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Architectural Design Project: Behind the Curtains – An Interview with Angie Sciberras

Architect Angie Sciberras highlights the main stages of her work

SiGMA met Angie Sciberras, who started her business in February 2015 as a freelance architect. With a passion for nature and design, Angie graduated from the University of Malta with Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering. While also collaborating with other professionals from across all necessary fields, Angie works on various freelance projects ranging from residential to commercial businesses.

SiGMA-igaming-Angie Scriberras

Angie Scriberras

With Malta being the Gaming Hub that is is, several of Angie’s projects revolve around designing efficient workspaces in the gaming industry. Taking the work and the company into consideration, each project adopts a life of its own. Keeping the client’s needs predominant, Angie explains that there are for main phases that she goes through when designing a project in an existing building, including a office in the iGaming industry

PHASE 1: SURVEYING THE PROPERTY AND DETERMINING A TIME FRAME

What is the first step when you are assigned to architectural design project?

One of the most important steps in my process when designing a project is to understand the current space. I like to visit the actual space and see what it lacks, what will work, if there’s room for natural lighting, etc. These will help me determine the building’s potential for the new project. All this and a basic brief from the client will guide me into determining an important aspect in the design process: the time frame. Through personal experience, clients are often unaware of the amount of work that is involved in their project. That is why I always try and suggest starting to engage the architect earlier on in the project.

When would you say is the appropriate time to involve an architect in the project?

I would say prior, or at the same time, that the company is looking for new office space, even if nothing has been finalised yet. For most companies, I would suggest contacting the architect, one to one and a half years, before the move needs to take place. This will also depend on how big the project is. For example, a small project of about 100-250sqm will require a minimum of around six months, from the design stage to the final execution stage, while a project of about 1,000sqm will require a minimum of twelve months for the execution to be handled professionally and state-of-the-art standard.

Apart from the reasons mentioned above, how will hiring an architect earlier on in the project benefit clients and companies?

Hiring an architect before the move begins will also help my clients financially since, with my expertise, I can guide them through expenses and cost estimates and any hidden costs that crop up at the end of the project. Through my background as an architect, I can also make sure that the chosen property follows the Planning Authority’s policies and regulations and that re safety and security measures are in place.

SiGMA-igaming-Sketch Angie Scriberra

A conceptual sketch of a section through a Kitchen space by Angie Scriberra

PHASE 2: DESIGN AND SPATIAL PLANNING

Do you consider every project different?

As soon as I’m involved in a project, I like to start o this second phase by conducting research. I consider meeting up with employees and management an important step, as well as visiting the current office so that I can put together a thorough brief of how the project will evolve. What makes every project different is that every strategy is customised around the company’s ethics, mode of work and their possible plans of growing in the future. No company is the same which means that no project will be the same. However, throughout the years I have picked up a few common traits that can be used throughout various projects.

What are these common traits?

For instance, even if you simply spend the traditional forty hours a week at the office, you are still devoting a big part of your life behind your desk at your workplace. Spatial planning is a determining factor to the person’s wellbeing. Social interaction is also key to a happy workplace so I take that into consideration when developing a design. If there is an overall common element in work environments, I would say it is the growing emphasis on employees. I like to design healthy places in which employees will feel at ease and happy to be in their environment.

In your experience, do companies tend to hold on to the traditional-looking office or are they becoming more experimental?

It highly depends on the type of company and their ethics. For instance, one of the projects that I am working on is designed to be a 6-star rated office and it is set over 1,600sqm of office space. Not only are we pushing the boundaries of the traditional-looking office but we are also ensuring that we keep the office’s high-standard, both in its design and in its services. We have managed to create a collaborative, informal and relaxed office space that is anything but traditional. Furthermore, we developed concepts of dark spaces vs. light spaces, open spaces vs. small spaces and quiet spaces vs. active spaces, all of which assist with how much the staff work effectively and collaboratively. I think that having this flow and division is crucial to a happy workplace as it gives the staff easy access to an assortment of spaces for the varying demands of their work. I wholeheartedly believe that a building can inspire a flexible and productive environment.

Do you see any current trends in the architectural industry at the moment?

Thankfully, the trend for indoor- outdoor offices is becoming extremely popular and the impact of plants on our wellbeing is being acknowledged. iGaming companies prefer to take a nature-inspired approach instead of spending long hours in stuffy offices. As this concept has been close to heart since my University days, I always like to say that green is the new black.

