia, archive pieces, and scale models, with innovative solutions such as phone booths, virtual rooms, and tech-forward meeting rooms, creating an environment that inspires history and innovation. 


Key Features and Elements


Office Layout for Enhanced Interaction

In a strategic move, Robert Allan transformed its previous three-story workplace into a cohesive 11,750 sq/ft single-floor layout, fostering enhanced interaction and connectivity among its staff. This thoughtful redesign reflects the company’s commitment to a more dynamic and collaborative work environment. With the team consolidated on a single floor, the workspace encourages spontaneous interactions and facilitates a seamless flow of ideas. The revamped office features designated areas for focused work, collaboration, and virtual interactions, ensuring a versatile environment that caters to diverse work styles. Meeting rooms, a large conference room, breakout focus rooms, collaboration areas, and soundproof phone booths strategically enhance functionality, reinforcing Robert Allan’s vision for a more interconnected and efficient workplace.

Reception Area and Gallery

 Stepping off the fourth-floor elevators, staff and guests at Robert Allan’s new office are greeted by a warm, inviting space meticulously designed to reflect the company’s essence. Crafting a seamless transition for visitors, designers incorporated thoughtful cues into the new design, ensuring guests have a clear sense of direction right from the moment they step off the elevator. The glazed front doors are strategically positioned to capture natural sunlight, illuminating the elevator lobby and serving as a visual beacon, guiding visitors to the reception. Upon entering the reception area, guests are welcomed by a striking display featuring a gallery wall adorned with meticulously crafted scale models, complemented by comfortable seating arrangements. The space also pays homage to the company’s rich 90-year history through thoughtfully curated displays of archive scale models and company memorabilia. Overall, the new reception area seamlessly combines functionality with aesthetics, creating an inviting atmosphere that aligns with Robert Allan’s legacy and corporate identity.

Lunchroom/ Staff Lounge

Adjacent to the gallery and reception area, a spacious lunchroom was created, promoting a relaxed atmosphere for staff to connect and collaborate. The lunchroom features diverse seating options, allowing employees to choose spaces based on their mood or activity. This prime location within the office offers stunning views of downtown Vancouver, with large windows flooding the space with natural light. The newly designed lunchroom/staff lounge prioritizes ample space and the integration of natural light, creating an inviting environment for employees to enjoy their breaks. This approach not only fosters a healthier and more interconnected work culture but also enhances the overall workplace experience.


Preservation of Company History: Drawing Archive

 A dedicated storage area was crafted to ensure the safety of the company’s archive drawings, showcasing an impressive history approaching 100 years. In the previous setup, these drawings were stacked on open shelves, tucked away from view. Recognizing the historical importance of these documents, a key objective in redesigning the space was the creation of a dedicated storage facility. Departing from the previous arrangement, the client wanted the drawings to be more accessible than hidden away. To achieve this intentional integration, designers opted for a concealed door adorned with a vinyl graphic overlay, seamlessly blending the storage into the overall aesthetic as both a design feature and a secure, functional space.


The Result 


The Robert Allan Ltd. office transformation successfully brings the company’s rich history to life while embracing a modern, collaborative workspace. The project not only reflects the client’s vision but also displays the seamless integration of tradition and innovation, making it a testament to the company’s commitment to progress and excellence in naval architecture.


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