Cape Town’s Design and Innovation District Gets Creative Injection

500 creative minds, 14 agencies, An Open Source Office Space for Publicis Groupe

Publicis Groupe’s fourteen Cape-based agencies have chosen the East City Precinct as their new home. The agencies and the nearly 500 creative souls that staff them are migrating under one roof with the aim of encouraging collaboration and open source thinking.

The new building is now home to the fourteen specialist agencies including Arc, Digitas Liquorice, MSL, Incentiv, Leo Burnett, Nurun, Performics, Prodigious, Publicis Machine, Narrative, Saatchi & Saatchi, Moon Walk, Starcom and Zenith.
the modern entrance to the harrington office building with blue lighting
“The move to The Harrington on Harrington Street comes after the reinvention of the group for the connected age by moving from a holding company to an open connecting platform,” says, John Dixon, Chief Executive Officer at Publicis Groupe Africa. “The move to position all Publicis Groupe agencies under one roof allows us to build on our group offering, which sees our specialist agencies collaborating and leveraging resources across the group for our clients.”

According to Dixon, there are fourteen individual cultures with zero silos, which gives the agencies and clients unlimited possibilities with this new collaborative open-source way of working.

“It is not a merging of our agencies but rather the coming together of agencies, people and skills to collaborate, share and inspire each other to think open and reach greater heights,” he explains. “The new move will better serve our clients through deeper collaboration, cross-agency sharing and insight, which benefits both our clients and people.”

Commenting on the choice of location, Miles Murphy, Chief Operations Officer at Publicis Groupe Africa says: “For many years, the East City Precinct has been regarded as a less desirable fringe of Cape Town’s CBD, but in recent months this has seen a massive shift with upgrades to offices, retail, restaurants and residential spaces. We are proud to be part of a movement which is breathing new life into this diverse area.”

a creative office in cape town with staff sitting at their desks working on macs, on the right is a black wall with "never afraid" written on it

By some reports, the East City Precinct has been hailed as a ‘design and innovation’ district and is quickly growing into Cape Town’s newest trendy social hub.

The new office at The Harrington was designed by Collaboration Concept Design Reality on an area totalling 4,110 square metres. To accomplish the transformation the task of the interior architects was to convey spatial equality and to design a space that allowed for collaboration, open source thinking and agile working spaces.

Murphy explains that it was critical that each of the agencies kept their independence from one another and maintained their different cultures. “This result is an open environment that is modular and organic with the aesthetic of the space carrying the theme of ‘Open Thinking.’”

The new office space includes: state-of-the-art photography, sound and editing suites, two coffee shops that employ hearing impaired barista partners, I Love Coffee, a canteen, auditorium and boardroom facilities which are out of this world (quite literally themed around space and planets).

Two secretaries are at their desks in an office entrance in Cape Town with a solar system image with the companies in the building
“The working areas of our employees have been made into an open space format,” he adds. “There are no offices but rather numerous informal ‘destinations’ or communal areas throughout the agency with comfortable sofas, pods and interesting, quirky lighting to encourage collaboration amongst our people and through these gathering places we drive movement in the agency.

“Importantly, each agency has its own distinct brand personality within the areas in which they operate, each agency will maintain its culture and secure space,” Murphy adds.

“We’re very positive about the opportunities our new migration brings, and as a communications company look forward to an environment that encourages collaborative ways of working.”

Founded in 1926, the Publicis Groupe is now the third largest communications group in the world with more than 330 offices in 110 countries.

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