You’ve talked us through the initial stages of a design project. How do you transform the project from paper and bring it to life?

Bringing the concept to life is the fun part! It requires a lot of artistic work that make ideas and inspirations come together through sketches, 2D plans, 3D models, renders etc.

PHASE 3: DESIGN DETAILING AND CUSTOMISATION

So what happens once the design is finalised?

Before the final stage of execution, it is important to look at the design detailing and the customisation of the project. For example, I’ve recently been working on an office for an iGaming company that is spread on two floors of 250sqm each. The company wanted to tie in their updated brand into the architectural design concept. We integrated branding and architecture by translating a bold and con dent design for their office space that fits in with their cool brand. For this to happen, it needed a lot of time for customisation and detail design such as lighting, wood work, colour schemes, furniture choices etc. All these details, be them small or large, ensure that while the spatial planning of the office reflects their professional work ethic, the style and branding reflects their character; current, bold and con dent.

PHASE 4: PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND EXECUTION

Finally, how is the project executed?

As the Project Architect and Project Manager, I assist with managing daily a airs of the project and supervise all the contractors, manufactures and suppliers involved. I also meet the clients and guide them towards the setting of their deadlines. I am also responsible for preparing and producing the construction and detail documents while also being the middle-person between the client, the consultants and the contractors. All this is important so that the correct design details will be executed on site. I also aid with ensuring that the quotes received for the project are factual and priced fairly and I keep track of the financial budgets.

How do you feel seeing a project come together after you worked so hard on it?

It’s a satisfying feeling to see your work being executed and happening in real life. Above that, three of the companies offices I have designed so far have won their first award after their respective projects were finalised. That is one achievement that I am incredibly proud of. It’s also fulfilling when I get new jobs through referrals and through people visiting the offices that I have designed and liking what they see.
I also breathe a sigh of relief when I see that everything has worked out the way that it was supposed to. Seeing my clients happy with my work is above and beyond rewarding.

Designing the Ideal iGaming Office

Angie Sciberras is a professional design architect and spatial planner, known as Angie the architect. Apart from creating unique residential interiors, she has honed in on the design niche of iGaming offices.

Angie The Architect“I became aware of the way i-gaming has taken off successfully in Malta and how the sector requires well-designed offices that allow for a better-working environment, whilst keeping within budgets and taking in consideration of possible exponential growth over a very short time span.”

“Exceptional creative spaces attract the best employees in the industry. Optimal design allows space efficiency, maximising potential for excellent customer support and overall successful operations throughout the company. From experience I am strongly aware that having a good design allows the iGaming company to achieve a perfect balance between work and leisure. Ample unique spaces need to be created to satisfy the multi-characters and the multi-nationalities involved – spaces for collaborating and communicating, for chilling out, and for concentrating. It must all reflect the dynamic pulse of this industry.”

It has been a courageous move for Angie the Architect to categorically concentrate on iGaming clients. Upon going solo, after having worked with a few leading firms, she had only one month’s salary to back her up and not one single client to call her own. But in a matter of a few days, she was well into her first contract. Her personal know-how of the way iGaming companies operate has allowed her the confidence to work her way to a successful choice.

Angie The ArchitectIn order to get a feel of the company she plans to work with, Angie the Architect researches heavily about its history and growth curve. “I spend days observing operations, meeting managers and staff, asking questions. It is a time-consuming process but helps formulate a strong brief and a good concept. I don’t have a one-design-plan that fits all. Each project is unique to itself and linked to a clear understanding of the brand it represents. Linking brand and concept to the architecture is imperative in order to achieve space identity.”

Foreign investors in iGaming often require Angie’s assistance even before clinching a property deal. “At the property viewing stage, I’m asked to advise my clients regarding property potential and possible expansion. I know my way around the local scene, know all building regulations and work ethics, so I can project-manage from start through to finish. Once we have the right property in hand, my next hurdle is to work out a plan that makes for happy employees. Dynamic work ethics rely on this and my role is to create the right environment to make them and their company flourish.”

An interview with Angie the Architect by Marika Azzopardi

This article was published first on SiGMA Magazine. The magazine was launched at SiGMA show last November. For SiGMA17 sponsorship opportunities click here.

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