Peak Ai

The light touch

Qube Pod Solutions from Boss 

A success story in the British tech industry, Peak was founded in 2015 and now employs roughly 250 people across five global offices in the UK, US  and India, including its Manchester HQ. It has a two-pronged mission – to democratise artificial intelligence for business, and to build an amazing company. Both these objectives informed the design brief when Peak relocated to a 35,000-square foot space in Manchester’s new tech, media and creative cluster, Enterprise City.

Peak appointed long-term partner Sheila Bird Studio to devise an office scheme that would make a minimum impact on the building and the environment, and would support the collaborative problem solving that gives the company its competitive edge. Working with a select group of partners, the architectural and design firm chose Qube pods by Boss Design to form meeting room clusters in the space – an important element within this innovative scheme. 

Peak is an AI business platform that optimises product pricing, inventory and customer personalisation. Driven by ideas, teamwork and problem solving, it operates in the fast-changing landscape of global business  technology. Communication and teamwork are vital and the symmetrical floorplan is centred around a hub with bleacher seating for company town halls, seminars and events. To each side are two kitchen areas in different colours, with a communal area for eating, coffee, conversation and meet-ups. 

One of the most interesting features of the scheme is an orange track, designed by Sheila Bird Studio, around the entire perimeter of the workspace. Running along the 360-degree glazing, it ventures out onto the two outdoor terraces and back inside. The track forms the ideal walk-with-me-talk-with-me opportunity for colleagues to duck away from their desks for quick collaborative chats in semi-privacy, or for taking calls.

“Part of our mission is building a great company culture and the office is a physical manifestation of that culture. We wanted our space to be open, to drive collaboration, to inspire curiosity, and I can safely say the end result does not disappoint.”

David Leitch, CIO and Co-founder, Peak

“Boss worked really hard, modified the Qube to meet our requirements, and delivered on time. Without their help, we couldn’t have done what we did, full marks.” 

Atul Bansal, Founder and Co-owner, Sheila Bird Studio

Agile and flexible

Sheila Bird devised the scheme for portability. Traditionally, moving into a workspace entails significant alterations – the construction of offices and adaptation of the lighting, air conditioning, heating, fire sprinklers and other services. 
Using Qube pods, Sheila Bird Studio was able to provide private meeting spaces while keeping physical building work to a minimum. Above the arbours’ plants and festoon lighting, the service pipes and LED strips remain unaltered along the concrete ceiling. Under foot, the carpet tiles are on magnetic pads ready to be removed and reused if Peak expands and moves.
With the desking away from the windows, the problem of glare on screens is eliminated and nobody has to sit in colder areas. This in turn reduces Peak’s energy requirements. Much of the furniture used is preloved from previous office spaces, again reducing the project’s carbon footprint.
Peak operates in a fast-changing ecosystem, and its teams need to form and reform, adapting to the business landscape. It’s the hundreds of plants in the space that accommodate and encourage this; each is on wheels and by moving the plants staff are able configure their own collaborative zones. The foliage brings the added benefit of improved air quality and having natural colours and shapes in the office nurtures a creative atmosphere.

Sustainable and efficient

Aesthetically and functionally, this is a light touch scheme that veers away from the traditional corporate layout, expresses the culture of the  business, and minimises impact on the planet. It’s a place that Peak is proud to bring its customers, and which supports both team collaboration and the individual deep thinking required by a tech business with a driven team of data scientists, sales people, engineers and more. 

Atul Bansal, who led the design thinking at Sheila Bird, estimates that the scheme’s light touch has saved Peak approximately 30 per cent versus a traditional office build. It will also enable Peak to avoid enormous dilapidation costs down the line. When the lease expires, theoretically the space could be handed back to the landlord without the cost of removing walls, flooring, wiring and fixed furnishings and with no bill for reinstatement. 

Sheila Bird, with partners like Boss Design and the other contributors to the project, has helped Peak create a flexible space that is sustainable and cost effective. Delivered on time and on budget, it reflects Peak’s work culture while respecting the environment, and is an example of what can be achieved when designers put an emphasis on sustainability, using well-made products designed and manufactured to support this objective.


November 23

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