Government offices have a reputation for being drab, dull and devoid of fantasy. Located within the Al-Mamoura Tower in Abu Dhabi, this 167 square-metre office space designed by local interior design firm Roar bucks this convention — and then some. Helmed by designer Pallavi Dean, Roar studio has infused the Early Childhood Authority’s workspace with more than a hint of childhood wonder.
The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority is a public entity that supports early childhood development through policy and law. Their brief for Roar was simple — the new office space should straddle the professional and the playful, and remind the employees of “the child in their daily work.” Pallavi Dean, founder of Roar, remarks: “The key challenge was to design a space that captures attention with the playful nature of childhood, while at the same time being a mature office.”
Roar’s take on a child-focused office is elevated by the details, with the sense of whimsy achieved through deceptive rigour. Bursts of colour are carefully complemented by more understated tones, while scholastic motifs are subtly integrated into the millwork — a ruler forms a shelf panel and a row of pencils form a partition.
In the lobby, visitors are greeted by Big Blue, a life-sized fluffy “monster” sculpture who doubles as the office mascot. Soft, tactile textures adorn each corner of the office — from a custom-made felt map of the UAE in one room, to mounted oryx and gazelle heads made of plush in another.
The design studio consulted a colour psychologist for advice on the space’s tonal scheme: the work areas make use of energizing colours such as yellow and orange, while the break rooms focus on blues and greens. Repeating patterns in a palette of hues from soft yellow to pale blues and pinks provide coherence throughout the space.
Rocking chairs, bouncy balls and a butter-yellow swing hanging from the ceiling are just a few of the interactive elements that Dean integrated into the space — providing a welcome energetic outlet for children and adults alike. Paired with the elegant modular desks and task chairs populating the space, the unconventional pieces make for an unusually spirited office setting.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a kid-friendly space without room for the little ones. To accommodate ECA employees with young children, a “kid-zone” was created for children to play, while a maternity room offers privacy, comfort and reclining furniture for nursing mothers.
Furniture sourced from a variety of leading brands — including Sancal, Fatboy, Magis and Herman Miller, among others — completes the space. Ranging from terrazzo-inspired stools to funky armchairs, the eclectic seating options offer a range of choice, encouraging movement and interaction throughout the day. The furniture is functional and ergonomic, yet exciting enough to bring a whimsical touch to the space.
Finally, to enter the bathroom which sits at the centre of the space, two options are available: a regular, adult-sized door and a small door fit for children — a reminder that the space is shared by adults and children alike.
Roar Design creates a thoughtful yet playful work environment for Early Childhood Authority in the UAE capital.