Civic Model


Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _Cather­ine Sweeney PHO­TO­GRAPHS _Trevor Mein

In the first year since Aus­tralia’s Queens­land govern­ment con­sol­i­dated a work­force of 5,000 from 23 dif­fer­ent sites into a tower at 1 Wil­liam Street in Bris­bane, the re­sponse from em­ployer and em­ploy­ees alike has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. Woods Bagot, the ar­chi­tec­ture firm be­hind the amal­ga­mated of­fices, took a holis­tic ap­proach to the de­sign, one that re­thinks pub­lic-sec­tor workspaces for a new gen­er­a­tion. The state govern­ment, which is the sole ten­ant of the 75,000-square-me­tre build­ing (save for re­tail spa­ces on the lower lev­els), had em­ployee morale in mind. “They wanted a space where peo­ple would feel a sense of pride in their work­place,” says ar­chi­tect Bron­wyn Mc­coll, who led the four-year project. “And we can see on so­cial me­dia that peo­ple are post­ing things like, ‘I can’t be­lieve I get to work here.’ That’s a proud mo­ment for me.” Within the 41-storey tower are mul­ti­ple three-level “vil­lages,” each with a sweep­ing stair­case link­ing it to a cen­tral atrium. Cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral flow and ease of move­ment through wide pas­sage­ways, the lay­out sparks im­promptu meet­ings be­tween em­ploy­ees. “When we did brief­ings, there were peo­ple who worked in the same de­part­ment but hadn’t even met,” says Mc­coll. “We wanted to shift the fo­cus to in­ci­den­tal move­ments, cross-pol­li­na­tion.” To that end, workspace op­tions run the gamut, from tra­di­tional desks and li­braries to hud­dle spa­ces, quiet rooms and, on the top floors, two open-air decks with views of the city. As an or­ga­ni­za­tional model, the vil­lage set-up – es­pe­cially when mixed, as it is here, with fresh air, plants and clear sight­lines – ap­pears to fos­ter con­tent­ment. In a re­cent em­ployee sur­vey, the of­fices gar­nered a more-than-80-per-cent ap­proval rat­ing. (In par­tic­u­lar, peo­ple have been tak­ing ad­van­tage of the 582 bi­cy­cle park­ing spots and – not un­re­lat­edly – the on-site show­ers.) Nat­u­ral pat­terns and mo­tifs am­plify that hap­pi­ness. Each level has a theme based on Queens­land’s flora and fauna, from co­ral species to wa­ter drag­ons. “The green-tree-frog floor, for ex­am­ple, in­cludes dark green pin­boards and glaz­ing as well as ab­stract cues from the an­i­mal it­self in the car­pet,” says Mc­coll. Be­ing a govern­ment build­ing, the project was un­der scru­tiny from the pub­lic and me­dia, es­pe­cially if things were per­ceived to be friv­o­lous or un­duly ex­pen­sive. With an eye on longevity, the firm sourced prod­ucts and ma­te­ri­als that are highly durable, crafted in Aus­tralia or by com­pa­nies with ex­cel­lent prac­tices (the work­sta­tions, for in­stance, were all made by lo­cal fur­ni­ture­maker Schi­avello). Qual­ity aside, the project has much to brag about, hav­ing earned the high­est rat­ing in Aus­tralia’s Green Star pro­gram for sus­tain­able build­ing prac­tices. woods­

TOP: A na­ture-in­spired pal­ette and or­ganic mo­tifs and ma­te­ri­als are in keep­ing with bio­philic prin­ci­ples.

ABOVE: Work zones in­clude café-style set-ups as well as pri­vate of­fices.

RIGHT: Cir­cu­lar floor plans and wide pas­sage­ways cre­ate a nat­u­ral flow around the cen­tral atri­ums.

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